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Review - Kenometer USB (56k warning, Pics ahead.)

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Woohoo! I am now the proud owner of a Kenometer USB. Here's a quick little write-up on it.

I ordered and payed on April 18th, and my LPM was delivered May 21st, about a month later. I don't find this unacceptable, given the semi-custom, non-mass produced nature of the product, and the need to fill back orders. Ken was a hell of a nice guy to deal with. He answered all of questions and concerns promptly. I couldn't have asked for better customer service.

My meter was well-packed. It arrived sandwiched between a couple layers of foam padding. The meter itself was packed in an ESD protective baggie.

The meter itself is enclosed in a small project box, 3"x2"x1". The mini USB cable plugs into one end, and the other end has a port for the cable to the thermopile. The top of the meter has a small hole, to permit viewing of the status LED. The thermopile is a small 1.5" cube. All neccessary cables were included, of course.

Some pics;







As you can see, the meter is not without some minor cosmetic flaws. The hole for the thermopile cable is slightly off-round, and there are a few minor scratches. Frankly, this doesn't bother me at all. The meter works, and even a flawless project box isn't going to look too snappy. No worries.

The thermopile looks brand new. It has a very nice brushed anodized aluminum finish, and a satisfying heft.

A while back, we had some drama here on LPF when Ken sent out a prototype Pro meter as a stand-in, until the intended meter was completed. This raised some serious concerns over the quality of his builds. In order to dispell this, I obtained Ken's somewhat hesitant permission to open up my meter without voiding the warranty. Here's a couple of pics of her guts, as well as the included cable;



(might need two of those stickers to keep idle hands in check, Ken:whistle:)

As you can see, everything is properly heat-shrinked and isolated, and the soldering is well-done. I have no complaints. I think I have MarioMaster to thank for this. Nice, clean work. (I resisted the temptation to push the button in the middle,)

Now, in regards to the included software, Luminosity. In general, it is a nice little piece of software. All of the controls are fairly intuitive, and it does it's job admirably. The graphing function works well. There's no lag or time lapse in response; as soon as light hits the thermopile, you have your reading. Here's a screen shot of the software at work (this was also posted in my review of my Rayfoss greenie,)


It's reasonably pretty, and fully functional. I've noticed a few small glitches, though. Once, when I tried to connect my meter, I think the software was communicating with my external drive. A second attempt provided better results. Once, the program froze and needed to be shutdown in the task manager. Other than these small issues, the software is golden.

Overall, I'm not mad at this purchase at all. Very pleased


As with all things, there's room for improvement. In future incarations of the Kenometer, I wouldn't mind seeing an option for a nicer enclosure. Something with a little weight behind it, maybe. Brushed anodized aluminum to match the thermopile would be awesome, but expensive. Hell, I'd pay extra for it. The nice thing about a small(er) operation like this is that customization isn't too big a deal, since each piece is getting individual attention anyway.

As for the software, I could think of a few possible improvements. I'd like to see an option for multiple plots on a graph, for comparison purposes, as well as a minmize to tray option. A desktop gadget for Vista and 7 would be really cool. (I don't know if any of that is likely or even possible. What I know about programing could be inscribed on a diode pin with a dull sword. Big props to twhite828 for the software.)

Overall, I'm very pleased with both the meter and my interaction with Ken. Good product, good people:thanks:

Questions and comments welcome, of course.
 

jaycey

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Thanks for the review,

How long is the lead between the box & head?

Cheers
 

Kenom

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This one was put together by me. Mario would have put a led light guide from the led to the hole with hot glue, but since my hot glue is black, it would have defeated the purpose had I done so.

The cable from box to sensor is 3' I figured that was more than enough for any user to keep the meter attached to a pc and still have plenty of room to move the sensor about.

You might want to mention that this one did come with a CD with all the necessary software and instructions on it. I hope they were easy to read and fairly intuitive. As to the software recommendations for luminosity, I recommend you post the graph overlay idea in his thread in the tutorials section.. it is indeed a great idea.
The software 99% of the time takes two tries to connect to the meter. This was something we accepted as acceptable considering the software has a handshake built in to only recognize the Kenometer. We couldn't get it to connect and now it will connect every single time on the second time.

If you would like your meter put in an aluminum enclosure that is suitable, I'd be more than happy to do so. Here are some boxes that might be suitable: http://www.hammondmfg.com/scpg.htm I have the means of anodizing anything aluminum.

I've searched high and low for a punch to punch out the mini-USB Port and have had no success so I have to cut them out with a very very small bit and it's extremely difficult.
 
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Trevor

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Now, in regards to the included software, Luminosity. In general, it is a nice little piece of software. (Thanks!) All of the controls are fairly intuitive, and it does it's job admirably. The graphing function works well. There's no lag or time lapse in response; as soon as light hits the thermopile, you have your reading. Here's a screen shot of the software at work (this was also posted in my review of my Rayfoss greenie,)
(Good to hear.)

It's reasonably pretty (I'm a programmer, not a designer, but I appreciated the vote of confidence. :) ), and fully functional. I've noticed a few small glitches, though. Once, when I tried to connect my meter, I think the software was communicating with my external drive (You've just got to make sure you pick the right COM port; were there two COM options when you did this or just the one?). A second attempt provided better results. Once, the program froze and needed to be shutdown in the task manager. (What were you doing when this occurred?) Other than these small issues, the software is golden. (Thanks!)

As for the software, I could think of a few possible improvements. I'd like to see an option for multiple plots on a graph (I'll add it to the to-do list.), for comparison purposes, as well as a minmize to tray option (That too.). A desktop gadget for Vista and 7 would be really cool. (I can at least look into it.)(I don't know if any of that is likely or even possible. What I know about programing could be inscribed on a diode pin with a dull sword. Big props to twhite828 for the software.)(Thanks again!)
Everything I have to say is in the quote. :)

-Trevor
 

lasersbee

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Hey P2D...

Nice fair review of your new LPM...:gj:
I like the Software as well... I'm sure the small quirks can be
easily ironed out...:cool:

Jerry
 
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That one looks pretty darn good there heat shrink and everthing :yh:
I can't wait to get mine up and running.
 

Kenom

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I tried to tell folks that the one big mistake was not indicative of my usual build quality.. I really did try to make up for that one mistake but wasn't given a chance. I'm done assembling meters now Flaminpyro and would be more than happy to finish assembling yours as well.. I've even started using standoffs for the lcd.. I do learn. :D

I mean hell, every single original Kenometer out there was put together with floating components, lots of hot glue and wires all over the place... Ugly yes.. Functional.. Hell yes. I've only had to repair one (scopeguys) and to my knowledge, every single one is still functioning. I never once indicated I do "professional" assembly. These are hobby meters on a budget... as such a few corners are cut. No prefabbed boards... I'm now etching my own boards which is a huge improvement over the floating components... it's all a learning process. They get better as they go.
 
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If you would like your meter put in an aluminum enclosure that is suitable, I'd be more than happy to do so. Here are some boxes that might be suitable: Hammond Mfg. - Small Enclosure Index I have the means of anodizing anything aluminum.
I might take you up on that some day. I'm content with it for now, to the point that I'd hate to part with it, even for a really boss upgrade. Yep, I like it that much.

I've searched high and low for a punch to punch out the mini-USB Port and have had no success so I have to cut them out with a very very small bit and it's extremely difficult.
If I were you, I'd probably make a template or stencil out of some hardenable high-carbon steel. It would be a chore to get it done, but once you did, you could just clamp it to the front of the box and run a Dremel around inside it. It would be quick, easy, and repeatable. Use a lower speed, of course. You don't want to melt it.

Another option would be to have someone make a punch. I'm thinking of a modified set of lineman's pliers, with a mini USB shaped sharpened bit, and maybe a hard rubber, plastic or leather anvil to keep it sharp. It might split the plastic, though. No way of knowing until you try it. There's probably a dozen guys here that could construct something like this for you. Believe me, the hobbiest will find a way!

EDIT, in response to
twhite828 said:
(You've just got to make sure you pick the right COM port; were there two COM options when you did this or just the one?)
I have six to choose from. I've been using COM 7.
 
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Odic

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Just a quick note to say I have just got my USB Kenometer and the finish is professional, neat cutouts and a box which looks like new with a smart blue led indicator.

I am running this on a Apple Mac Mini with VM Fusion/ Windows XP and the software runs fine in parallel with my normal Mac desktop. The Arduino interface shows up as COM 3 on my setup - This is handy for me because I can cut the Luninosity screenshots straight into my Mac programs. So if there are any Mac users wondering if it will work OK the answers is yes, no glitches so far.

Thanks Ken/Trevor/Mario for a great product at a very fair price.
 




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