A low-cost, portable, and simplified system has been developed that is suitable for in-situ calibration and/or evaluation of multi-axis inertial measurement instruments (e.g., accelerometers). This system overcomes facility restrictions and maintains or improves the calibration quality for users of accelerometer-based instruments with applications in avionics, experimental wind tunnel research, and force balance calibration applications. The apparatus quickly and easily positions a multi-axis accelerometer system into a precisely known orientation suitable for in-situ quality checks and calibration. In addition, the system incorporates powerful and sophisticated statistical methods, known as response surface methodology and statistical quality control. These methods improve calibration quality, reduce calibration time, and allow for increased calibration frequency, which enables the monitoring of instrument stability over time. This technology overcomes the limitations and restrictions on accelerometer calibration facilities by:

  • Minimizing reliance on a fixed calibration system,
  • Leveraging the user’s data acquisition system,
  • Allowing for increased calibration frequency due to improved accessibility, and
  • Automatically compensating for local gravitational field.

The cuboidal positioning system can be used to calibrate or evaluate single, dual, or triaxial packages. The system employs a simplified, linear mathematical model that is a function of gravitational components.

At the time of this reporting, NASA has built six systems in support of program operations. Further development is expected to expand the system’s capabilities to other instruments and to complete temperature characterization.

This work was done by Tom Finley and Peter Parker of Langley Research Center. For further information, contact the Langley Innovative Partnerships Office at (757) 864-8881. LAR-17163-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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