Suggestions for a trade show demo..

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by crotchfruit, Mar 6, 2004.

  1. crotchfruit

    crotchfruit Guest

    I work for a company that makes PC/104 data acquisition boards. We have a booth at the upcoming ESC in SF at the end of march, and we need to set up a demo for one of our products. We've come up with a few ideas, but management keeps shooting them down because they're not "gimicky" or "memorable".. so I call on OT for suggestions :eek3:

    Here's the rundown: We sell embedded CPU boards w/ onboard data acquisition (DAQ), as well as an assortment of other DAQ boards. We developed a software library based on SOAP that allows you to interact w/ the DAQ portion of the boards remotely, with a consistent API for all products. The basic idea is that it abstracts both physical location as well as the low-level DAQ interface into one easy-to-use API.

    Here is the best idea for a demo we had so far:

    3 CPU boards total. Two running linux w/ our SOAP server. One running Windows XP. Each has a wireless network card and can see each other through a wireless hub. Each CPU's DAQ section is connected to a board w/ knobs, switches, LEDs, etc (the board is identical for each CPU.)

    The WinXP CPU is the "master", i.e. it is running the UI application of the demo. The application displays real-time status of the knobs and switches and lets you control the state of the LEDs. There is also a drop-down menu that lets you switch which CPU (1-3) to control, on-the-fly. I.e. the application interface stays the same.. you just choose which CPU you are talking to at the moment.

    This demonstrates the basic idea of abstracting the remote DAQs and showing how simple it is to control multiple remote stations in real time w/ one interface.

    The problem is that "knobs and switches and LEDs" isn't good enough for the marketing people. They want something that will attract people to the booth and have them ooooing and aaaahhing. But it also has to demonstrate the basics that I mentioned above.

    Any ideas? :x:

    btw, anyone else going to the ESC?
     
  2. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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    Add NOS stickers? :dunno:

    Could you post a picture of what it looks like now?
     
  3. crotchfruit

    crotchfruit Guest

    We haven't made anything physical yet.. we're still trying to come up with an idea that everyone can agree to.

    The CPU boards are something like 4" x 5".. a little larger than a floppy. Imagine three of them sitting on a desk w/ wireless PCMCIA cards attached and a short 50-pin ribbon cable running to another board w/ knobs and shit. Then you would use one app to control/monitor them all in real time.

    Basically we need to some up with something better than "a board with knobs and shit." For example, I brought up the idea of using the boards to control water flow down a water wheel, but water was too messy. Someone else mentioned making little tanks out of them.. but we figured that would take a lot more work than we are able to put into the project.
     
  4. Astro

    Astro Code Monkey

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    I just went and checked if my company was going to that show - doesn't look like it.

    This sounds like fun, but at the same time is tough - it all depends on what your groups skills are to put something together as well as time frame and money available.

    If it was me, money, time, and skills were unlimited, I'd say definitely go with something interactive. What that could be I don't know since I don't know fully what tricks your gear can do.
     
  5. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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    So the knobs can be turned by the computer (mechanical) or only monitored by the computer?
     
  6. crotchfruit

    crotchfruit Guest

    The DAQ is basically an input/output system for voltages. I.e. it can generate a voltage given a digital value, and it can read back voltages as a digital value.

    So the knob is really just a pot that changes the input voltage -> changes the digital readback -> changes some bar on the screen.

    Output can be like a slider on the screen -> changes an output voltage -> changes the intensity of an LED.

    Basically, anything you can do with varying voltage I/O.
     
  7. Astro

    Astro Code Monkey

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    That means you can do stuff with temperature - that's always cool. Get some thermisters and setup a probe or two. If people have drinks, its fun to dunk the probe in the drink and find out the temperature. Or just holding onto the probe is fun. Maybe tie the temperature value to an LED display. The warmer the temperature, the more the LED glows or something...

    You could do the same with light - I forgot the name - is it photoresistor? Either way, those are fun to play with too.
     
  8. crotchfruit

    crotchfruit Guest

    Interesting, I like. That reminds of someone else's suggestion that we attach each CPU to a tap of one kind of beer. So they click a button on the app and it flips a relay that triggers the tap :hs:
     

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