digital calipers & interface software

John Bruner jbruner at GPU.SRV.UALBERTA.CA
Tue May 14 09:58:00 CDT 2002

On Mon, 13 May 2002, Heidi M. Meudt wrote:
> Dear Taxacomers:
> I have become increasingly interested in using digital calipers to
> take morphological measurements on herbarium plant specimens.  I'm
> also interested in finding an appropriate computer program to
> interface the calipers with a spreadsheet program like Microsoft
> Excel or Access to make data collection more streamlined.  If anyone
> has any advice, I'd be very grateful (please respond to the list or
> privately to my e-mail below).  I'm particularly curious to find out
> if anyone (especially botanists) has an opinion regarding how
> calipers vs. rulers/reticles compare when doing measurements on
> herbarium specimens with a dissecting scope in terms of usefulness,
> time issues, ease of use, accuracy, etc.  In other words, is buying a
> digital calipers & interface software worth my money and time, or
> should I stick to rulers and the scope's reticle?
> Thanks in advance!
> Heidi M. Meudt
> doctoral candidate in systematic botany
> University of Texas at Austin
> BIO 311
> Austin, TX 78712  USA

        Dr. Rich Palmer, University of Alberta, has a free downloadable
shareware program called ExCaliper, (ver. 2.02d*; downlaod size is 89K)
for MacIntosh computers (using MAC OS < 10 and a serial port connection)
on his website. Registered users pay a $30 USA fee. The website is:

Here is a summary of the program:
(Digital Caliper Control for Macintosh)
(how to: purchase calipers, download ExCaliper)
General Features

ExCaliper allows measurements to be entered directly from digital calipers
into an editable, spreadsheet-style file on a Macintosh computer. If
specimens are arranged in numerical order, ExCaliper provides an
AUTONUMBER option with user definable prefix and suffix strings. Numeric
values may be entered from the keyboard at any time (this is useful for
entering numeric codes or estimated measurements, or for testing the
functionality of the program in the absence of a pair of calipers). An
audio feedback option verifies valid incoming data. A tool bar provides
quick access to frequently needed functions.

Data may be input through either the serial or printer port, and ExCaliper
may be easily configured to accept data from almost any type of serial
device that transmits numbers.

Data are saved as an ASCII text file with user definable column delimiters
and missing value indicators. Data files may be imported directly into
Statview or Excel, for example, with row and column labels properly
assigned. ExCaliper can Open/Import and interpret almost any form of text
file in which data are arranged in rows and columns.
Detailed Information
A.R. Palmer Home Page
Program, help file & WWW page copyright  1997-2002 by A. Richard Palmer.
All rights reserved.
(revised Jan. 12, 2002)


Also, Fowler is currently having a sale right now to the end of May on its
electronic calipers.  Fowler's calipers' connection kit unfortunately
only comes with the software and hardware for using the calipers on an
IBM.  You would have to buy an additional adapter and cable (with a
serial port connection) to connect to a Mac and use Dr. Palmer's software
for using the calipers.

* Mr. John C. Bruner                                 *
* Department of Biological Sciences                  *
* University of Alberta                              *
* Edmonton, Alberta  _______/////____/~~)______/==== *
* T6G 2E9  CANADA   /_ @  > />...w...w.........===== *
* (780) 492-4622    \ ______________,__________===== *
* FAX: (780) 492-9234        \>       \>       \==== *
* EMAIL: jbruner at                 *
* HOME PAGE:         *

More information about the Taxacom mailing list