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HP Palmtop helps modify SmartLevel

HP Palmtop helps modify SmartLevel

The particular brand of digital inclinometer used, the SmartLevel, is manufactured by an Oklahoma City company named Macklan-burg-Duncan. The SmartLevel has a power-down feature similar to the one on the HP Palmtop. To conserve batteries, the SmartLevel shuts down its LCD display if its function buttons are not pressed for 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, this otherwise useful feature was creating problems for the structural engineers. They didn't want to have to leave someone in the building to press the SmartLevel on button every five minutes. They contacted Mack-lanburg-Duncan with their problem, and got a quick solution.

Steve Rhodes, a Tool and Design Engineer for the company, and subscriber to The HP Palmtop Paper, described what happened as follows:

The emergency response structural engineers contacted us for help. We already had a program written for the manufacturing process that was able to modify the SmartLevels EEPROM chip. It let us reprogram the SmartLevel so its LCD would display continuously.

We responded within 45 minutes of their call. I used a specially modified HP Connectivity Cable to connect an HP 200LX to the SmartLevel. I then ran our proprietary software on the 200LX, letting us reprogram the EEPROM chips. Some units were modified at our plant just two miles from the blast site. Others were modified at the logistics center near the blast sight.

The use of the HP Palmtop and modified connectivity cable allowed the engineers of Macklan-burg-Duncan to modify the SmartLevel units so they would operate continuously, ensuring the safety of the crews.

[Editors Note: SmartLevel is not designed specifically to work with the HP Palmtop. However, the SmartLevel Pro 3600 comes with a serial port that allows it to interface with a desktop PC with a serial port. The software mentioned in this article is for in-house manufacturing purposes and not available to the public.]

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