Low-Cost Solid-State Rain Detector

Hydreon Corporation (Minneapolis, MN) has released the new RG-9 low cost, low power, rugged, and reliable precipitation sensor. It uses beams of infrared light to detect rainfall. Consequently, the sensor is impervious to dirt, dust, insects, birds, and the other nuisances that can plague sensors. Since it consumes very little power, it is well suited to solar-powered applications.

The RG-9 readily senses drops smaller than a millimeter and its threshold can be adjusted to trigger at whatever intensity of rainfall the application requires. The device features a serial output, so trip thresholds may be adjusted as needed by the user's equipment.

The most common type of rain sensor is conductive. This is simple but prone to being left in an “always on” state if the surface becomes contaminated. Also, conductive rain sensors can generally not sense small amounts of water, and the threshold is generally not adjustable.

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Beacons

Fujitsu Component America, Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA) has added a series of Bluetooth® 5 beacons and sensor beacons. Their Bluetooth 5 offers reduced power consumption, faster communication speed, greater LE advertising data communication capacity, and an increased number of channels, compared to their Bluetooth 4.1 predecessors. They also support remote settings using commands from a central unit.

The FWM8BLZ07 beacon features an embedded advertisement function that encrypts data and securely authenticates and decrypts messages by utilizing an anti-spoofing function known as a message authentication code (MAC).

The FWM8BLZ07A is a multi-function sensor beacon that includes embedded temperature, humidity, air pressure, illuminance, 3-axis acceleration, and sound-level sensors. Multiple sensors in different combinations can be used in any Bluetooth environment through the Bluetooth standard beacon protocol to the latest Bluetooth 5 protocol.

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Wireless System for Acquiring Precision Measurement Data

The L.S. Starret Co. (Athol, MA) has announced the introduction of DataSure® 4.0, an advanced wireless system for acquiring precision measurement data. It uses short-wave radio frequencies to interconnect cell phones, computers, and wireless electronic devices, enabling much faster speed, greater bandwidth, and a range of hundreds of yards.

Features include higher bit rates and less than 50ms of data travel time. Its ultra-low latency network enables high data volumes to be processed without delay, even at full capacity. Multiple gateways serve as central or distributed points for data collection. The compact new gateways and repeaters can easily fit in the palm of a hand.

Built on a highly secure proprietary wireless platform, transported data is encrypted using a multi-layered approach that prevents any outside access to the data, whether passive or active. Data is transmitted from gages that have either built-in radio transmitters or externally-mounted end nodes to gateways.

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Liquid Level Reed Switches

TE Connectivity (Berwyn, PA) is offering a series of liquid level switches that use reed switch technology, delivering an extended product life of 10M+ cycles, high electrical load capacity, low contact resistance, and UL approvals. Used in applications such as HVAC, wastewater systems, chemical and petrochemicals, and in the food and beverage industry, they require no power source to facilitate switching action.

The switches can be arranged to have normally closed or normally open switch indication with the rise or fall of liquid, and they can be horizontally or vertically oriented. All housings have at least IP65 enclosure rating and are available in materials such as polypropylene, polyamide, polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), PVC, brass, and stainless steel. The electrical sealing of the level switches allows no direct contact with liquids, which could cause corrosion issues. They can be used in high temperature environments and no EMC testing is required.

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Energy Harvesting Wireless Power

The VP3 energy harvesting power source from Xidas, Inc. (Irvine, CA) captures energy from small vibrations in industrial machinery (motors, blowers, pumps, etc.) and converts it into electrical power that trickle charges a specialized on-board battery. This enables wireless sensors to have access to a perpetual power source that eliminates the cost and headache of battery replacement and maintenance.

Wireless sensors have unique power signatures that put a strain on regular batteries. With the increase in intelligent sensing, sensors can now capture and analyze signatures, monitor for alarms and environment, be network aware, and transmit to customers’ networks. All these wireless devices must balance what the edge device does with how much power capacity the battery can provide. Unfortunately, most wireless sensors typically have a 1 to 2-year lifetime, leading to costly and bothersome battery replacements/maintenance that deem many IoT applications impractical.

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Linear Potentiometer Spring Loaded Position Sensor

The LPPS-MSL Miniature Spring-Loaded Linear Potentiometer position sensors from Harold G. Schaevitz Industries (Bloomfield Hills, MI) are used to monitor and track the linear motion or position of a target. The captive guided spring-loaded shaft incorporates an external helical compression spring to maintain constant contact with the part under measurement. These compact sized sensors are only 16 mm OD making them ideal for installations with limited space. The LPPS-MSL series sensor is made from industrial duty materials for resistance to dust, temperature, shock, and vibration and are engineered for use in a wide range of gauging applications including laboratory, automotive, industrial, motion control, medical, and aerospace.

Features:

  • Spring Loaded Linear Potentiometer

  • Stroke lengths available from 5 to 100 mm (0.2 to 4 inches)

  • Compact Size, housing is only 16 mm diameter

  • Environmental rating of IP61

  • -40°C to 95°C operating temperature range

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Thermal Mass Flowmeters

Endress+Hauser (Greenwood, IN) has launched a line of Proline t-mass F/I 300/500 flowmeters. These thermal mass flowmeters are reliable and versatile for measuring pure gases and gas mixtures. Each has numerous alarm functions, as well as bidirectional measurement capability, and reverse flow detection.

In many industries, thermal flow measuring technology has been used for measuring pure gases and gas mixtures. For example, in research and development labs, measuring flare stack and flue gases, in utilities with compressed air, oxygen, nitrogen, or argon, etc. As a result, when combined with features such as WLAN, and configurable I/O, this opens possibilities for process control, quantity measurement, leak detection, cost allocation, energy management, and other applications.

Even when process and ambient conditions significantly fluctuate, t-mass ensures high measurement accuracy (±1.0%) with excellent repeatability (±0.25%). Gas flows with low pressure and a low flow velocity can also be measured easily thanks to a high turndown ratio. It can operate at process temperatures up to 356°F and pressures up to 580 psi.

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Digital Temperature Sensors

The new STS32 temperature sensor from Sensirion AG (Stafa, Switzerland) comes with an ISO 17025-accredited, three-point calibration certificate. The calibration data and the sensor specifications are compliant with good distribution practices (GDPs) for pharmaceutical and medical logistics. When medical or pharmaceutical products are shipped, minute temperature monitoring has to be maintained to guarantee both product and patient safety. With the analog temperature sensors commonly used in the past, the whole measurement chain had to be calibrated, which limited calibration scalability and cost optimization. Digital sensors incorporating the complete measurement chain on a chip, however, allow precalibrated temperature sensors to be used in data loggers, eliminating the need for the manufacturer to perform additional calibration procedures.

The STS32 is a digital, I2C-based temperature sensor. Its calibration set-points are T = -30°C, 5°C, and 70°C. All the values are provided in a machine-readable CSV file format and can be associated with the sensor in question by using the sensor’s unique, unalterable serial number.

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Clamp-on Ultrasonic Flow Meters

AW-Lake (Oak Creek, WI) introduces a new series of Clamp-On Ultrasonic Flow Meters that fasten on the outside of vertical or horizontal pipes ranging in size from ½" through 48". Housed in a water- and dust-tight NEMA 4X polycarbonate enclosure, the meters are compatible with a range of metal and plastic pipe materials and “difficult liquids” such as chemicals, viscous liquids, and abrasives that would damage standard flow meters. As a result, the non-intrusive, clamp-on ultrasonic sensors feature enhanced flow measurement with no pressure drop in a range of applications such as food or chemical processing plants, oil refineries, and more.

Operating from 100 – 240 VAC, the clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters offer an isolated 4-20 mA signal output. Programmable relays are useable for flow control, pump protection, or flow proportional pulse. A built-in keypad and simple menu system simplify calibration and programming of pipe diameter, pipe material, liquid types, and measurement units.

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Noncontact Differential Measuring System

The Measuring Division of Kaman Precision Products, Inc. (Bloomfield, CT) is releasing the DIT-5200L non-contact displacement measuring system, ideal for fast-steering mirrors, servo control position feedback, stage positioning, and angular displacement indication, as well as X-Y orbit position feedback, and stylus position. It offers differential output for common mode rejection at an economical price. Applications include laser communications, optical stabilization, and magnetic bearings.

Capable of sub-nanometer resolution, its thermal stability is ±.03 percent and has a sensitivity up to 10 volts per mil. It is linear to 0.1 percent of full range, and is available in both single and dual channel configurations. Signal conditioning electronics is packaged in a die cast aluminum box with MCX style sensor connections.

The DIT-5200L uses high precision eddy current balanced bridge technology for detecting the aligned/centered position of a conductive target relative to a pair of non-contacting sensors. For differential measurement applications, two precisely matched sensors per channel are positioned on opposite sides or ends of a target.

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General Purpose Hall-Effect Latch for Cost-Sensitive Applications

Melexis (Tessenderlo, Belgium) is offering the MLX92214 Hall-effect latch for cost-sensitive applications such as power tools, PCs, servers, and home appliances, with features that simplify design and ensure stable magnetic characteristics. It has high magnetic sensitivity that eases magnet selection and relieves constraints on the size of the air gap. Leveraging mixed-signal CMOS technology, the device features an integrated chopper-stabilized amplifier that eliminates output offset. Power consumption is low, with a typical operating current of 2.1 mA. The wide supply-voltage range from 5.5 V down to 2.5 V helps extend the runtime of battery-powered devices.

The ESD-withstand capability of 6 kV (HBM) enhances reliability in applications such as hand tools. Capable of switching at up to 10 kHz, the MLX92214 allows high sampling frequencies for precision measurement at fast rotational speeds. Two temperature grades are available, specified from -40 °C to 125 °C and -40 °C to 150 °C.

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Miniature Bearing Embedment Temperature Sensors

Minco Products Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) has launched the S7 and TC7 line of miniature bearing embedment temperature sensors. They commonly monitor the metal temperature of bearings in rotating equipment — the most reliable indicator of bearing condition — to give early warning of oil film breakdown before costly failures occur. They feature metal casings and a variety of lead wire and cable options to withstand rough handling and harsh environments; five case styles/sizes allow for different installation needs, and they are available with a variety of sensing elements including 100-ohm and 1000-ohm platinum RTDs, 100-ohm and 120-ohm nickel RTDs, plus Type E, J, K, or T thermocouples. They are tri-certified by multiple agencies, including IECEx, ATEX, and North American (CSA US and CSA Canada) for use in hazardous areas.

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High-Accuracy Inclinometer with Machine-Learning Core

The IIS2ICLX from STMicroelectronics Geneva, Switzerland) is a high-accuracy, low-power, 2-axis digital inclinometer for use in applications such as industrial automation and structural-health monitoring. It features a programmable machine-learning core and 16 independent programmable finite state machines that help edge devices save power and reduce data transfers to the cloud.

Using MEMS accelerometer technology, the IIS2ICLX inclinometer has a selectable full scale of ±0.5/±1/±2/±3g and provides outputs over an I2C or SPI digital interface. Embedded compensation maintains stability over temperature to within 0.075 mg/°C, ensuring high accuracy and repeatability even when ambient temperatures undergo extreme fluctuations. Its ultra-low noise density of 15 g/√Hz enables high-resolution tilt sensing as well as sensing of low-level, low-frequency vibration, as required in structural-health monitoring.

Since it is a 2-axis accelerometer, it can sense tilt with respect to a horizontal plane along two axes (pitch and roll) or, by combining the two axes, can measure the tilt with high and repeatable accuracy and resolution with respect to a single direction of the horizontal plane over a range of ±180°.

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Spring-Loaded LVDTs for Surface Measurement

NewTek (Pennsauken, NJ) spring-Loaded LVDTs are used for surface measurement of paper, rubber, paneling and other materials as part of quality control processes in sawmill, wood processing, paneling, rubber, and automotive production plants. They are outfitted with precision wheels and other accessories for active monitoring of materials along a line or conveyor. Data collected from the gaging probes enables operators to monitor a product profile for abnormalities or an out-of-tolerance specs.

They feature a stainless-steel probe assembly and hermetically sealed construction that enables operations in harsh industrial conditions such as exposure to water, sawdust, flying chunks of wood, and other debris. The gage heads are rated 65°F to 185°F, with linearity of ±0.15% of full range.

They provide reliable output for over one million cycles with near-zero drift. Available in measurement ranges of ± 0.04 to ± 2 inches, the gage heads are available in a variety of custom options including right-angle connectors, temperature ranges up to 400°F (200°C), mild radiation resistance to 30 MRad and pneumatic probes.

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Non-Contact Industrial Pyrometer

The new thermoMETER CTRatio pyrometer from Micro-Epsilon (Raleigh, NC) provides accurate results with non-contact temperature measurements in harsh industrial environments. Unlike conventional pyrometers, it delivers constant measurement results even when surrounded by dust, smoke, and vapors, as well as with contaminated lenses, or when the object is moving within the measuring field.

It is based on the ratio measuring principle, which enables reliable measurements in harsh metal processing environments. Even if only 5% of the measurement object is within the measurement spot, the CTRatio provides reliable measurement results. Due to the high spectral sensitivity in the range from 1.45 to 1.75 m, measurements are possible from +250 °C. New calibration methods extend the temperature measuring range to +3000 °C. With a response time of just 1 ms, even high-speed processes can be monitored reliably.

A green sighting laser that works at a wavelength of 520 nm helps alignment of the pyrometer and offers significantly better visibility on red-hot glowing, metallic surfaces.

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Electromagnetic Flowmeters

The KOBOLD Instruments, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) MIM magnetic-inductive flowmeters work without moving parts, unlike rotating vane flow meters.

With extensive options for on-site programming, they are suitable for a wide variety of applications, particularly for batching. Configurable optical buttons can be used to display parameters such as flow rates or temperatures. A changing color system in the display warns of limit violations. Since it is produced in a remote version, the flow meter can be used for media temperatures from -40°F up to +284°F.

The MIM, incorporates an IO-Link to meet Industry 4.0 requirements. It can be set up in just a few steps in the program menu with hot key buttons. The rugged and flexible design enables simple and easy installation, even in tight-fitting pipe systems.

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Sensor Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2021 issue of Sensor Technology Magazine.

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