Microcomputers can be used in laboratory testing either for data logging alone or for both data logging and controlling a test. For such applications a microcomputer should possess a larger memory than may be envisaged at the planning stage and incorporate a real-time clock. A full range of interfaces and peripherals should be available. Consideration should be given to built-in obsolescence and the manufacturer's support of the microcomputer. Soil testing with the aid of a microcomputer is a real-time activity; a stable power supply, appropriate software and physical protection are essential.
A database program to aid the selection of design parameters is described; basic field and laboratory data can be stored and subjected to simple manipulations. Both the stored and manipulated data can be selectively plotted. An example of its use in assessing the undrained shear strength of a glacial clay is described. Single entry of the data and a less biased assessment based on all possibly useful data combinations are advantages of the microcomputer approach. Significant time and cost savings can result.
- © The Geological Society 1985