Mistik Askiwin Dendrochronology Laboratory

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MAD Lab Equipment

The MAD Lab is one of western Canada's few all-purpose dendrochronology labs. With many standard and specialized pieces of equipment, the lab has various sanders (hand and table), saws (hand and powered) and drying ovens in its equipment list.  As well, it boasts specialized tree-ring measuring equipment and software. As the lab continues to grow, we are always seeking out new technology that will help our research.

Velmex Stage System - The MAD Lab is equipped with three 24 inch movable Velmex Stages hooked up to a Quick Check digital encoder.  The system is capable of measuring ringwidths to an accuracy of a thousandth of a millimetre. Raw data is captured by J2X software and put into standard tree-ring formats.

Microscope Camera and Tablet - A recent addition to the MAD Lab is the Nikon DS-Fi3 Microscope Camera and the
DS-L4 DS camera control unit. The unit gives us the ability to record what is seen through the microscope, take still photos, make image alterations, and interact with the what is being seen on the tablet screen. This is particularly helpful for teaching, and for making notes while measuring tricky samples.

Microtome - The lab uses a microtome to cut thin wood slices, which are then mounted onto glass slides and examined under the microscope. The microtome allows us to cut wood at different angles and examine the cellular growth from every direction.

Image Analyzing System - The MAD Lab also uses a state-of-the-art WinDendro image analyzing system. This semi-automated equipment comprises a high-resolution, large-area scanner, along with software able to recognize and measure the parameters of rings on prepared samples. Along with the tree-ring component of the WinDendro system, the MAD Lab also has semi-automated leaf (Winfolio) and needle (Wineedle) analyzing software aquired from Regent Instruments.

Drone - We have a DJI Phantom 4 UAV drone with a high powered camera mounted to the underside body. The camera is equipped with a Parrot Sequoia multi-spectral camera, which is capable of multi-spectral photos, opening up a wide range of research possibilities. The drone can be flown either manually with a remote control or it can be pre-programmed to fly specific patterns and heights.

Band Saw - We have a nice band saw with a 17 inch throat to cut most sized detrital and subfossil wood we encounter.  The bandsaw is indispensable with this type of material as we can make a flat, smooth finish before even sanding when we utilize some of the high tooth per inch blades available.

Sanders - We have some hand-held belt and orbital palm sanders, but by far, we mostly use our 4 x 24  belt sanding units.  All six sanders are vented through our exhaust ports to quickly and effeciently sand boards, cores and discs samples.

Buffing Wheel - After sanding, and particularily important with hardwood samples, we usually buff fine particles out of the wood samples with our buffing wheel.  The attachment is connected to a standard drill press and it is very effective to quickly remove dust and apply a fine polish to the samples to enhance our ability to distinguish ring features.

Ported Vent System - As safety is always paramount within the lab, we have a large capacity vacuum unit to help eliminate all dust and wood from each of our saws, and sanding units.  The large unit is surprisingly quiet and effectively eliminates most dust in the dirty lab.

Fine Particle Vent System - Adding to the individual port ventilation system for each piece of equipment, we have installed a ceiling mounted fine particle dust extraction system that eliminates airborne particulates down to five microns.  We believe that this is particularly important to our respiratory systems when we are using fine sanding papers from 320-1000 grit. 

Samples Archive - Though not equipment, an impressive aspect about the MAD Lab is that we have stored every sample collected since 2004! We have boxes and shelves of tree cores and cookies stored away, allowing us the ability to reexamine or remeasure any sample whenever needed. This is especially helpful for continued research which may involve the use of older samples to strengthen chronologies.

Our Kitchen - The Lab is fortunate enough to have a microwave and full-sized fridge. We keep our meals cool while we work, and then nuke 'em when it's time for lunch. Some things you'll find in the fridge include bottles of Powerade/Gatorade, some Smuckers icecream sauce, ice packs to trick the office thermostat, and if you're brave enough, you can search for some one year expired egg nog!

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2014 Mistik Askiwin Dendrochronology Lab

Maintained by Colin P. Laroque
Dec 4, 2017