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Loadstar Sensors Blog

Short Updates on interesting applications using our sensor solutions.

DS-3000U Pro - Touch Screen Display for Digital Load Cells and USB Load Cell Interfaces

DS-3000U Pro - Touch Screen Display for Digital Load Cells and USB Load Cell Interfaces

Loadstar Sensors offers a variety of digital load cells, weight sensors or weight scales with USB or Wireless output.  The iLoad Series and the iLoad Series offer direct USB Output through out S2U UART to USB miniB to USB A adapters.  The DI-100U/DI-1000U USB Load Cell Interfaces can be mated to any of our resistive load cells to obtain calibrated USB output. 

Although any Windows Tablet (e.g. Surface 3, Surface 4 or Surface Pro) or All-In-One PC can be used as a very effective and rich display with a GUI environment using our LV-1000/LV-4000/SensorVUE/ControlVUE software, a number of customers have asked us for a simple, dedicated Touch Screen LCD display for use in factory and laboratory settings where use of PCs may not be appropriate.

In order to meet our customer requests, we have developed a display solution - the DS-3000 Pro - using a Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) controller and Touch Screen display as shown below. Our solution comes ready to use out of the box, all you need is to plug in the sensor and power our display using the provided power supply.

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Troubleshooting a DI-1000HS-10K Impact Sensor Interface

If you are getting inaccurate or noisy readings from a DI-1000HS-10K interface, follow the steps outline below to troubleshoot. You will also need a voltmeter.

  1. Disconnect only the green and white wires (SIG+ and SIG-) from the terminal block. Leave all the other wires (red, black, shield etc connected)
    DI-1000HS-10K troubleshooting
  2. Power the unit using the power adapter. This actually powers the internal signal conditioner
  3. Disconnect the USB cable.
  4. Remove any load from the load cell. If you have any metal plates mounted on the load cell, please remove them as well.
  5. Please check to make sure that all the connections are tight.
  6. Now check the voltage between the red and black wires (pins 1 and 2) using the voltmeter. Red +ve, black -ve. Use DC Volts setting. You should be able to just touch the heads of the screws (EXC+ and EXC-) to read the voltage. You should read about 5 V DC. This indicates that we are supplying the right power to the load cell.
  7. Now check the voltage between the (disconnected) green and white wires.  Green +ve, white -ve. Use DC millivolt settings if you have them. You should read about 0 (zero) or 1 mvolt. This is the output of the load cell at no load and a reading of zero indicates that the load cell is balanced. If you apply some load at this point, you will see the mVolt reading going up. This means the load cell is probably not at fault.
  8. If you do get a high voltage (even 5 or 10 mV) when the load cell is not loaded,  it is very likely that the load cell is damaged.
  9. If you suspect this may be the case, it is probably a good idea to double check by:
    • Complete disconnect all the load cell wires from the terminal block. Power the load cell with a 9V battery - red +ve, black -ve.
      DI-1000HS-10K troubleshooting
    • Then check the voltage between green and white wires at zero load.

 

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Erratic mouse behavior when connecting battery powered DI-1000 units

When using battery powered (or externally powered) interfaces (like DI-1000 or DQ-4000), sometimes you may notice that the mouse pointer jumps around erratically all over the screen. This is due to the fact that the interface may already be streaming data and Windows incorrectly identifies the device as a Microsoft Serial Ballpoint mouse.

This can be fixed by changing the Windows registry as follows:

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Loadstar Sensors Software require Microsoft .NET Frameworks

All Windows versions of Loadstar Sensors software require Microsoft .NET Framework v 4.0 or later installed on your computer.

Some components of the software also require .NET Framework v 3.5 installed. This is because v 4.0 framework "does not automatically use its version of the common language runtime to run applications that are built with earlier versions of the .NET Framework".

Framework v.4 is preinstalled in most versions of Windows beginning with Windows 8. Framework v 3.5 is pre-installed in most versions of Windows 7

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Monitoring plant growth and irrigation needs in a nursery using digital weight sensors

Monitoring plant growth and irrigation needs in a nursery using digital weight sensors

Drought conditions in California has led to steep increases in cost of water for agricultural use this year.  Vegetable and fruit growers as well as nurseries are paying close attention to the amount of water they use for irrigation purposes.  

Farmers typically use sprayers to spray water onto plants at regular intervals.  However, this method leads to uniform spraying across a wide area.  Some plants may be getting more water and some less due to non-uniform distribution of the sprays.  Furthermore, since it is based purely on time, even when rainfall has taken place on some days, the water is still sprayed.

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Sampling of Loadstar Sensors Customers by Segment

 

Aerospace

Automotive

Medical

National Labs

Technology

Universities

 NASA Toyota   Stryker  US Army  Google  Harvard
 Boeing  BMW Merck  General Atomics  Apple  Stanford 
 Zodiac Aerospace Honda  BD  General Dynamics   Nokia  MIT
 JPL Tesla  Medtronic   Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory RIM  Purdue University 
B/E Aerospace   Mitsubishi Motors  Beckman Coulter Pacific Northwest National Laboratory  Synaptics  Caltech California Institute of Technology 1891 

 

 

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Measuring thrust forces exerted by quadcopter rotors

Measuring thrust forces exerted by quadcopter rotors

Are you a drone or quadcopter enthusiast?  Trying to build your own kick-ass quadcopter that will soar high and move fast?  Then you need to really understand the thrust characteristics of your motors and make sure it can generate enough thrust to provide sufficient lift and forward movement.  

Jim Grubb, the VP of Emerging Technologies Marketing and Chief Demonstration Officer at Cisco Systems is one such enthusiast, who uses our iLoad TR USB load cell system to characterize the thrust applied by the motors and uses the iLoad Mini load cells to measure the weight and balance of the quadcopter to make sure it is properly balanced so the motors do not have to do extra work to rectify the imbalance resulting in reduced fuel efficiency.

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Troubleshooting connectivity issues with Loadstar Sensors sensors or interfaces

On rare occasions, we get tech support calls from users whose computers have trouble detecting a sensor or interface. The steps below outline what you can do to troubleshoot the issue.

Check Device Manager

First make sure the load cell or interface shows up in the device manager. All our devices use an FTDI device driver to convert serial port signals to a USB virtual COM port. This virtual COM port will appear in the device manager as an "USB Serial Port" device under the "Ports" section. To launch the device manager,

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Digital Tank Weighing Solution

Tank Solution

Tank Weighing Solution using iWeigh Scales with USB or WiFi Output

Many applications require different amounts of liquids and solids to be mixed into a mixing tank.  In such cases, one needs to weight the contents of the tank accurately and display, log and sometimes plot this information on a PC for quality control purposes.


Our iWeigh scales are perfect for such applications!  They come as 8" x 8" weigh modules with a load cell attached between them and a USB or Wireless Load Cell Interface like our DI-1000U or DI-1000WiFi attached to the load cells and calibrated together in compression mode.  The RAL1, RSB6, RAP3, RAP4, RSP1, and RAPG load cells can all be used to make the weigh module, depending on the specifications of the application (weight, accuracy, temperature conditions etc.). 


The tanks usually have three to four or sometimes larger number of legs with rectangular plates as feet.  The digital scales can be placed underneath each leg of the tank and can be secured with four bolts on each leg.


The four sets of load cells + interfaces with USB output, can then connected to a HX-400 USB hub. After connecting the USB hub to a Mac/PC, Loadstar Sensor's ControlVUE software allows the user to display, log and plot individual weights as well as the total weight of the tank.


The ControlVUE software has a special feature where one can connect a USB Relay (1/2/8 Channels) to control external devices such as a valve, motor, switch or other electrical apparatus as well as outputs such as alarms and speakers to be set off at specified values from the sensors.


This solution provides a simple, elegant digital solution for a very affordable price and makes it easy to display, log and plot tank weights. 

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Load Cells with USB, UART, & Analog 0-5V Output shown in various configurations

Load Cells with USB, UART, & Analog 0-5V Output shown in various configurations

The iLoad Pro load cell is one of the family of load cells that use capacitive measurement techniques to measure forces or loads.  Unlike traditional strain gauge load cells, these capacitive load cells do not use resistive strain gauges that are bonded to a metal member.  Instead it uses two capacitive plates separated by a gap as the sensing element.  When the load/force is applied, this gap changes changing the capacitance.  This change is measured and transmitted as a digital signal directly from within the sensor and can be in the UART or USB format.  In addition, an analog voltage (0-5 V DC) can also be output as an option simultaneously making it easy to use for a wide variety of application!  

 

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