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Adding serial peripherals to laptops

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MOST laptops and palmtops come with only one serial port and, at times, no serial ports. So the need for adding portable peripherals to laptops is even greater than desktops.

Quatech’s serial PCMCIA communications cards and serial USB adapters can be used for adding additional serial ports to any laptop or palmtop computer that has built in USB or PCMCIA slots.

These multi-port serial cards can be used to connect digital cameras, serial modems, mice, plotters, serial printers, GPS receivers, or a wide variety of data acquisition and signal conditioning equipment designed to run on a serial interface.

One example features a palmtop that was used to map radiation contamination that can occur after accidents or at waste disposal sites. This application demands complete accuracy and the ability to pinpoint contaminated areas.

Commercially available systems were typically large and costly units. The palmtop system solves the problem of both cost and portability.

The system comprises of a HP200LX palmtop (PDA) equipped with both a built-in serial port and PCMCIA slot. A GPS receiver is connected to the built-in RS-232 port, and Quatech’s DSP-100 dual serial port card provides two additional RS-232 ports via the PCMCIA slot.

Each of those ports is connected to a Geiger counter, which triggers an interrupt on the palmtop every time a radiation event is detected. Gamma radiation dose rate and location are collected for processing with a Geographical Information System (GSI).

The system is presently being used for mapping background terrestrial radiation, however it is sufficiently sensitive to accurately measure the environmental levels of radiation. Because of its small size, the system can be mounted on a backpack enabling walking surveys, or on a jeep to survey large areas. Interworld Electronics 0395635011.

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