March 2006 ---New, Innovative IR Thermometer from the Minds of...
A new Cyclops™ Infrared Thermometer has been born..er...hached..er.. created (that sounds best). The Cyclops™ Model C100 from Land Instruments International has appeared on the scientific and industrial instrument marketplace without much ballyhoo and glitter. Yet, it's understated presence belies some remarkable things about it and its forebears. Simply stated: it is the latest in a long family of Cyclopses, the replacements for the venerable Optical Pyrometer.
In its earliest incarnations in the 1980s as the Minolta-Land Cyclops (It doesn't sound quite right, but the root word is Greek, not Latin), they were breakthrough devices, very innovative and actually more accurate in most uses than the century-plus, much venerated, old Disappearing Filament Optical Pyrometers.
The latest Cyclops, Model C100, is no less innovative in its own quiet way. It is the first portable IR thermometer, of which we are aware, to incorporate Bluetooth RS-232 communications capability.
A brief walk through Cyclops™ history
When the first Cyclops Model 51 was sold, by the Land companies, then Land Pyrometers Ltd. in the UK and Land Instruments Inc. in North America, it was also understated, but powerful in the market. In a few short years it and the even more capable Cyclops Model 52, displaced the Optical Pyrometer in all but a few uses.
Going back, first...in the beginning, in the late 1970s, Land Pyrometers, Infrared Division in the UK was developing their own high-temperature handheld IR thermometer to compete with the Leeds & Northrup (L&N) Optical Pyrometer which held a significant portion of the portable, noncontact temperature sensor market around the world. When, at around the same time, the Minolta Camera Company of Japan produced a prototype handheld, automatic thermometer that covered the most important portions of the industrial high temperature range. In comparison with the Land planned unit, the Minolta design was compact, light, sleek and had SLR optics that were adjustable focus and gave a wide view of the observed area.
Then the two companies met.
Minolta had a great, well-designed instrument but no experience in the industrial markets. Whereas, Land had years of experience in the metals, glass and ceramics markets and their first prototype was already getting known as "The Meat Tenderizer" by most of the people charged with marketing it. It was very ugly. Add to that the difference in experience in blackbody calibration and traceability (Land~100%, Minolta~50%) and it was a match destined to be made. A deal was struck and Land began selling the Minolta made instruments around the world except for the Japanese home market; Minolta retained that.
The Cyclops 51 and 51F and their successors and variants, the Cyclops 52, 152, 41, 241, 252 etc. were smaller, faster, lighter, less expensive than Optical Pyrometers and didn't require as much user judgment or training. They produced results that were just as accurate, if not better than an optical measurement, and often did better even in the hands of a new user.
The Cyclops had six other significant features that distinguished them mightily from Opticals.
First, they had a precision emissivity adjustment, something DPFs lacked. That meant immediate correction for an object's emissivity, assuming it was known. No look-up tables needed.
Second, they had an electrical output that could be recorded by a portable or fixed chart recorder and/or datalogger, or actually used as an input to a control system. Opticals never had a recordable output. They depended on the operator to manually write down a reading.
Third, they were, and still are (in the higher temperature models), orders of magnitude faster than Opticals. They could follow rapidly changing temperature readily and with the output feature, record them reliably.
Fourth, the operator's temperature reading was a digital display and could be "peak-picked" to capture high temperature transients. Opticals could never be adjusted rapidly enough to catch a rapid change or spike in temperature.
Fifth, a Cyclops 51 or 51F took only one 9-volt transistor-radio battery, available almost everywhere, to power it. Even today, the latest models use only a few small, common batteries. Plus there is an auxilliary line-power supply for use in semi-continuous datalogging situations.
Sixth, and most useful, the Cyclops had the wonderfully crisp, clear adjustable-focus Minolta optics with the measurement spot defined by a small graticle in the field of view, and, the field of view included the temperature display. The newer models incorporate an auxillary digital readout on the side of the case, too.
Cyclops combined innovative features, especially its short response time of 0.08 seconds, have yet to be fully matched by any price-competetive Infrared Thermometer in the last 20+years. No wonder the Optical Pyro has effectively vanished! (The evaporation of Leeds and Northrup under General Signal Corporation's watch did help speed things along a little, too).
Other companies, notably Ircon, Inc, Chino Instruments and Mikron Infrared (formerly Mikron Instrument Company, Inc.) produced competitive devices. They helped hasten the slide of the Optical Pyrometer into the realm of instrument antiquity.
We know of only two companies that make or sell Disapperaing Optical Pyrometers, ostensibly on the basis of "better accuracy" because of the short wavelength of 0.6 microns. If the users don't yet know, there has been a special Cyclops model around for several years called the "Meltmaster" (C228) with an effective wavlength of O.55 microns. Ircon and Mikron Infrared have similar models, too. Plus Mikron makes two color, ratio thermometers in a portable configuration
The Cyclops Family Picture Album:
First there was one Cyclops, the Model 51, then very shortly thereafter there were two, the 51 and 51F. Yes there were initially two different models because they were mostly analog instruments and used different linearizer circuits. You know when there's two of anything what can happen next.
You got it, a family was born!
The "proud parents"
(Images courtesy ebay.com, where we found a few on sale)
Cyclops Model 51
Cyclops Model 51F
The first all digital Cyclops, Model C52. appeared a few years later and it smacked down the Optical Pyrometers in the marketplace!
Here's an incomplete gallery of images and tidbits about the different Cyclops family members over the last twenty or so years.
From left to right, recent Cyclops Models are the New C100; the unit it replaces, the C153; the Meltmaster, C228; The Medium Temperature C241 and the low temperature workhorse, the C300.
The trio of mini Cyclops on the left were part of the response of Minolta-Land to the popularity of very low cost general purpose instruments like the Raytek Mini, but they couldn't compete effectively on price and appear to have been discontinued.
There was an earlier low temperature Cyclops called the Compac, but we have not found an image of one yet to add to this gallery. We are seeking an image or two still.
Before the very low cost market heated up, the Cyclops family included a wide range of products such as the Tele, with its very large mirror optical system for measuring near ambient temperatures at relatively long distance, shown in the background here and two special waveband units, one at 3,9 microns for looking through hot combustion gases and one at 3.4 microns for measuring thin plastics. They line has always included one or more add on dataloggers, one with a printer as shown. The high-performance C300 has survived nearly without change since the early 1990s.
On the left is a side view of the Cyclops Model C152, the real workhorse of the family. For nearly 10 years, from the late 1980s to the late 1990s this was the unit used in many high-temperature places like metals processing plants, glass factories etc. It came with a sturdy carrying case, but its big innovation was the fully sealed body to resist the ingress of dust and moisture that were the biggest sources of instrument problems used in industrial plants.
Minolta engineered a complex, but reliable, inner-adjustable lens system that had no external screw threads. Dirt didn't "screw up" the threads anymore. It just made the best device on the market even more superior.
We are also still seeking a photo of the all-digital Cyclops 52 to add to this page to complete it. The case color and style of the Cyclops 52 was very much like the Cyclops 241 shown above.
Check back to see when we've found them.
Note: Cyclops is a Trademark of Land Instruments International Ltd.
Footnote: Why do I care about all this stuff?
Chalk it up to a combination of personal involvement and a misguided, possibly compulsive sense of history about temperature measurement devices, infrared ones in particular. I had a big hand in the introduction of the Cyclops to North America as the General Manager and then VP of Engineering of Land Instruments in the USA during Cyclops's first, second and third generations. I like to think that I helped make it a big part of the Land organization's product portfolio by insisting on having it to sell in North America when the first prototypes were offered to Land by Minolta in the late 1970s.
Then, I actually got to use and see first hand the remarkable accuracy, reliability and stability of the devices, especially the Cyclops 152, 241 and 300 Models, during the 1990s as the Senior Staff Engineer for Temperature Measurement at LTV Steel Company's Technology Center. We not only equipped several in-house Calibration Laboratories with them as reference standards, but used them for process investigations and trouble-shooting on many hot-strip mills, taconite pellet process lines, reheat furnaces, annealing lines and process simulation devices.
They never failed in my experience of more than twelve years duration. I published several technical papers based in large part on field measurements in operating steel plants made with Cyclops family models. Some of those very same devices may be still in use even though LTV Steel has evaporated.
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