The Pasco Computer Interface and the Science Workshop Software

The operation of the Pasco interface and Science Workshop program are very straightforward. We will use these to take data in a few of the lab experiments during the semester. One can use the Pasco interface with a large number of devices, including those you have already used in Physics 120/130.

Plugging in Sensors
The general use will require plugging a sensor into either the digital or analog inputs on the front of the interface box, and then choosing the appropriate plug and device with the software. The software is setup so that you can click and drag an icon that looks like the actual object you are using. If you want to know the properties or change the properties of the piece of equipment, you can often just double-click on it with the mouse.

Choosing What to Record
Once you have the hardware settings correctly set up with the Science Workshop program, you need to tell it what kind of data you want to take. Usually this will consist of a table of data or a graph. Again, all you need to do is to click and drag either the table or graph icon and drop it onto the appropriate sensor. The program will then ask you which variable you want to display, and you choose that which is appropriate to the experiment.

Taking Data
Once you are ready to take data, you can click the monitor (mon) or record (rec) buttons. The monitor function will monitor the inputs to your particular sensor without recording, while the record function will save the data in a data file which you can name and save to disk later on. Remember to click the stop button when you are finished taking data.

Moving Data to an Excel Spreadsheet
Once you take data in a table, you are going to want to copy it to the Excel spreadsheet in order to do some analysis. You can do this in one of two ways: you can save the data file first in Science Workshop by clicking on the data table (to make it active) and then choosing File - Export Active Display from the menu bar. Save it with an appropriate name (it will be saved as a text - .txt - file) and then open up Excel. In Excel you can choose File-Open from the menu bar, change the file type to text, find the appropriate directory and file, and follow the prompts. The second way of importing the data is quicker, but you don't save the data file first: This is done by highlighting the data you want to copy by holding down the left button of the mouse and dragging the mouse over the data. You then go to the Science Workshop menu bar and click edit and then copy on the drop-down menu. You can then open up your excel spreadsheet, position the cursor where you want to place the data and from the Excel menu bar click edit and paste.

Hints
If you want to unplug sensors (within the software) or delete data files (which you must do to unplug sensors), highlight the appropriate data file or sensor by single clicking with the mouse, and hit the delete key.