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Author Topic: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer  (Read 20253 times)

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Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« on: 16:16:15, 30 September, 2011 »
After reading DaveG's post (http://ukastroimaging.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=52701.0) regarding his building of a magnetometer to track the effects of the solar wind I did indeed do as I said and went on a mass googelling session.

The result of that session was the discovery of a number of different ways of building a magnetometer. The one that stood out for me was one that could be obtained in kit form from a small welsh engineering company but who produce what appears to be one of the best/most sensitive sensors on the market... so sensitive infact that it needs to be placed in a East/West orientation as to place it North/South would saturate it !

Anyway, to cut a long story short and after a nice chat with Bill Speake who owns the company (http://www.speakesensors.com/) I placed an order for the kit which duly arrived a couple of days ago.

I have to say that whilst I have a fair amount of knowledge of electronic builds this one is going to be a total voyage of discovery and test those skill (plus a lot more I currently don't have) to the max.

So, let the story begin....
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
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Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Online chris.bailey

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #1 on: 18:06:55, 30 September, 2011 »
Oh I will be following this one with great interest. I do like your confidence, if it had been me I would have bought two of everything in the full and certain knowledge that I would make a cods of the first lot!
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Offline Astronomyshed

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #2 on: 16:16:59, 29 October, 2011 »
Building the fluxgate thing isn't the hard part, fitting it in the delorean is the hard bit!

Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #3 on: 14:41:17, 23 April, 2013 »
Well 18 months have passed and I'm finally in a new house so it's time to resurrect the Delorean Fluxgate Magnetometer Project...

The story so far....

As described above in the OP I ordered my kit from Bill and shortly after I started this thread I build it (pictures below).... because I knew we were looking to move house and because the device needs to be buried [as it's the best way to create a thermally stable environment as the Fluxgate sensor is very temperature sensitive so needs to be kept at a constant temp for calibration/accurate magnetic reading] I knew it wasn't worth taking it any further so it got mothballed.

Well, two weeks into the new house with a nice big garden crying out for an Obsy (with a Fluxgate Magnetometer buried underneath it) the mothballs were removed last week and a data logger [http://www.dataq.com/products/startkit/di145.html] was ordered from the US which duly arrived today.

The future....

For those of you that are interested, when I have a bit more time for I'll go into a bit more detail about how the whole things works but in effect you have a fluxgate sensor, stored in a waterproof housing 2 to 3 feet underground, which when the earths magnetic field changes (due in main to solar activity) registers a change in voltage/current... this analogue signal is then converted into a digital one using some fifty electronics which is all part of the kit from Bill.  This signal is than sent and stored on a data logger which in turn is down loaded onto a PC/Laptop for display using DataQ's WinDaq software.

Easy, eh.... only time will tell.

....to be continued....

Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline swashy

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #4 on: 16:40:44, 23 April, 2013 »
Good to hear the move went ok and you are settling in Si  8)

Very interested in seeing this take shape, and seeing the data, how do you keep it watertight and accessible for maintenance?
Ade

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Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #5 on: 18:57:50, 23 April, 2013 »
Cheers mate !  I'm knackered but it's worth it  :yes:

..how do you keep it watertight and accessible for maintenance?

Plumbing parts (you can see a few bits in the first photo)  :D

I figured if it can keep water in it can keep it out too and I have quite a lot of it at the moment having to replace three bathrooms in the new pad  :hurt: :surprise:

S.
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline swashy

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #6 on: 23:39:29, 04 May, 2013 »
Forget the bathrooms, I wanna see this thing in action  :butt:
Ade

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Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #7 on: 08:21:16, 05 May, 2013 »
I do too mate but sadly the boss thinks the need for somewhere to go to the loo and have a wash is more important. Honestly how silly is that?

The plans for the outside office and obsy are taking shape so hopefully I'll get it up and running over the summer whilst we're in solar maximum :thumbup:

I've also decided that I need an oscilloscope to test it all so been on the hunt for one of those too.

I'll post more details when I get a bit more free time in the next few weeks  :yes:

S.
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline MikeDunn

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #8 on: 10:38:58, 05 May, 2013 »
I've also decided that I need an oscilloscope to test it all so been on the hunt for one of those too.
IIRC, there's an app for that ... honest !
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Offline Dogman

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #9 on: 12:33:02, 06 May, 2013 »
I've also decided that I need an oscilloscope to test it all so been on the hunt for one of those too.

I've got one you can borrow mate - pop on over sometime (or PM me your new address)
Dunc

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Offline tomhow

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #10 on: 16:42:33, 06 May, 2013 »
That's an interesting one Simon!

Any idea what magnetometer it actually uses? I've got a couple kicking around here...
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Offline Nomis Elfactem

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #11 on: 09:56:53, 16 May, 2013 »
Tom - it's a kit I've built supplied from Speake Sensors who make the fluxgate sensors !  More details can be found here: http://www.speakesensors.com/.  I got the idea for making it from here http://www.backyardastronomy.net/compass_magnetometer.html... if you scroll half way down you will find the Fluxgate Magnetometer bit using the Speake sensor buried in the sand !

Dave (if you're reading this) - this (http://ukastroimaging.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=58094.msg482989#new) is really interesting but the missing bit for me is the code you're running to get the PIC to do it's stuff... any chance of seeing it (I'll sign a NDA if that helps and/or send it via PM if you don't want it to go public)... the concept I'm struggling with is the link between the PIC and the laptop... in my example I can see how the Arduino can be coded to take the Fluxgate readings and place them onto a MicroSD shield and I can see the library that sets the directory structure in the FAT32 formatted card (I think) but how do I get the data off the SD Card and onto the laptop... does my laptop see the card as an external drive and I just open, select and download it ?

The good news is that I successfully connected the Arduino and programmed it to flash it's LED but the next (programming) steps are proving a bit hard to grasp (I think I'm missing a number of concepts but I can't find a decent explanation on the interweb  :'(

S.
Simon

Scopes: Astro-Tech AT-111EDT Triplet, TS65ED Quad, Orion ST80, Modded PST-90 Solar Scope, PST Cak (on loan)
Cameras: SXVF H694, Atik 16ic, Canon EOS 600d, DMK41, DMK21, QHY 5L-II (mono & colour)
Accessories: SX USB Filter Wheel, SX OAG, Baader LRGB Ha SI OII Filters, SharpSky Focuser
Mount: EQ6 (EQMOD), SW Star Adventurer, plus a lot (and I mean a lot) of other bits and pieces

Offline tomhow

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #12 on: 10:27:11, 16 May, 2013 »
If your SD card is on the Arduino , you need to write code on the arduino to transfer the data to the PC via serial or wireless.  And a program on the PC to consume this data.
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Offline dtrewren

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #13 on: 23:43:26, 17 May, 2013 »
Hello Simon,

I am still here clinging to the wreckage ..... been one of those work weeks you can do without   :scare:

I suspect (as Tom suggested) that the Arduino SD card is stand alone and local to the Arduino platform.  Therefore data will be read from the sensor and then written to the SD card locally.  So the Arduino card processor is running an SD card driver, probably a library function, which allows data to be scribbled onto the card.

In the case of the SharpSky platform there is a USB connection between the PIC and the PC.  So the PIC is running a driver (in the case of USB usually referred to as a stack or mini stack) which operates in conjunction with the PICs USB hardware peripheral.  At the PC end the Microsoft framework USB stack is used.  It sounds more complicated than it really is - essentially the PIC pops data into a buffer and the PC gets an interrupt and receives it.  I a similar manner downlink data is written into a buffer by the PC and the PIC receives an interrupt when it arrives.  The USB part is more or less transparent and could just as easily be a serial bus or a carrier pigeon  :D

In the case of the current SQM project I am using a Bluetooth module to convey data over a serial link.  At the moment I am using the link solely for debug information.  This is REALLY useful and takes a massive amount of guesswork out of PIC code development.  All that happens is the PIC opens up a standard 9600,8,1 serial port (the PIC has a UART serial peripheral). You then simply throw data at the port which is connected in my case to a Bluetooth transceiver.  The data goes over the air and appears at the PC as a serial COM port.  At the moment I am just using a free terminal (PuTTY) on the PC to connect to the COM port.  So as my PIC code runs I send messages at strategic or interesting points in the run time and those messages subsequently arrive and are displayed on my terminal PC screen.  However, you would generally open up such a COM port from within your PC application written in say Visual Basic, C++ or in my case C#. Tom has just posted a very informative video on how to go about writing an ASCOM client (good job Tom).  Using Visual Studio in this way allows one to write an application for virtually anything - Visual studio is free from Microsoft and is the gateway to anything you might want to create on the PC.

I think in order to get something up and running I would start by :

- Connect the Arduino board to the PC using a cabled asychonous serial connection (Tx, Rx & Ground)
- Use standard Arduino libraries to create a 9600,8,1 serial port connection
- At the PC end connect the COM port you have chosen to PuTTY .... it's free
- Write 'Hello World' to your COM port at the Arduino
- All being well your message should appear at the PC on the PuTTY window

Once that is going the sky is the limit !

Hope that makes things a little clearer ?

Any question fire away !

Cheers,

               Dave
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Offline swashy

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Re: Building a Fluxgate Magnetometer
« Reply #14 on: 00:05:19, 18 May, 2013 »
Wow, this is looking way too complex for the likes of me, I guess I'll just be using my spade for the potatoes  :confused:
Ade

Imagine...  above us only sky!

 

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