Every now and then I think about small spectrometers (my university final year project was one). Today I'm thinking about ways to have a battery-powered spectrometer communicate with a smart device.

The way I did it in the project was to host a web server on the spectrometer and have it act as a WiFi hotspot. This seems massively overcomplicated and gave me an intense dislike of creating webapps.

Possible reasons to *want* to connect a spectrometer to the smart device:

- Minimise the UI on the spectrometer (this may not be a good goal, but it would help to reduce the cost of the spec itself to the user)

- Do more processing of the data. I'm not sure how much analysis you'd *want *to do without a PC though.

- Simplify the spectrometer itself (but you're just shifting the complexity elsewhere)

Ways I've thought of to do this:

- Bluetooth - not a lot less complicated than Wifi, but maybe less icky? Tens/hundreds of kbps

- Audio - either over a cable (RIP 3.5mm jacks) or coupling through the air (susceptible to external noise). Basically work like an audio modem. Tens of kbps

- Light! - Use camera screen to transmit to photosensor on spec, use light on spec to transmit to camera on device. Data rate is probably LOW (~60bps)

The audio method is made complicated by the fact that phones have got rid of headphone jacks, but I still like it.

I think the light method is hella cool, and there are probably ways to minimise the transmitted data and make it faster than my initial estimate. (LED matrix?)

Now I've written it down I'm not sure why I've been thinking so much about offloading the UI to a touchscreen. I almost always prefer a physical UI and it's what I like to design, so why don't I do that?


@piggo More button is more better. I need to think about the actual use case for this a bit. I only know one person who actually uses a spectrometer! (the chemist who set the brief for the project)

But yeah, encoder knobs are super nice (especially those oven ones you can push in so they don't stick out when not in use)

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