Electrical connection of force transducers
What you should keep in mind
1. Transducers based on strain gauges
Strain gauge (SG) based force transducers are widely used and offer reliable operation even in unfavorable ambient conditions. The mechanical installation has already been dealt with in the article on 'Installation of force transducers'. Here, we want to address the electrical connection.
Strain gauge based sensors use the so-called Wheatstone bridge. This bridge circuit comprises four resistors connected as shown below:
It is essential that all strain gauge sensors are fed with an adequate supply voltage or bridge excitation voltage Ub.
This excitation voltage Ub is provided by the amplifier systems. Typical values range between
2.5 and 10 V. The right value for your force transducer can be found in the data sheet; see 'Operating range of the excitation voltage'.
The above circuit diagram shows that four leads are sufficient to operate a Wheatstone bridge. Two leads supply the sensor with electric voltage, the other two leads feed the amplifier with the measuring voltage.
2. What is the exact value of a strain gauge transducer's output voltage?
A sensor's exact nominal (rated) sensitivity can be found in the test certificate. In most cases, this sensitivity is 2 mV/V, with the nominal (rated) force being applied.
As already mentioned above, the amplifier systems feed the measuring bridge with a bridge excitation voltage. This bridge excitation voltage often is 5 V. If your force transducer's nominal (rated) sensitivity is 2 mV/V, 10 mV are available at the amplifier's input stage when the force transducer is loaded with nominal (rated) force. For example, when you use an S2M/100 N (100 N nominal (rated) force, 2 mV/V sensitivity at nominal (rated) force) and load it with 100 N you obtain 10 mV.
In general, the measured value is not always 100 N; in fact, it should also be possible to detect smaller values. If you want to have a measurement signal resolution of 0.1 N, 10 µV are available at the input stage.
If your amplifier has a resolution of 100,000 divisions, which is still less than a high-precision instrument such as HBM's DMP41 offers, this corresponds to the relationship between the height of the Eiffel tower (321 m) and the thickness of a CD case.
Requirements are significantly higher with increasingly complex measurement tasks. The better the connection corresponds to the measurement task the more reliable are aour measurement results.
3. Sensors in four wire circuit
Strain gauge measurement technology requires a minimum of four wires to be connected. Many sensors work according to this principle, which is called four wire circuit. This configuration is shown below.
The lead resistances are drawn in the supply leads. These resistances are to show that the lead resistance must not be neglected.
HBM force transducers with a four wire circuit have been calibrated including the sensor cable, i.e. the sensitivity is correct at the cable ends; cutting the cable results in a change in sensitivity. We recommend that you do not cut the cable for the calibration to be maintained.
Enter the sensitivity as specified in the test report:
A test report provides a lot of information. The sensitivity is an important value enabling you to set up the amplifier. Example: U93/1kn force transducer
The cables running to the amplifier input need not be taken into account. Since modern amplifiers use high-resistance input stages, the voltage drop in these lines can be neglected.
4. Sensors in six wire circuit
Many sensors use the six wire circuit. They use two additional leads controlling the excitation voltage at the bridge. Should the cable resistance vary as a result of temperature influence or a change in cable length, the amplifier makes internal readjustments until the setpoint value is reached again.
The advantage of this circuit is that you can use very long cables (up to 500 m) without the sensors' sensitivity being affected. Lead resistance variations caused by temperature variations also do not impact the measurement result.
This is particularly advantageous when the cable temperature and the temperature of the force transducer are not identical.
With HBM force transducers, the cable shield is always connected to the housing. The resulting Faraday cage blocks electromagnetic fields, thus avoiding interference. If sensor cables need to be extended, connect the sensor cable's shield to the extension's shield to keep up the Faraday cage. Connect the plug such that the shield is brought extensively into contact with the plug.
If the transducer and amplifier have different potentials, compensating currents can flow via the cable shield that cause major interference. Ideally, you should make a low-resistance connection (potential equalization line). We recommend using a cable with 16 mm2 cross-section.
Should this not be experimentally possible, the shield in the plug may be cut. In any case, this is the 'second-best' solution.
HBM offers a wide range of measuring cables that have proven their suitability. Varied requirements are made on a measuring cable: low-capacitance, temperature-stable, symmetrical.