Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Alix Digital Controller is shipping!

We're very happy to report that, after over a year of intense R&D, our new Alix controller is shipping.

It's designed for advanced teaching and research with our Emriver models.

Using an open-source Arduino hardware-software interface, the Alix controller allows precise control of water flow.   It also meters and displays flow rate, shows accumulated run time and flow, and automatically runs hydrographs.

The controller uses the model’s pump as a flow sensor; a neat idea we developed way back. See our support page for more. 

The controller is back-compatible with all our Em2 models.   It’s an extra on our new Em2 and Em3 models, and costs US$650.

The hardware and software are open source, and we hope to see users hack away.   Its USB port allows easy connection to other computers.

Students could, for example, do real-time plotting of hydrographs as they run, coupled with time-lapse photography of channel changes in the model.

Development of this instrument turned out to be much more time-consuming and expensive than we planned.

It’s not that hard to make something that works, but to make it mass-producible, durable and super-reliable without making cost too high is not easy.

We named the controller after Chris Alix, a genius developer, good guy, colleague, and friend who designed the controller’s circuit board and wrote the software.


Charlie Hohn said...

I definitely get lost on the physics of hydrology (one of the reasons I do botany/ecology instead) but wow, that gadget sure looks neat. It's nice that it doesn't look like it's going to fall to pieces like most specialty science stuff does.

Too bad as a poor job-seeking naturalist I can't buy a stream table... I have to resort to playing in the sand. I got some neat backcutting though:

I think the very top layer of sand was lightly frozen.

MK said...

I finally got around to seeing the video - very cool! Now I just need to find a few hundre $$ lying around.