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# STRAIN GAUGES

## The strain gauge is an example of a passive transducer that uses

the variation in electrical resistance in wires to sense the strain
produced by a force on the wires.
It is well known that stress (force/unit area) and strain
(elongation or compression/unit length.
Pressure is directly related to the modulus of elasticity.
ince strain can be measured more easily by using variable
resistance transducers!
It is a common practice to measure strain instead of stress! to
serve as an index of pressure such transducers are popularly
known as strain gauges.
If a metal conductor is stretched or compressed! its resistance
changes on account of the fact that both the length and diameter
of the conductor changes.
"lso! there is a change in the value of the resistivity of the
conductor when sub#ected to strain! a property called the pie\$o%
resistive effect.
Therefore! resistance strain gauges are also known as pie\$o
resistive gauges.
&hen a gauge is sub#ected to a positive stress! its length
increases while its area of cross%section decreases.
ince the resistance of a conductor is directly proportional to its
length and inversely proportional to its area of cross%section! the
resistance of the gauge increases with positive strain.
The change in resistance value of a conductor under strain is
more than for an increase in resistance due to its dimensional
changes. This property is called the pie\$o%resistive effect.
'
The following types of strain gauges are the most
important.
1. Wire strain gauges
2. oil strain gauges
!. Semi"on#u"tor strain gauges
1. Resistan"e Wire Gauge
(esistance wire gauges are used in two basic forms! the
unbonded type! and the bonded type.
I. Un\$on#e# Resistan"e Wire Strain Gauge
"n unbonded strain gauge consists of a wire stretched between
two points in an insulating medium! such as air.
The wires are kept under tension so that there is no sag and no
free vibration.
)nbonded strain gauges are usually connected in a bridge
circuit.
The bridge is balanced with no load applied.

II. %on#e# Resistan"e Wire Strain Gauge
This is usually bonded to the member undergoing stress.
*
The grid of fine wire is bonded on a carrier which may be a thin
sheet of paper! +akelite! or Teflon.
The wire is covered on the top with a thin material! so that it is
not damaged mechanically.
The spreading of the wire permits uniform distribution of stress.
The carrier is then bonded or cemented to the member being
studied.
This permits a good transfer of strain from carrier to wire.
" tensile stress tends to elongate the wire and thereby increase
its length and decrease its cross%sectional area.
The combined effect is an increase in resistance! as seen from
the following e,uation
Types of Strain Gauges &Wire'
1. Gri# type
2. Rossette type
!. Tor(ue type
). *eli"al type
-
To o\$tain goo# results+ it is
#esira\$le that a
resistan"e wire strain
gauge ha,e the following
"hara"teristi"s.
'. The strain gauge should
have a high value of gauge
factor (a high value of
gauge factor indicates a
large change in resistance
for particular strain!
implying high sensitivity).
*. The resistance of the
strain gauge should be as
high as possible! since this
minimi\$es the effects of
undesirable variations of
resistance in the
measurement circuit
-. The strain gauge should
have a low resistance
temperature coefficient.
This is necessary to
minimi\$e errors on account
of temperature variation!
which affects the accuracy
of measurements.
.
.. The strain gauge should
not have hysteresis effects
in its response.
/. In order to maintain
constancy of calibration
over the entire range of the
strain gauge! it should
have linear characteristics!
i.e. the variation in
resistance should be a
linear function of the
strain.
oil Strain Gauge
This class of strain gauges
is an extension of the
resistance wire strain
gauge. The strain is sensed
with the help of a metal
foil.
The metals and alloys used
for the foil and wire are
nichrome! constantan (0i 1
2u)! isoelastic (0i 1 2r 1
3o)! nickel and platinum.
4oil gauges have a much
greater dissipation capacity
than wire wound gauges!
on account of their larger
surface area for the same
volume.
4or this reason! they can
be used for a higher
operating temperature
range. "lso! the large
surface area of foil gauges
4oil type strain gauges
/
have similar characteristics
to wire strain gauges. Their
gauge factors are typically
the same.
strain gauges is that they
can be fabricated on! a
large scale! and in any
shape.
5tched foil gauge
construction consists of
first bonding a layer of
strain sensitive material to
a thin sheet of paper or
+akelite.
The portion of the metal to
be used as the wire
element is covered with
material.
This method of
construction enables
etched foil strain gauges to
comparable wire units.

Semi"on#u"tor
strain gauges
6
To have a high sensitivity!
a high value of gauge
factor is desirable.
" high gauge factor
means relatively higher
change in resistance!
which can be easily
measured with a good
degree of accuracy.
emiconductor strain
gauges are used when a
very high gauge factor is
re,uired. They have a
gauge factor /7 times as
high as wire strain gauges.
The resistance of the
semiconductor changes
with change in applied
strain.
emiconductor strain
gauges depend for their
action upon the pie\$o
resistive effect! i.e. change
in value of the resistance
due to change in
resistivity! unlike metallic
gauges where change in
resistance is mainly due to
the change in dimension
when strained.
emiconductor materials
such as germanium and
silicon are used as resistive
materials.
" typical strain gauge
consists of a strain material
and leads that are placed in
a protective box.
emiconductor wafer or
8
filaments which have a
thickness of
7.7/ mm are used. They are
bonded on suitable
insulating substrates! such
as Teflon.
used for making contacts.
A#,antages of
Semi"on#u"tor Strain
Gauge
'. emiconductor strain
gauges have a high gauge
factor.
*. This allows measurement of
very small strains! of the
order of 7.7' micro strains.
-. :ysteresis characteristics
of semiconductor strain
gauges are excellent!
i.e. less than 7.7/;.
.. <ife in excess of '7 x '7
6
operations and a
fre,uency response of
'7
'*
:\$.
/. emiconductor strain
gauges can be very small in
si\$e! ranging in length from
7.8 to 8.7 mm.
-isa#,antages
'. They are very sensitive to
changes in temperature.
=
*. <inearity of semiconductor
strain gauges is poor.
-. They are more expensive.
T*ER
.IST/R
The electrical resistance of
most materials changes
with temperature.
+y selecting materials that
are very temperature
sensitive! devices that are
useful in temperature
control circuits and for
temperature measurements
Thermistor (T:5(3ally
sensitive resIT>() are
non%metallic resistors
(semiconductor material)!
of metallic oxides such as
manganese! nickel! cobalt!
copper and uranium.
Thermistors have a
?
0egative Temperature
2oefficient (0T2)! i.e.
resistance decreases as
temperature rises.
The resistance at room
temperature (*/@2) for
typical commercial units
ranges from '77 to '7
mega ohm.
They are suitable for use
In some cases! the
resistance of Thermistor at
room temperature may
decrease by 5% for each
'@2 rise in temperature.
This high sensitivity to
temperature changes makes
the Thermistor extremely
useful for precision
measurements! control and
compensation.

A#,antages of Thermistor
'. mall si\$e and low cost.
*. 4ast response over narrow
temperature range.
-. 9ood sensitivity in the
0egative Temperature
2oefficient region.
'7
0imitations of Thermistor
'. 0on%linearity in resistance
vs temperature
characteristics.
*. )nsuitable for wide
temperature range.
-. Aery low excitation
current to avoid self%
heating.
.. 0eed of shielded power
lines! filters! etc. due to
high resistance.
0INEAR 1ARIA%0E
-IERENTIA0
TRANS-U2ER &01-T'
The differential transformer
is a passive inductive
transformer.
It is also known as a <inear
Aariable Bifferential
Transformer (<ABT).

''
The the transformer
consists of a single primary
winding P
l
and two
secondary windings S
l
and
S
2
wound on a hollow
cylindrical former.
The secondary windings
have an e,ual number of
turns and are identically
placed on either side of the
primary windings. The
primary winding is
connected to an ac source.
" movable soft iron core
slides within the hollow
former and therefore
affects the magnetic
coupling between the
primary and the two
secondary.
The displacement to be
measured is applied to an
arm attached to the soft
iron core.
In practice! the core is
alloy which is slotted
longitudinally to reduce
eddy current losses.
&hen the core is in its
normal (null) position!
e,ual voltages are induced
in the two secondary
windings.
The fre,uency of the ac
applied to the primary
winding ranges from /7 :\$
to *7 k:\$.
The output voltage of the
primary windings S
1
is E
s1
and that of secondary
winding
*
is E
s2
.
In order to convert the
output from S
l
to S
2
into a
single voltage signal! the
two secondaries S
1
and S
2
are connected in series
opposition! as shown in
4ig.
'*
:ence the output voltage
of the transducer is the
difference of the two
voltages.
Therefore the differential
output voltage 5
o
C E
s1
~
E
s2
.
&hen the core is at its
normal position! the flux
windings is e,ual! and
hence e,ual emfs are
induced in them.
:ence! at null position E
s1
C E
s2
. ince the output
voltage of the transducer is
the difference of the two
voltages! the output voltage
E
o
is \$ero at null position.

A#,antages of 01-T
'. 0inearity .The output
voltage of this transducer
is practically linear for
displacements upto / mm
(a linearity of 7.7/; is
available in commercial
<ABTs).
*. Infinite resolution. The
change in output voltage is
stepless.
The effective resolution
depends more on the test
e,uipment than on the
transducer.
-. *igh output. It gives a
high output (therefore
there is fre,uently no need
for intermediate
amplification devices).
'-
.. *igh sensiti,ity. The
transducer possesses a
sensitivity as high as
.7 A/mm.
/. Rugge#ness. These
transducers can usually
tolerate a high degree of
vibration and shock.
6. 0ess fri"tion. There are no
sliding contacts.
8. 0ow hysteresis. This
transducer has a low
hysteresis hence
repeatability is excellent
under all conditions.
=. 0ow power
"onsumption .3ost
<ABTs consume less than
'& of power.
-isa#,antages
'. <arge displacements are
re,uired for appreciable
differential output.
*. They are sensitive to stray
magnetic fields (but
shielding is possible).
-. The receiving instrument
must be selected to operate
on ac signals! or a
demodulator network must
be used if a dc output is
re,uired.
.. The dynamic response is
limited mechanically by
the mass of the core and
electrically by the applied
voltage.
'.
/. Temperature also affects the
transducer.
Resistan"e
Temperature
-ete"tor &RT-'
(esistance temperature
detector commonly uses
platinum! nickel or any
resistance wire whose
resistance varies with
temperature and which has
a high intrinsic accuracy.
They are available in
many configuration and
si\$esD as shielded or open
units for both immersion
and surface applications.
The relationship between
temperature and resistance
of conductors in the
temperature range near
7@2 can be calculated
using the e,uation
"lmost all metals have a
positive temperature
coefficient (PT2) of
'/
resistance.
o that their resistances
increase with increase in
temperature.
ome materials! such as
2arbon and 9ermanium
have a negative
temperature coefficient
(0T2) of resistance.
" high value of E
temperature coefficient of
resistance E is desired in a
temperature sensing
element! so that sufficient
change in resistance occurs
for a relatively small
change in temperature.
This change in resistance
(() can be measured with
a &heatstoneEs bridge
which can be calibrated to
indicate the temperature
that caused the resistance
change rather than the
resistance itself.
(TBEs are wire%wound
resistance with moderate
resistance and a PT2 of
resistance.
Platinum is the most
widely used resistance
wire type because of its
high stability and large
operating range.
:owever! 0ickel and
2opper are also used in
(TBs.
Platinum (TBs provide
high accuracy and
'6
stability.
They ha,e the following
a#,antages3
'. <inearity over a wide
operating range.
*. &ide operating range
-. :igher temperature
operation
.. +etter stability at high
temperature
-isa#,antages of RT-
'. <ow sensitivity.
*. It can be affected by
contact resistance! shock
and vibration.
-. (e,uires no point sensing.
.. :igher cost than other
temperature transducers.
/. (e,uires - or . wire for its
operation and associated
instrumentation to
resistance.
'8
Therm
o"ouple
>ne of the most commonly
used methods of
measurement of
moderately high
temperature is the
thermocouple effect.
&hen a pair of wires made
up of different metals is
#oined together at one end!
a temperature difference
between the two ends of
the wire produces a
voltage between the two
wires.
Temperature measurement
with Thermocouple is
based on the eebeck ef %
fect.
" current will circulate
around a loop made up of
two dissimilar metals
when the two #unctions are
at different temperatures
'=
&hen this circuit is
opened! a voltage appears
that is proportional to the
observed seebeck current.
There are four voltage
sourcesF their sum is the
observed seebeck voltage.
5ach #unction is a voltage
source! known as Peltier
emf.
4urthermore! each
homogenous conductor has
a self induced voltage or
Thomson emf.
The Thomson and Peltier
emfs originate from the
fact that! within
conductors! the density of
free charge carriers
(electrons and holes)
increases with temperature.
If the temperature of one
end of a conductor is
raised above that of the
other end! excess electrons
from the hot end will
diffuse to the cold end.
This results in an induced
voltage! the Thomson
effect! which makes the
hot end positive with
respect to the cold end.
'?
different materials have
different free%carriers
densities even when at the
same temperature.
&hen two dissimilar
conductors are #oined!
electrons will diffuse
across the #unction from
the conductor with higher
electron density.
&hen this happens the
conductor losing electrons
ac,uire a positive voltage
with respect to the other
conductor. This voltage is
called the Peltier emf.
&hen the #unction is
heated a voltage is
generated! this is known as
seebeck effect.
The seebeck voltage is
linearly proportional for
small changes in
temperature.
Aarious combinations of
metals are used in
ThermocoupleEs.
The magnitude of this
voltage depends on the
material used for the wires
and the amount of
temperature difference
between the #oined ends
and the other ends.
The #unction of the wires
of the thermocouple is
called the sensing #unction.
A#,antages of Thermo"ouple
*7
'. It has rugged construction.
*. It has a temperature range
from %*87 @2%*877 @2.
compensating cables! long
distances transmission for
temperature measurement
is possible.
.. +ridge circuits are not
re,uired for temperature
measurement.
/. 2omparatively cheaper in
cost.
6. 2alibration checks can be
easily performed.
8. Thermocouples offer good
reproducibility.
=. peed of response is high
compared to the filled
system thermometer.
?. 3easurement accuracy is
,uite good.
-isa#,antages of
Thermo"ouple
'. 2old #unction and other
compensation are essential
for accurate measurements.
*. They exhibit non%
linearity in the emf versus
temperature
characteristics.
-. To avoid stray electrical
signal pickup! proper
separation of extension