In principle, a thermocouple is simple: a bimetal circuit, it produces a voltage when its two junctions differ in temperature, a property that makes it, in refined form, the preferred temperature measurement tool for many scientific and industrial applications. The thermocouple's business end-where its measuring junction resides-often consists of a probe. The irony of buying a probe is that it can be harder than understanding how one works.
Even if you know what you want in a probe, all the variables can be confusing. You have to choose a bimetal combination (known as the type or calibration), a length and diameter, a sheath (such as stainless steel or Inconel), a connector style (for attaching lead wires) and a junction type (exposed, grounded or ungrounded). Then you have to calculate how much it's going to cost.
Omega Engineering's Web site has just made the job a lot easier. Its home page has a new "probe configurator" that takes visitors through all the decisions required to configure and price a probe. Every step of the way, you can get context-sensitive help by rolling your mouse pointer over the buttons labeled with a question mark.
Sophisticated graphics guide you through the process and build a probe with the components you select right before your eyes. If at any point you choose a component incompatible with your previous specifications, a box pops up to explain the problem and direct you to a valid alternative.
Within minutes, you'll have a model number and a price for your customized probe. It's all so painless, you may be tempted to call it fun. At the end, Omega gives you the projected delivery time and lets you specify a quantity. Then, you have the option of ordering, editing your configuration or building another probe from scratch. If a problem arises, you can return to the home page and summon an Omega sales representative for live support.
Omega's probe configurator goes beyond elegance and ease of use. It's also so innovative that Omega has applied for a patent. It comes from a world leader in temperature measurement and control, a company long committed to a customer-oriented Web presence that reflects its technological prowess. To give the configurator a try, visit omega.com. For direct access, go to http://www.omega.com/config/probeconfig.html
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