Resistance-Type Transducers

Included in this category of transducers are strain gauges and moving contacts (slide wire variable resistors). Figure 3 illustrates a simple strain gauge. A strain gauge measures the external force (pressure) applied to a fine wire. The fine wire is usually arranged in the form of a grid. The pressure change causes a resistance change due to the distortion of the wire. The value of the pressure can be found by measuring the change in resistance of the wire grid. Equation 2-1 shows the pressure to resistance relationship.



R = resistance of the wire grid in ohms
K = resistivity constant for the particular type of wire grid
L = length of wire grid
A = cross sectional area of wire grid

As the wire grid is distorted by elastic deformation, its length is increased, and its cross-sectional area decreases. These changes cause an increase in the resistance of the wire of the strain gauge. This change in resistance is used as the variable resistance in a bridge circuit that provides an lectrical signal for indication of pressure. Figure 4 illustrates a strain gauge pressure transducer.

An increase in pressure at the inlet of the bellows causes the bellows to expand. The expansion of the bellows moves a flexible beam to which a strain gauge has been attached. The movement of the beam causes the resistance of the strain gauge to change. The temperature compensating gauge compensates for the heat produced by current flowing through the fine wire of the strain gauge. Strain gauges, which are nothing more than resistors, are used with bridge circuits as shown in Figure 5.

Alternating current is provided by an exciter that is used in place of a battery to eliminate the need for a galvanometer. When a change in resistance in the strain gauge causes an unbalanced condition, an error signal enters the amplifier and actuates the balancing motor. The balancing motor moves the slider along the slide wire, restoring the bridge to a balanced condition. The slider’s position is noted on a scale marked in units of pressure.

Other resistance-type transducers combine a bellows or a bourdon tube with a variable resistor, as shown in Figure 6. As pressure changes, the bellows will either expand or contract. This expansion and contraction causes the attached slider to move along the slidewire, increasing or decreasing the resistance, and thereby indicating an increase or decrease in pressure.

The inductance-type transducer consists of three parts: a coil, a movable magnetic core, and a pressure sensing element. The element is attached to the core, and, as pressure varies, the element causes the core to move inside the coil. An AC voltage is applied to the coil, and, as the core moves, the inductance of the coil changes. The current through the coil will increase as the inductance decreases. For increased sensitivity, the coil can be separated into two coils by utilizing a center tap, as shown in Figure 7. As the core moves within the coils, the inductance of one coil will increase, while the other will decrease.

Another type of inductance transducer, illustrated in Figure 8, utilizes two coils wound on a single tube and is commonly referred to as a Differential Transformer.

The primary coil is wound around the center of the tube. The secondary coil is divided with one half wound around each end of the tube. Each end is wound in the opposite direction, which causes the voltages induced to oppose one another. A core, positioned by a pressure element, is movable within the tube. When the core is in the lower position, the lower half of the secondary coil provides the output. When the core is in the upper position, the upper half of the secondary coil provides the output. The magnitude and direction of the output depends on the amount the core is displaced from its center position. When the core is in the mid-position, there is no secondary output.

Capacitive-Type Transducers

Capacitive-type transducers, illustrated in Figure 9, consist of two flexible conductive plates and a dielectric. In this case, the dielectric is the fluid.

As pressure increases, the flexible conductive plates will move farther apart, changing the capacitance of the transducer. This change in capacitance is measurable and is proportional to the change in pressure

Detection Circuitry

Figure 10 shows a block diagram of a typical pressure detection circuit.

The sensing element senses the pressure of the monitored system and converts the pressure to a mechanical signal. The sensing element supplies the mechanical signal to a transducer, as discussed above. The transducer converts the mechanical signal to an electrical signal that is proportional to system pressure. If the mechanical signal from the sensing element is used directly, a transducer is not required and therefore not used. The detector circuitry will amplify and/or transmit this signal to the pressure indicator. The electrical signal generated by the detection circuitry is proportional to system pressure. The exact operation of detector circuitry depends upon the type of transducer used. The pressure indicator provides remote indication of the system pressure being measured.


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