There is always a high level of excitement when recent technological innovation takes centre stage, especially when it applies to consumer products, transportation, communication, and industrial machines. For example, in transport, aircraft technology has evolved quite significantly. Sophisticated vehicles used for air travel no longer resemble their earlier predecessors. A critical part of what makes these machines advanced are the sensors used in measuring object displacement.
A specific example is a tilt sensor which specifically provides information on the horizontal and vertical inclination of machines or objects. In aeroplanes, tilt sensors help the pilot deal with obstacles present in the air.
Tilt sensor working principle
Like most position sensors, a tilt sensor produces electrical signals concerning the angular movement of an object. Another term used to describe a tilt sensor is an inclinometer. Inclinometers generate both signals and readouts.
A tilt sensor consists of a conductive plate with a rolling ball underneath. When a sensor receives power, the rolling ball moves to the bottom part of the sensor mechanism. A tilt sensor has the following components:
- 470 Ohm resistor
- LED or load
- DC voltage source
When a sensor gets power while it is tilted, the rolling ball does not fall to the bottom; this is so current does not flow over to the two ends of the sensor’s terminals.
Types of tilt sensors
Like other position sensors, tilt sensors also come in different categories. Each kind of tilt sensor consists of different mechanisms for measuring tilt, slope, elevation, and inclination.
- Force balance sensor. A force balance sensor is gravity referenced and is common for measuring movement in ships, vehicles, aircraft, and seismic events. The benefits of using force balance sensors include increased accuracy, temperature resistance, and range of measurement.
- Fluid-filled transducers. These types of sensors are either capacitive or electrolytic. An electrolytic sensor measures angle expressed in arc minutes, arc seconds, or degrees. On the other hand, capacitive tilt sensors are non-contact sensors design to measure tilt and inclination.
Selecting a sensor also depends on specific parameters. These parameters determine the suitability of a sensor to an application. Characteristics that define tilt sensors include the number of axes, resolution, measurement range, sensitivity, noise tolerance, output, and vibration.
- The number of axes. It is an essential factor that determines how a sensor is applied. A specific example is using tilt sensors in robotics. This application requires two axes, while in game consoles, three axes are needed.
- The resolution of a sensor refers to minimum inclination it can detect.
- Measurement range. The range of measurement differs from one sensor to another. Some can measure up to 10° while there are sensors that cover a range of up to 60°.
- Noise tolerance. Noise can cause distortions in the sensor functioning. Different manufacturers specify guidelines on adherence to noise interference.
- The accuracy and reliability of a sensor can change because of vibration that happens when a sensor functions in harsh conditions. As much as possible, the sensor should be resistant to vibration to perform well in extreme scenarios.
Tilt sensors, along with other position sensors remain an essential building block of machines used today. Constant innovation in sensing technology aims to address challenges in accuracy and robustness to further increase the versatility of sensors.
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