Data logger, oscilloscope, signal generator and more!

DrDAQ is a versatile instrument that connects to the USB port of any PC. Using the supplied PicoScope software it can be used as an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer and signal generator.

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Testing the effect of insulators on the rate of cooling of water


DrDAQ is used here with the two external temperature probes, one for the control and one for each Educational data loggerof the insulated containers. This experiment looks at the effectiveness of different materials in reducing the loss of heat energy from a container (boiling tube). Students should know how to carry out a fair test and have some knowledge of conduction. More advanced students should be able to discuss radiation and evaporation.

The experiment could be set as a challenge e.g. if you were planning an investigation to Antarctica what materials would keep you warmest? This investigation could then form a part of a larger investigation into explorers, adaptations of organisms for different climates and food. The experiment is suitable for students of 11 and over.

Equipment required

  • DrDAQ data logger connected to a PC
  • Two external temperature probes
  • 12 boiling tubes
  • Measuring cylinder
  • Test tube rack
  • Kettle
  • Elastic band
  • A selection of materials. We used:
    • Bubble wrap
    • Aluminum foil
    • Polystyrene (Styrofoam)
    • Dry paper towel
    • Wet paper towel

Experiment setup

  • Plug the pH probe into DrDAQ and run PicoLog data logging software.
  • Cover 6 boiling tubes with insulating material and secure with an elastic band.
  • Boil a kettle and pour 40 cm3 of water into two boiling tubes. Take care with the hot water.
  • Place one external probe into each of the boiling tubes and start recording. This needs to be done as quickly as possible.

Questions and discussion of results

  1. Which insulating material kept the water warmest?
  2. Why do you think this material kept the water warm?
  3. In which boiling tube did the water cool most quickly? Why do you think this is?
  4. Were any of the results different from what you expected? Why?
  5. Was the experiment a fair test? Could it have been improved? How?
  6. If you were lost on a mountain it is important that you stay dry. Why do you think this is?
  7. Why does sweating cool you down?

Further study

  • Students could calculate the drop in temperature for each experiment.
  • Instead of using the materials suggested here the students coats could be used and therefore a comparison of their effectiveness made.
  • Penguins keep warm by huddling. They constantly move so that each penguin gets a time in the centre and edge of the group. Students could design an experiment to test the effectiveness of huddling in keeping organisms warm.
  • Which keeps you warmer, one thick layer or many thin layers.


  • The kit (2408B) is of obvious quality, easy to setup and calibrate and the free to download software has a reasonable learning curve. Superb kit, superb support, what more can I say.

    Rop Honnor
  • I have been using my 4224 PicoScope for years. I travel abroad so this has been ideal due to its physical size. Storage of waveforms on my Laptop is very easy allowing me to quickly email waveforms to my Colleagues.

  • Not many USB scopes works on Win & Mac & Linux too, so that proves me that guys from Pico really cares about us, customers. This made my decision much easier when I was looking to buy an USB scope.

    Raul Trifan
  • We have been using Picoscope 6404D for quite some time, and are amazed by its accuracy and powerful emulations while working with numerous signal evaluations.

    J Mohanty
  • PicoLog TC-08: This is a very nice unit that works consistently and reliably.

    Jeff Hulett
  • It is a great scope. I had a weird problem - it did not work on one of my PC’s. Customer service gave me first class service. If I could give 6 stars for customer service - I would do so.

    Niels Larsen
  • Perfect Partner for Development of Encoder controlled Stepper Motor Actuators. Since the included software is really stable, this type of device is a great tool for great tasks!

    Helmut Schoettner
  • A superb piece of equipment worth its weight in gold

    Nigel Clinch
  • So simple to use & beats any other I have ever used hands down.

    John D Samsing
  • Rather than webcam our benchtop scope screen, it was suggested we use a PicoScope to share waveforms via screen share.

    We were a bit hesitant at first … but it worked flawlessly, and everybody is now out shopping for PicoScopes!

    T Lövskog • SVP of Innovation at Additude AB
  • Great functionality in a compact size. I really like moving the mouse pointer to a position and having the Time and Voltage display the values at that point. Calibration equipment is a breeze with that feature.

    Don Horein

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