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NPTEL – Mechanical – Mechatronics and Manufacturing Automation Module 2: Sensors and signal processing Lecture 1 Sensors and transducers Measurement is an important subsystem of a mechatronics system. Its main function is to collect the information on system status and to feed it to the micro-processor(s) for controlling the whole system. Measurement system comprises of sensors, transducers and signal processing devices. Today a wide variety of these elements and devices are available in the market. For a mechatronics system designer it is quite difficult to choose suitable sensors/transducers for the desired application(s). It is therefore essential to learn the principle of working of commonly used sensors/transducers. A detailed consideration of the full range of measurement technologies is, however, out of the scope of this course. Readers are advised to refer “Sensors for mechatronics” by Paul P.L. Regtien, Elsevier, 2012 [2] for more information. Sensors in manufacturing are basically employed to automatically carry out the production operations as well as process monitoring activities. Sensor technology has the following important advantages in transforming a conventional manufacturing unit into a modern one. 1. Sensors alarm the system operators about the failure of any of the sub units of manufacturing system. It helps operators to reduce the downtime of complete manufacturing system by carrying out the preventative measures. 2. Reduces requirement of skilled and experienced labors. 3. Ultra-precision in product quality can be achieved. Sensor It is defined as an element which produces signal relating to the quantity being measured [1]. According to the Instrument Society of America, sensor can be defined as “A device which provides a usable output in response to a specified measurand.” Here, the output is usually an ‘electrical quantity’ and measurand is a ‘physical quantity, property or condition which is to be measured’. Thus in the case of, say, a variable inductance displacement element, the quantity being measured is displacement and the sensor transforms an input of displacement into a change in inductance. Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 1 of 56

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NPTEL – Mechanical – Mechatronics and Manufacturing Automation Transducer It is defined as an element when subjected to some physical change experiences a related change [1] or an element which converts a specified measurand into a usable output by using a transduction principle. It can also be defined as a device that converts a signal from one form of energy to another form. A wire of Constantan alloy (copper-nickel 55-45% alloy) can be called as a sensor because variation in mechanical displacement (tension or compression) can be sensed as change in electric resistance. This wire becomes a transducer with appropriate electrodes and input-output mechanism attached to it. Thus we can say that ‘sensors are transducers’. Sensor/transducers specifications Transducers or measurement systems are not perfect systems. Mechatronics design engineer must know the capability and shortcoming of a transducer or measurement system to properly assess its performance. There are a number of performance related parameters of a transducer or measurement system. These parameters are called as sensor specifications. Sensor specifications inform the user to the about deviations from the ideal behavior of the sensors. Following are the various specifications of a sensor/transducer system. 1. Range The range of a sensor indicates the limits between which the input can vary. For example, a thermocouple for the measurement of temperature might have a range of 25-225 °C. 2. Span The span is difference between the maximum and minimum values of the input. Thus, the above-mentioned thermocouple will have a span of 200 °C. 3. Error Error is the difference between the result of the measurement and the true value of the quantity being measured. A sensor might give a displacement reading of 29.8 mm, when the actual displacement had been 30 mm, then the error is –0.2 mm. Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 2 of 56

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NPTEL – Mechanical – Mechatronics and Manufacturing Automation 4. Accuracy The accuracy defines the closeness of the agreement between the actual measurement result and a true value of the measurand. It is often expressed as a percentage of the full range output or full–scale deflection. A piezoelectric transducer used to evaluate dynamic pressure phenomena associated with explosions, pulsations, or dynamic pressure conditions in motors, rocket engines, compressors, and other pressurized devices is capable to detect pressures between 0.1 and 10,000 psig (0.7 KPa to 70 MPa). If it is specified with the accuracy of about ±1% full scale, then the reading given can be expected to be within ± 0.7 MPa. 5. Sensitivity Sensitivity of a sensor is defined as the ratio of change in output value of a sensor to the per unit change in input value that causes the output change. For example, a general purpose thermocouple may have a sensitivity of 41 µV/°C. 6. Nonlinearity Figure 2.1.1 Non-linearity error Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 3 of 56

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NPTEL – Mechanical – Mechatronics and Manufacturing Automation The nonlinearity indicates the maximum deviation of the actual measured curve of a sensor from the ideal curve. Figure 2.1.1 shows a somewhat exaggerated relationship between the ideal, or least squares fit, line and the actual measured or calibration line. Linearity is often specified in terms of percentage of nonlinearity, which is defined as: Nonlinearity (%) = Maximum deviation in input ⁄ Maximum full scale input (2.1.1) The static nonlinearity defined by Equation 2.1.1 is dependent upon environmental factors, including temperature, vibration, acoustic noise level, and humidity. Therefore it is important to know under what conditions the specification is valid. 7. Hysteresis Figure 2.1.2 Hysteresis error curve The hysteresis is an error of a sensor, which is defined as the maximum difference in output at any measurement value within the sensor’s specified range when approaching the point first with increasing and then with decreasing the input parameter. Figure 2.1.2 shows the hysteresis error might have occurred during measurement of temperature using a thermocouple. The hysteresis error value is normally specified as a positive or negative percentage of the specified input range. Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 4 of 56

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