Want to get a Pocket Science Lab or already have one and have some questions?
Great, you came to the right place! Read through the FAQs here
Frequently Asked Questions
Pocket Science Lab (PSLab) is a small USB powered hardware board that can be used for measurements and experiments. It works as an extension for Android phones or PCs. PSLab comes with a built-in Oscilloscope, Multimeter, Wave Generator, Logic Analyzer, Power Source, and many more instruments. It can also be used as a robotics control app. And, we are constantly adding more digital instruments. PSLab is many devices in one. Simply connect two wires to the relevant pins (description is on the back of the PSLab board) and start measuring. You can use our Open Source Android or desktop app to view and collect the data. You can also plug in hundreds of compatible I²C standard sensors to the PSLab pin slots. It works without the need for programming. So, what experiments you do is just limited to your imagination!
There is an overview page for shops where you can buy a Pocket Science Lab device in different regions on the website at https://pslab.io/shop/.
We are developing a desktop app for Windows, Linux and Mac in our desktop Git repository. You can find it in the install branch of the project here. The app is still under development. We are using technologies like Electron and Python, that work on all platforms. However, to make the final installer work everywhere requires some tweaks and improvements here and there. So, please expect some glitches. You can use the tracker in the repository to submit issues, bugs and feature requests.
Unfortunately Apple has tight restrictions and controls users in a way that prevents them to connect other hardware to their own Apple devices. Many people argue that this is against the freedom of users. The majority of hardware producers are not able to provide options to connect their products with Apple devices. Apple in many cases simply does not permit non-Apple products to be connected with its phones, pads and other hardware. It is only sometimes possible after a long and expensive process, but even if we would try to go through such a process it is not sure, that it would be possible to get Apple’s cooperation to connect a Pocket Science Lab. Due to Apple’s restrictive policies and proprietary approach that restricts the freedom of users of Apple products we are not currently able to provide an iOS app. The community regularly discusses new approaches, but unfortunately we have not found a solution yet. Apple does not have an interest to support users due to its main objective of profit generation instead of allowing users to use their devices in a way that they want. Apple’s behavior is seen by some in a way that it restricts basic human rights and the freedom of people who happen to be users of Apple products.
To connect to the device you need an OTG USB cable (OTG = On the go) which is a USB cable that allows connected devices to switch back and forth between the roles of host and device. USB cables that are not OTG compatible will NOT work. It is also possible to extend the PSLab with an ESP WiFi chip or a Bluetooth chip and communicate through these gateways using the Android app. You can refer to the hardware developer documentation and code on GitHub for more details here.
We have issue trackers in all our projects. They are currently hosted on GitHub. In order to submit a bug or feature request you need to login to the service. A list of our PSLab repositories is here (scroll down a bit, when you access this page).
Yes, we have implemented a record and play function or a way to save and open configurations in the instruments on the Android and desktop app. Data you record can be imported into the apps and viewed. This feature is still under heavy development, but works well in most places. You can find it in the top bar of the apps. There are buttons to record, play, save and open data.
In our apps we use the industry standard I²C (Wikipedia). You can get the data from sensors that are connected to the device through the USB port using an OTG USB cable (OTG = On the go) which is a USB cable that allows connected devices to switch back and forth between the roles of host and device. For the transfer we use UART (universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter, Wikipedia). Many sensors can be used with specific instruments, e.g. Barometer, Thermometer, Gyroscope etc. You can access the configuration for sensors in the instrument settings on the top right burger menu of each instrument. All sensors using the I²C standard are compatible with the device. There are connection pins for analogue and digital sensors. You find the description of the pins on the back of the device. Even if there is no specific instrument in one of our apps yet, you can still view and store the raw data using the Oscilloscope instrument component. There is a page with a list of recommended sensors on the website.
We have already implemented this functionality, however it is still in prototype stage. You can generate a config file in the Android app and transfer it to the PSLab device (you might have to update the firmware that you find on our Github org). You can power the PSLab device with an USB battery and it can collect data independently of the app. Once you connect the app you can download the data collected. Future versions of the device will come with a SD card to store the data locally as well. At the moment there are still limits to using this feature, but we are continuously working on it 🙂
PSLab is developed with a community at FOSSASIA. There are over 100 developers who have contributed to the project across different repositories. The project was started after Praveen Kumar, a physics teacher from India, introduced the idea of an open physics lab device inspired by the ExpEYES project at the FOSSASIA Summit in Cambodia 2014. He helped to get the project moving forward and worked with early contributors on the software components. The Open Hardware board was released in 2017 as part of a GSoC project by Jithin B P who used the ExpEYES boards he developed earlier as a basis to create the first version of PSLab. In the following years hardware components were updated, the size and design was adjusted resulting in much lower production costs and many features were added in the firmware. An Android app was developed from scratch and most of the desktop app re-implemented with a new cross-platform Electron frontend. Padmal M from Sri Lanka is leading the tech team since 2018 and defines the roadmap together with Mario Behling, core developers and contributors from the wider community. Since 2019 FOSSASIA produces batches of the boards in large quantities. It is our goal to set an example as an Open Hardware project, to make it commercially sustainable and inspire others to create Open Hardware and Free and Open Source software.
We use issue trackers for most of our work. You can submit issues you find regarding the website on our issue tracker here.