Using the latest in electronics technology, engineers can develop new products that are more feature rich, and have greater capabilities to meet the needs for their products design and application. By incorporating state of the art components and adding decades of application knowledge to a new design, companies can provide for modern functionality the public has become accustomed to, such as the improvements in mobile communications. Applying these types of upgrades to existing technologies can provide for competitive advantages over other similar products in their market or category.
This is the case with the particle counter technology developed and being offered by Particles Plus. Their instruments contain multiple high-end controllers, graphics controllers, high-speed programmable logic and intelligent peripherals. This allows the instrument to process and log data at full speed while allowing users and remote users to access the instrument or data without compromising the performance of the instrument.
Particles Plus instruments can sample airborne particulates for applications with very high concentrations, while also processing and logging temperature, humidity, CO2, TVOC and monitoring all internal diagnostic sensors. At any time, even during sampling, a local user can scan through collected data on the local display, while a remote user accesses the instrument through a web browser or remote monitoring system interfaces to collect stored data. All of these functions, and more, can occur simultaneously without interruption or degradation of any function.
Some of our instruments also include advancements in battery technology that provide very long runtimes, exceeding 9 to 10 hours of continuous operation on a single charge, in an instrument with color touchscreen display. This is significant because displays use a lot of power. Instruments can also be configured to lower their power profile in various ways when the units are idle. This includes simple things like dimming the screen and putting various sub-systems into sleep mode when not in use.
Particles Plus Power Management also includes the option of putting the entire instrument to sleep when idle between samples, using micro-amps and providing for weeks of operation on one charge (based on tested configurations of 1 minute sample time, one sample taken per hour, continuously for 4 weeks).
When Sleep Mode is configured, the instrument will go to sleep if the delay/hold times between samples are longer than a user-specified period. While asleep, the instrument will consume very little power and will consume a normal amount of power only when the instrument wakes up to sample. This can be done repeatedly for very low overall power usage. Sleep Mode would typically be used when powered by the battery, with the unit placed in a long-term monitoring or audit situation. If the instrument sleeps half the time, the user could effectively double the battery life. If the instrument slept 90% of the time, the user could achieve up to 100 hours of battery life on a single charge.
In addition to high-capacity and power-management modes, Particles Plus batteries have on-board processing that manages the battery’s safety, fuel gauge and cell balancing. These features improve the capacity and longevity of the battery pack by several years. The stored information remains within the battery unit. If the battery was to be moved from instrument to instrument, the information is moved as well. This is the same advanced battery technology found in the most advanced electric cars, utilizing the same Lithium-Ion battery cells and control logic.
With advancements in processing and the lowered cost of onboard memory, greater onboard sample record storage can be greatly increased. The Particles Plus instruments can store up to 45,000 data records, each record encompassing comprehensive data for each specific sample. At a rate of 1 sample per minute, the instrument can record a full month’s worth of data before older records are overwritten. If sampling every 15 minutes, more than 15 months of data could be stored.
The user-interface makes scrolling through data fast and intuitive. The charting display helps provide easy visualization of issues or areas of interest within the data directly on the instrument.
Each data record includes data for all the channels, multiple instrument parameters and environmental sensor values, annotations, location and recipe data. The instruments allow up to 1,000 user defined locations and up to 50 different sampling recipes (i.e. number of samples, sample time, intervals and more). Locations are very useful in situations where the instrument is used to routinely perform the same sampling task. For example, if the instrument is used to validate various locations periodically then these locations and their particular sampling profiles (recipes) can be pre-entered. Then the user can simply select the location to be sampled and the instrument will already be set up for that sample. The data will be tagged automatically with the location and sampling information.
Locations can also be used as a generic term associated with a particular recipe. A particular sampling recipe can be used without having to create a unique location for what might be a one-time sampling event. In such a case, the annotation feature can be used to identify the particulars of that sampling event.
These are just a few of the many key features that allow for Particles Plus instruments to excel in performance and increased applications previously not achievable with optical particle counters.