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Month: September 2023

How does the PASCO Smart Cart Compare to the Vernier Go Direct® Sensor Cart?

Smart Cart Comparison Banner

How does the PASCO Smart Cart Compare to the Vernier Go Direct® Sensor Cart?

The Smart Cart may appear to be equivalent to competitors like Vernier’s Go Direct Sensor Cart–they include many of the same features and specifications–but several distinctions set the PASCO Smart Cart apart.

What’s the Same?

Both Measure:

  • Position
  • Velocity
  • Acceleration
  • Force

Both Feature:

  • Wireless software connection
  • Use on or off a track
  • Plunger

Both Include:

  • USB Cable
  • Rubber Bumper
  • Hook

What’s Different?

PASCO Includes More

The PASCO Smart Cart comes with both hook and loop and magnetic bumpers. The magnetic bumper attaches to the force sensor, enabling you to measure the impulse during a collision. You must order bumpers separately for the Vernier sensor cart.

Smart Cart Callout


PASCO’s design makes it easy to launch the cart at 1x, 2x, and 3x velocities. With F, 2F, and 3F settings built-in to the Smart Cart, students can spend more time gathering data and solving for unknown variables and less time fiddling with cart settings.

This is important because you want to do more collisions, and with included bumpers, you can. Use the hook and loop tabs for inelastic collisions, magnetic bumper for elastic collisions, or unscrew the magnet and replace it with the rubber bumper for harder impacts.


Simple to Use Plunger

The Smart Cart plunger easily clicks into 3 different settings that correlate proportionally to 1, 2, and 3 units of force. By simply pressing the plunger to your desired setting, you can easily launch the Smart Cart at three different velocities that correlate to 1F, 2F, or 3F. Vernier’s plunger does not click into distinct velocity settings. What’s more, the total range of force on the Vernier cart is smaller than the range available to the Smart Cart, as you can only increase the force on the Vernier cart up to 1.3x.


PASCO’s design makes it easy to launch the cart at 1x, 2x, and 3x velocities. With F, 2F, and 3F settings built-in to the Smart Cart, students can spend more time gathering data and solving for unknown variables and less time fiddling with cart settings.

Larger Load Cell Capacity

PASCO’s Smart Cart load cell capacity is ±100N, double that of Vernier’s cart which is ±50N.


A larger load cell capacity means students are less likely to damage the sensor. Measure larger impulses and create collisions with higher impact. Since the sensor can withstand 100N, it is less likely to break during a tug-of-war demonstration of Newton’s 3rd Law.

Smart Cart Rubber Band Experiment

Sealed & Protected Encoder Wheel

PASCO’s encoder wheel is internal and connects to the axle of an existing wheel. Vernier’s encoder wheel is an exposed 5th wheel on the underside of their Sensor Cart.


A built-in optical encoder wheel means it is sealed and protected from everyday student use. It won’t fall victim to dust, grime, or student abuse, ensuring your data is as accurate as possible for kinematics studies.

Higher Encoder Sampling Rate

PASCO’s Smart Cart encoder maximum sampling rate is 500Hz. Vernier’s rate is 30Hz.


A higher sampling rate means you can collect more data points! This is important to match a higher sampling rate of the force sensor during impulse experiments.

Smart Cart Magnetic Collision

PASCO Doesn’t Manipulate the Data!

Vernier’s software performs data smoothing automatically so it cannot be turned off completely.


You’re a science educator who wants your students to collect and graph the real data, so that’s what we give you.

3-Axis Gyro

PASCO’s 3-axis accelerometer includes a 3-axis gyro, and Vernier’s 3-axis accelerometer does not.


The gyro allows you to measure angular velocity right out of the box so you can study centripetal force.

EX-5551 Graph

No Bumper Assembly Required

No classroom management or assembly is required to ensure the magnetic bumper is the correct orientation (north and south poles) for the Smart Cart. For the Vernier cart, you must assemble all magnetic and velcro bumpers separately, and make sure the four pieces for each Vernier cart are accounted for.

Smart Cart with Mass


Fewer pieces and minimal assembly means easier setup, easier cleanup, and less items to lose–giving you more time for investigations.


Bluetooth Time Sync Within & Between Carts

We’ve engineered our Smart Carts to time-synchronize all on-board sensors; In other words, force data syncs with velocity data from the encoder. Further, data also syncs between multiple carts in a collision so the data from both carts lines up. Vernier’s data is out of sync, and synchronization worsens as sampling rate increases.


Dependable time sync between carts means your data and graphs correlate with the phenomenon, making it easy for your students to interpret what their data is showing.

Proportional Smart Cart Masses

The Smart Cart and masses are proportional and stackable; the Smart Cart is 250 grams and the cart masses are each 250 grams. Vernier’s cart is 286 grams and the masses are 125 grams which creates strange multiples of total mass as you add masses.


Stackable and proportional masses create conceptual demonstrations and easier numbers to work into equations, aiding students in understanding core concepts.

Force Velocity Graph

More Accessories Available

PASCO has several add-ons that pair seamlessly with our Smart Cart’s design, including a Smart Fan, Smart Ballistic Accessory, Rod Clamp, Vector Display, and Motor. Vernier does not offer any of these accessories.

Smart Cart with Fan

ME-1244 in use



Do more physics! PASCO’s accessories are designed to easily attach to the Smart Cart so students can examine core physics concepts. Also, when you connect a Smart Accessory to the Smart Cart, the Smart Cart can control the accessory for customizable investigations!


Smart Cart Front Track

ME-1246 View from Top







With an unparalleled design and countless applications in the physics lab, the PASCO Smart Cart will undoubtedly become one of your favorite teaching tools!

Back to School Resources for Fall ’23

Fire up that printer! Charge those devices! Brew that coffee! It’s back to school season everyone, and we’re sharing our top eight tech tips and resources to help you prep like a pro.

Most PASCO sensors and interfaces don’t require any maintenance, but a quick tune-up before school starts can help prevent surprises during class time.

Relevant Resources
Knowledge Base: Updating Firmware for Wireless Sensors and Interfaces
Video: Update the Firmware on a Wireless Sensor (Capstone)
Video: Pre-lab Prep for Chromebooks (SPARKvue)



Skip the chaos of in-class software updates by making sure your class devices are running the latest versions of SPARKvue (v4.9.1) or PASCO Capstone™ (v4.6.1) software prior to starting a lab.

PASCO Capstone™



Whether you use laptops, Chromebooks, or desktop computers, updating to the latest Bluetooth driver helps ensure your PASCO sensors connect reliably to classroom devices.

Relevant Resources
Knowledge Base: Wireless Sensors not Detected on Windows with PS-3500 Adapter
Video: How to Determine the Bluetooth Version of My PASCO Device
Knowledge Base: How Do I Troubleshoot Connecting a Wireless Sensor?

Check that the sensors you’ll be using this year are in working condition. Replacement parts and consumables, such as electrodes and carbon paper, can be ordered through our website or by calling us at 877-967-2726.

Replacement parts and consumables are listed on the Buying Guide tab of their respective product pages. They can also be found by using the search bar at the top of the website.

Common Consumables Replacement Parts
Coin Cell Battery Pack pH Electrode
Carbon Paper Soaker Bottle Replacement pH/ISE (5 Pack)
Field Mapper Kit Replacement Cart Axles
pH Storage Solution Replacement Jumper Clips (Modular Circuits)



Video Library

From full product guides to bite-size how-tos, the Video Library hosts a variety of media to help you maximize your PASCO solutions.

Software Help Guides

Bookmark these handy software guides for quick access to answers during class time. Each guide is fully searchable, making it easy to find step-by-step solutions for most software questions.

Knowledge Base

The Knowledge Base is a treasure trove of resources for your most specific product questions. It’s consistently updated by our Technical Support team and includes answers to all types of FAQs—both new and old!

PASCO Technical Support

When you need personalized, step-by-step guidance, reach out to Technical Support. Our friendly team members are here to help via chat, email, or phone call during business hours.

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