List: standalone runtime graph maker/ lux loggers (for flashlight reviewers)

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ChibiM
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List: standalone runtime graph maker/ lux loggers (for flashlight reviewers)

I ALREADY FOUND ONE.. or 2 actually. But to keep this thread for other flashlight reviewers.

 

Android APP

You can also use the Android APP.. but for long runtime this is not desired. The file gets really big and computer can crash opening the file

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/53741

 

 

Cheap stand-alone Lux Meters

Cheap loggers for making runtime graphs for flashlight reviews:

Budget: up to $50

 

Brand/Model Sensor Batteries Connection  Software Max datapoints Max Lux Review / info Price
NKTECHNK W2 corded  4*AA  USB  PC   200,000  Aliexpress /   +- $40
Uni-T UT382 attached  9V  USB  PC 2044    Mfg  +- $40
Uni-T UT383S corded  3*AAA  USB PC   2000?  199,900 Mfg / Manual  +- $30
Benetech GM1020 attached  2*AAA  USB PC 1900  200,000 Mfg / review  +-$25
Benetech GM1030 corded  3*AAA  Bluetooth /USB? Android APP  2000 200,000  Aliexpress  +-$30

 

 

Stand-alone Lux Meters

Budget $100-500

 

 

Brand/Model Sensor Batteries Connection  Software Max datapoints Max Lux Sample rate Review / info Price
Reed SD-1128 corded  4*AA SD-card (max 16gb) + USB   unlimited (sd-card to 16GB ) 100,000 1-3600 sec Mfg  +- $175
Extech HD450 corded  9V USB Dedicated (then output to .csv) 16,000 400,000    Mfg / Manual / Datasheet  EOL
Extech SDL400 corded  6*AA SD-card XLS file (no software needed) unlimited (sd-card)  100,000   Mfg Manual /  Datasheet  +- $250
                   
                   

 

My experience: 

Extech HD450 

Looks interesting but with some flaws. Here are things that I noticed 

  • The timestamps were incorrect. They didn't correspond exactly with the clock. It was always some seconds behind with longer runtimes
  • Once the file is too large the software sometimes crashes
  • connection with USB cable doesn't go well sometimes, or on the computer side or on the lux meter side.. don't know
  • You have to download the latest software from the website. So even if you don't have the CD, you can still use it. 
  • You can only open the files with the software and then you need to save the runtime graph as a .csv
  • My copy had trouble with setting the date. Since I wanted every runtime start with 00:00:00 (now I found a better solution though)
  • You need to select the LUX setting yourself: up to 4000K 40000K or 400000K. This is really annoying since you have to calculate afterwards what the Lumen output was. Each setting needed a different calculation. 

 Extech SDL400

  • I replaced the HD450 with the SDL400 
  • I like it much better because it uses an SD card so you can record very large files and you don't need a useless long piece of USB cable.
  • Files are XLS so you don't need to convert and drop it into a spreadsheet
  • It uses 6AA batteries which I don't like so much... that's a lot of batteries. There is an option to use an external 9V power source.
  • It goes to 100,000 lux instead of the 400,000 of the HD450
  • Only 1 setting, from 1-100,000 lux. So you only need to calculate it once to convert to Lumens. Unlike the HD450 which you have to calculate based upon the LUX setting it was in.

 

 

My original requirements were: (this thread turned in to a list with all kinds of lux loggers, so just to keep this here to understand why this thread went the way it went)

  • must be standalone (shouldn't have to be connected to PC or anything)
  • data should be transferred to PC easily... no strange or unreadable data 
  • USB out for pc connection (preferrably)
  • able to set time intervals for recording (so the file doesnt end up with millions of data points when doing multi hour runtimes)
  • Exported file should be readible by non-dedicated software... think about a normal XLS file
  • Should use batteries... but DC power could be ok
  • batteries should last long enough for multiple runtimes. 
Edited by: ChibiM on 05/20/2020 - 11:52
Parametrek
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I’ve done some work with 2 of those meters over here.

You are going to be extremely disappointed with them. They are not good as standalone data loggers. When connected to a computer they are actually useful. Assuming you are using my scripts which are much more reliable than the junk that comes on the included CD-ROM.

They don’t need very much of a PC. A cheap raspberry pi or 20 year old desktop is more than enough.

For what you are talking about there is only 1 good option out there: an old android phone running the ceiling bounce app.

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ChibiM
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OLD OP: 

My requirements were: (this thread turned in to a list with all kinds of lux loggers)

  • must be standalone (shouldn't have to be connected to PC or anything)
  • data should be transferred to PC easily... no strange or unreadable data 
  • USB out for pc connection (preferrably)
  • able to set time intervals for recording (so the file doesnt end up with millions of data points when doing multi hour runtimes)
  • Exported file should be readible by non-dedicated software... think about a normal XLS file
  • Should use batteries... but DC power could be ok
  • batteries should last long enough for multiple runtimes. 

Hmm.

I'd like to keep it extremely simple Smile so they won't do it for me then Sad

 I wanted to use an old Smasung s3 mini, but it didn't work. No lightmeter. So I'll have to look for another one. Probably the best solution! In combo with the app!

 

Thanks

RobertB
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I bought a new ZTE smartphone from Tracfone for $9.95 for this exact purpose

ChibiM
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9.95? Are you kidding? Wow.

RobertB
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ChibiM wrote:

9.95? Are you kidding? Wow.

Yeah, they basically give them away in hopes you will use their service. I just checked, and there’s a newer upgraded ZTE for $14.95.

They aren’t bad phones if all you want to do is make phone calls, and txt message. In the US, all phones are required to be able to make emergency calls to 911 whether or not you subscribe to a cell service. So these cheap phones are good for emergency use as well

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Not sure how good those meters below $50 will work, but here's what I've been using (about $180).

 

I've been using a Reed Instruments SD-1128SD (Amazon link) for all my runtime graphs. You can view my runtime graphs by clicking on my J5 or SC700d reviews in my signature. It meets all your requirements (except price) - although it has an RS232 connector for hooking up to a computer and would require a USB/RS232 adapter (I've never used or needed that function). Runtime data is copied to an SD card that you simply pull out and plug into your computer for the basic Excel file. Uses six AA batteries, which I've found gives about 3-4 days of runtime on Eneloops, but I also use the optional wall adapter for long tests.

 

If you order one of those Aliexpress meters, I would like to know how well they work.

 

 

Extech sells a similar meter here:

https://www.amazon.com/Extech-SDL400-

 

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ChibiM
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Terry Oregon wrote:

Not sure how good those meters below $50 will work, but here's what I've been using (about $180).

 

I've been using a Reed Instruments SD-1128SD (Amazon link) for all my runtime graphs. You can view my runtime graphs by clicking on my J5 or SC700d reviews in my signature. It meets all your requirements (except price) - although it has an RS232 connector for hooking up to a computer and would require a USB/RS232 adapter (I've never used or needed that function). Runtime data is copied to an SD card that you simply pull out and plug into your computer for the basic Excel file. Uses six AA batteries, which I've found gives about 3-4 days of runtime on Eneloops, but I also use the optional wall adapter for long tests.

 

If you order one of those Aliexpress meters, I would like to know how well they work.

 

 

Extech sells a similar meter here:

https://www.amazon.com/Extech-SDL400-

 

 

This might be a good option, except for the price Wink But I might just get it... the smartphone is hopeless. 

Tonight another problem. After waiting 3 hours, I noticed the Ceilingbounce app already stopped after 2 hours Sad 
My phone probably just turned the app off or something, but this is annoying. I need to log longer runtimes as well. 

 

I will look at some EU sellers

bmengineer
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ChibiM wrote:
Tonight another problem. After waiting 3 hours, I noticed the Ceilingbounce app already stopped after 2 hours Sad

I have had the same issue with the Android app I use, but it’s just a quick trip over to the Doze settings (or your OEM equivalent) to make sure it doesn’t happen.
App info > Battery > Battery optimisation on stock Android Q.

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ChibiM
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Anybody any other option? Terry's option looks interesting, but something a little cheaper or at least available in the EU would be nice.

Finally I got myself a second hand Samsung J5... (from my sister) and it doesn't have a light sensor.. fail. 

ChibiM
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Finally got myself a second hand Extech HD450 for my runtime graphs. It's not perfect at all, but it will do the job..... I hope..

 

We'll see how cumbersome this is. It uses a USB Mini (not micro) to connect to a PC. You can either use it as a standalone meter, or connected the the PC. I tried it, connected to the PC, and it seems to be doing the job.... except for the data output.. it adds timestaps like: 2019-09-25 22:10:05. so need to figure out how to make that into clear data... starting from 0 minutes. Instead of the hours of the day. 

How about the UI/UX? ughhhh the buttons you have to push and the settings you have to set.. just don't make sense at all.... so completely useless. I prefered having a few extra buttons just to manage these things. A clear Start recording and Stop recording would have helped as well. Can't understand these companies make so horrible UIs. 

tempo
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M. one can also use smartphone as luxmeter logger. there are apps on playstore. they save the data in a common format (csv or similar) and one can postprocess it on the PC or laptop.

 

Converting a time stamp hh:mm:ss to a counter starting from 0sec is a common task , 

ChibiM
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Yes, I thought about a smartphone as well, but had no luck with 2. Both didn't have a light meter. Plus I wanted to be sure to have long batterylife.

tempo
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smartphones have brightness sensors. the light meter is an android app. there are plenty of them called 'light meter' or 'lux meter' on google playstore.

smartphone won't die if it's connected to USB charging (powerbank or wall charger).

I've tried it, works well, convenient "UI" and file management. but sure, a physical light meter is the more robust alternative.

ChibiM
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Sorry, I meant a light sensor. I also used the Light Meter app with my phone, but needed it to receive calls and messages. A second phone would be as expensive as a second hand /new lux data logger, but with extended battery life.

Terry Oregon
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Quote:
so need to figure out how to make that into clear data... starting from 0 minutes. Instead of the hours of the day

I could never figure that out either.  So . . . . .

In my Reed Instruments, I always zero the hours/minutes/seconds just before I start a runtime graph. I have to do this every time I do a runtime, but it only takes seconds once you figure it out. Excel then accepts this as starting at 12:00am.

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Unheard
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The Benetech GM1020 is ok if you master installing the driver (the device apparently uses a fake FTDI chip and needs an old driver) and upload the settings (doing this the first time is tricky). Beware: Windows 10 eliminates your driver in more recent versions, so it has to be reinstalled from time to time. And it’s getting harder each time.

Last time I did this I had to deinstall the Win driver and install the old driver before Windows could find the new, non-working one. Disconnecting from the net might work, too.

I can help if anyone wants to take this route. The GM1020 is the only budget meter able to store that many data points.

ChibiM
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Good call Terry, that is a great idea. This is one of the things they could have improved, but on the other hand, most people probably use it for something else, and not for runtime graphs Smile 

I could find a driver and software online for the Extech, so I think I'm okay.. not sure if something could cause troubles in the future of course. 

Thanks Unheard, thanks for sharing. If anybody goes that route, they know what to do. 

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I wonder if any of these companies would consider doing a group buy for a luxmeter that could log to USB.

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I like the idea !

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Note that the Reed Instruments does NOT have to be tethered to a computer.  It has a memory card slot - that I remove when done with runtime tests. It also has an optional external power supply that can keep the data logging going for days if necessary (see sample below).  I don't think the Extech has either.  I wonder how long the Extech can run on one 9V battery?  The Reed Instruments uses six AA's.

Just letting you know the pros and cons.

 

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ChibiM
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Although I already have 2 log meters, 1 being less than ideal and including some problems (Extech HD400) the SDL400 does a good job at what I want it to do. 

But for the sake of other reviewers, a little bump to see if there are any other alternatives.

This looks like an upgraded GM1020?

Benetech GM1030

https://aliexpress.com/item/33010626789.html

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I have the UT382… it can be either of these:

-Completely useless because the drivers are impossible to install on anything running windows 7 or newer.

-After installing the drivers on a W10 machine running a virtual instance of windows XP it works great and can easily export values to excel, you can set minimum/maximum value for start/stop, customize data logging interval and real time monitoring. When I was doing reviews I set up a macro to automatically export the values to my runtime graph on excel and after some quick value touch ups I would have a nice runtime graph in less than 5 minutes.

Downsides are it uses a proprietary port so the meter dies with the cable, and it won’t receive power from USB meaning it will drain your batteries QUICK unless you buy one of those Li-Ion to 9V adapter with usb charging from eBay.

Once past the initial setup it is a breeze to use and export the values to your runtime chart. I’d recommend buying one and try to get the drivers sorted out, worst case scenario you get a light meter with no data log function Smile I contacted UT asking them to update the drivers (they just need to sign them) but received no response.

ChibiM
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will34 wrote:
I have the UT382... it can be either of these: -Completely useless because the drivers are impossible to install on anything running windows 7 or newer. -After installing the drivers on a W10 machine running a virtual instance of windows XP it works great and can easily export values to excel, you can set minimum/maximum value for start/stop, customize data logging interval and real time monitoring. When I was doing reviews I set up a macro to automatically export the values to my runtime graph on excel and after some quick value touch ups I would have a nice runtime graph in less than 5 minutes. Downsides are it uses a proprietary port so the meter dies with the cable, and it won’t receive power from USB meaning it will drain your batteries QUICK unless you buy one of those Li-Ion to 9V adapter with usb charging from eBay. Once past the initial setup it is a breeze to use and export the values to your runtime chart. I’d recommend buying one and try to get the drivers sorted out, worst case scenario you get a light meter with no data log function Smile I contacted UT asking them to update the drivers (they just need to sign them) but received no response.

Thanks Will! Added a link to your post in the OP

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Will the 1030 connect to a PC for uploading data?

ChibiM
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Unheard wrote:
Will the 1030 connect to a PC for uploading data?

No, bluetooth to your phone. 

Unheard
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Thanks, so I’ll stick to the 1020.

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I'm currently spending some of my spare time on a personal project I've had my sights set on for a while - a standalone runtime test setup based off of the Adafruit TSL2591 light sensor and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

Making it standalone is a bit of a learning experience for someone like myself with little coding skills, but if you want to use it connected to a PC it would be very easy. The sensor and RPi0 together are less than $20, and the rest of the pieces needed to get up and running you probably have in a junk drawer somewhere (microUSB cable, microSD card, some wire).

Edit: If I were going to use this tethered to a PC, I would probably replace the RPi0 with an Arduino Micro or similar.

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Arduino is interesting. I did a lot with the Leonardo with its native USB port. You can make it a keyboard to transfer data. And I think there’s a SD shield available. Add LCD and sensor and be done with the hardware.

ChibiM
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bmengineer wrote:

I'm currently spending some of my spare time on a personal project I've had my sights set on for a while - a standalone runtime test setup based off of the Adafruit TSL2591 light sensor and a Raspberry Pi Zero.

Making it standalone is a bit of a learning experience for someone like myself with little coding skills, but if you want to use it connected to a PC it would be very easy. The sensor and RPi0 together are less than $20, and the rest of the pieces needed to get up and running you probably have in a junk drawer somewhere (microUSB cable, microSD card, some wire).

Edit: If I were going to use this tethered to a PC, I would probably replace the RPi0 with an Arduino Micro or similar.

If you build one and if you make a thread about it, please let me know so I can add that here

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I’ll be sure to make a post and link to here if it ever gets to a complete state Smile

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