I'm working on an open-source curriculum project to develop a free physics curriculum. We're trying to build a cheaper version of this dual-range force sensor - https://www.vernier.com/product/dual-range-force-sensor/ that uses a strain gauge. It's attached to a dynamics cart and smashed into stuff to see how force varies with time on a graph. It has a really high sample rate. It's a really good product, but too expensive for most teachers to have a classroom set of.
It needs to be off the shelf and relatively easy for teachers to set up. We've thought about using a linear potentiometer on a spring or a strain gauge. Any advice?
I used to play around with a Basic Stamp but I'm completely new to ardunio programming and have no idea on how to build an interface that can calibrate the force meter and display a graph of force vs time. Are there people who can help with such a thing (maybe paid)?