MultispeQ v1.0 cometh!

Hey everyone, I know it’s been radio silence from the PhotosynQ team for a while. We’ve been working our tails off learning lessons from the beta test, designing the v1.0 MultispeQ, and beta testing the CoralspeQ device. But it’s time to reconnect…

New MultispeQ v1.0 pre-orders will start sometime in 2015 ( !!!! ), and I wanted to show you what we’ve been up to. Our goal is to hit an April 1 deadline for shipping devices, so that you can be ready to collect data in the Northern Hemisphere’s growing season. If you missed out on the MultispeQ beta test which occurred this summer (which I know a lot of people did) don’t worry, a new and much improved MultispeQ is coming.

Let’s dive in to pics and specs, but please note — these are preliminary and this is all a work in progress, so things may change slightly as we get to manufacturing. We’ve got Hardware / Design updates this time, but we’ll be following in a few days with updates about new applications and some interesting scientific outcomes from MultispeQ projects, and the some information about CoralspeQ, a device to measure coral bleaching (still in beta testing phase, not part of the April 1 release).

Enjoy!

v1.0 Hardware / Design

Redesigned exterior for MultispeQ v1.0 from Barry Hutzel at Bazza Designs.
Recent evolution of the MultispeQ. The current beta device is on the far side of the desk, while the new design provided by Barry is on the near side. The other components were 3D printed or milled ABS used to test hand fit, as well as mechanical action of the clamp.

MultispeQ v1.0 early mechanical design. The initial case design needs to define all of the hard requirements relating to the clamp mechanism, location of components (PAR sensor, batteries, circuit boards, etc.). Once this is complete, then Barry can build a beautiful exterior around it. You can see that the new design can measure very thick items like cuvette’s by default (no need to take apart the unit to measure algae!). This is just one of many improved features.

We learned a lot from this summer’s beta test, both by using the device ourselves and from the feedback of our many amazing beta testers. Here’s a partial list of improvements in v1.0 for the April 1st launch.

CASE

  • 3x bigger internal battery – Recharges via USB just like your phone, no more replacing AAA batteries!
  • Improved PAR sensor – Achieves an r-squared linear fit of .98 with same light conditions using a LiCOR PAR sensor. Light conditions tested were highly varied (full sun, in canopy, LED, fluorescent)
  • Thinner design – easier to measure very small leaves (like arabidopsis) and get into tight spaces
  • Form fits hand, right or left handed
  • Measure cuvette or leaf without modification – changed the clamp mechanism so you can measure anything from .1mm to 13mm thick – no need to unscrew or add anything (or mess up the calibration) to measure leaves or cuvettes!
  • White case heats up less, more accurate ambient temperature and relative humidity – Your hand and the black case make the current temp and rh kind of useless… in the new version, these measurements should be significantly more accurate.

SENSORS

  • Contactless leaf temperature – using IR sensor, accuracy of .1 degrees C
  • Leaf thickness sensor – no guarantee but we’re trying to include this. Measures leaf thickness to an accuracy of 10 microns
  • Leaf angle and cardinal direction – gives you leaf wilt angle, and what direction the leaf is facing
  • Reduced noise by 5 – 10x – we’re still verifying, but based on some improvements in the circuit we’re expect to see a big jump here. We’re hoping this will allow you to measure proton motive force (ECS) quickly and effectively in the field, and improve fluorescence measurements with weak signals (like dilute algae).
  • 10 LEDs instead of 8 – more options for spectroscopic measurements
  • External sensor connector – we’ll have a connector so you can plug in any sort of sensor with analog or digital outputs to read using the MultispeQ (soil moisture sensors, pH probes, etc.). Connector includes power, ground, and 16 bit analog pins. This is a developer option right now – so you’ll have to do some hacking to make it work but we really hope you do!

USABILITY

  • Automatic firmware updates – firmware will update automatically over USB or bluetooth from the PhotosynQ apps – no more following complicated directions, and it means you’re always up to date!
  • Bluetooth 4.0 – fewer dropped measurements, simpler to connect

SOFTWARE

  • Fixed annoying bugs! – we (and our lovely, patient, hard working beta testers) identified lots of bugs with the Android and Chrome apps, especially dropped connections and aggravating user experiences – these are being fixed. Beta testers know what I’m talking about here :
  • Clearer selection of measurements – we know that not everyone is a photosynthesis researcher – v1.0 will be much clearer about what the measurements do (or do not do), and try to provide reference projects which can help you identify what measurements are most useful for your project.
  • More flexible project creation – now change anything (questions, protocols, their order, whatever) in a project whenever you want without losing data.
  • Shorter loading times when viewing your data on the website
  • iPhone app – it’s on our to do list, but can’t guarantee we’ll have it done by April – but we’re sure going to try.

That’s it for this time – next time we’ll walk through some of the advances we and the community have made on the science and applied end of things – some exciting stuff going on there too.

Oh – and I want to congratulate Veronica Greeve – she just broke the 10,000 measurement mark. Congratulations Veronica… you’ve contributed about 5% of all data to the platform… pretty amazing!!!

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