My colleague, Martin Rowe, who is Senior Technical Editor for test & measurement at EE Times and EDN, posted an interesting article that describes how to turn your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc.) into a digital multimeter.
Martin's article (Click Here to see the original) presents something called the iDVM fom Redfish Instruments. Why is it called a DVM (which stands for “Digital Voltmeter”) when it can be used to measure voltage, current, and resistance? Who knows? Maybe iDVM sounds better than iDM… of maybe there’s some other highly technical reason that I’m not clever enough to understand…
So here’s the deal. There are two parts to this. First of all we have a free software app that you can download from the iTunes Store. This presents you with a graphical depiction of a multimeter that looks just like the real thing – to change the settings you just touch the buttons and/or rotary switch in the appropriate place. You can also play with the app in advance of getting the associated hardware.
Speaking of the hardware, this is a small package with associated probes. The hardware communicates with your iOS device wirelessly with a range of about 30 meters (100 feet).
The downside for me is the price, which is usually $295, but which is currently $195 through 25 December 2011. On the one hand this is a LOT of money, especially when you consider that you can get a perfectly serviceable digital multimeter for anywhere from $15 to $30 (or less, or more) from Amazon.com
So, why would anyone be interested in this combination of hardware and a virtual instrument from Redfish? Well, there are two reasons that spring to mind. The first is that it might occasionally be useful to have the ability to perform remote measurements. For example, you could have the hardware module connected to some “gizmo” in another room, and you could monitor what was happening using your iPad (or whatever) in your office, or while walking around (or whatever).
In fact, it may simply be that the measurements you want to take are in a hard-to-access spot that means you ideally want to position your probes and then make like a sheep (“and get the flock out of here” [grin]).
The second reason big reason why the iDVM may be of interest to some users is its data-logging capabilities, which allow you to capture, store, and share data. And there’s also the fact that, using the integrated speech function in your iOS device, the iDVM can "speak" its measurements through the integrated speaker or earphones.
I think the bottom line here is that the iDVM will be “too much” (in terms of features and capabilities and cost) for a lot of folks … but that it will be “just right” and “well worth the cost” for those folks who can benefit from its remote monitoring and data-logging capabilities.
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