Loadstar Sensors Blog

Short Updates on interesting applications using our sensor solutions.

StockVUE Mobile for your Inventory on Wheels


Autonomous, real-time, remote, inventory management using digital smart scales

Track your inventory on wheels using StockVUE Mobile IOT solution. No more losing track of your inventory that is not sitting on shelves and racks. Get remote visibility into your inventory wherever it is - even at points of use.

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StockVUE - an IoT Solution that Makes Inventory Count Itself


Customers want what they want and they want it NOW. In this era of hyper competition, having the right product, in the right quantity, at the right place can mean the difference between survival or extinction for businesses. Inventory Management is the key to satisfy customer demands. Retailers, distributors, and manufacturers are looking for better solutions to manage their inventory.

Even though businesses have sophisticated ERP software, the actual counting and data entry is done by human beings, periodically, in a labor intensive and slow process. As a result the data is not current and is prone to errors. This leads to over or under stocking of items. Under stocking leads to stockouts, shortages, delays, and lost revenue. Over stocking results in space shortages, increased carrying cost, and lower profits.

Loadstar Sensors’ StockVUE addresses these issues head on with an IoT solution based on digital smart-scales, wireless routers and Cloud technology. Smart-scales compute inventory counts based on weight and transmit the data to the StockVUE Cloud using wireless sensor routers. Data analytics, machine language, and artificial intelligence is used to identify items that need to be replenished before a stockout occurs. Real-time inventory counts can be accessed anytime, from anywhere on any device without human intervention.

The StockVUE solution is modular, versatile and flexible. It can be used with any type of rack and shelf system and with pallets placed on the floor. You can even continue to use pre-existing rack and shelf configurations. StockVUE can be used to track discrete items, bulk goods, powders, liquids in tanks, and gases in cylinders. Whereas RFID can only be used to track items that are discrete and have a certain minimum size, StockVUE can track bulk low cost, low value items too. It can track items that weigh just a few ounces to items that weigh hundreds of pounds.

By using weight as the key parameter to track items, StockVUE applies a very simple approach to deliver a powerful IoT Solution that offers:

- Remote Visibility at Remote Locations
- Real-Time Updates
- Accessibility at anytime, anywhere, on any device
- Autonomous operation with minimal human intervention
- Generation and transmission of alerts to designated people
- Automatic report and order generation

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How to add High/Low lines to graphs





You can add High/Low lines to graph by using the Formula Sensors Features of the Loadvue Software family.

Click on Sensors...Formula Sensors...



Then add a formula sensor with a constant value. For example, if upper limit is 20 lb,

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Inventory that Counts Itself!

StockVUE - IoT for Inventory Management

 

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1123 Hits

Mouse or Touchpad Problems when a sensor is connected to a PC via USB

Sometimes when you plug in a USB or wireless sensor in to your PC, the mouse seems to go crazy! it will start moving around and open up various menu options etc.

This might be happening because the sensor's output is being mistaken to be a mouse input by the PC.

In order to fix this problem, disconnect the sensor(s) from the PC. The problem should go away. Then you'll need to edit the Windows Registry. 

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


USB Load Cell Display
Digital Touch Screen Display for USB Load Cells

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

DI-1000HS-10K troubleshooting
DI-1000HS-10K troubleshooting

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)

  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.

    • 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

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

Loadstar Sensors Customer Logos

Loadstar Sensors clients come from all over the world. Check out a few of them here!

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4830 Hits

Measuring thrust forces exerted by quadcopter rotors

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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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7577 Hits

Troubleshooting connectivity issues with Loadstar Sensors sensors or interfaces

Device Manager
Old Style Dongle
S2U Dongle
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Putty Serial Port Configuration-2
Putty terminal screen

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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3876 Hits

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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2160 Hits

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

iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell Top View
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell Side View
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell Bottom View
iLoad Pro/TR Capacitive Load Cell Connected to PC/Mac and Tablet
LoadVUE Log Data
LoadVUE Log Data
LoadVUE Share Data
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell to HX-100 Hybrid (Analog and Digital) Output to Microcontroller
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell to HX-100 Hybrid (Analog and Digital) Output to Voltmeter to Windows PC/Tablet
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell to HX-400 USB Output to Windows PC/Tablet
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Load Button
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Inline Adaptor
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Eye Bolt
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Inline Adaptor and Eye Bolts
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Rod End
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Inline Adaptor and Rod Ends
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Foot Pedal
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Leveling Foot
iLoad Pro Capacitive Load Cell with Caster Wheel

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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Unobtrusive Patient Monitoring System using Digital USB Load Cells

iLoad USB Load Cell
Four USB Load Cell Kit

When researchers Stephen J. Spikings, Bashir M. Al-Hashimi, and Nick R. Harris of the University of Southhampton in England wanted to monitor the well-being of a person on a bed based on measuring their weight, they turned to Loadstar Sensors' Digital USB Load Cells for its low profile, low cost and ease of use. 

The iLoad Load Cells look like round hockey pucks about 3 inches in diameter and half an inch high, these capacitive load cells have integrated electronics housed inside the package and offer direct USB connectivity directly from load cell without need for any external signal conditioning electronics.  Put one under each corner of the bed under the foot and plug the four units into a USB Hub and then into the PC.  Using LoadVUE Pro LV-4000 software, one can gather data at up to 500 Hz data update rate.

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Body Weight Sensor for Health Kiosk

Single Point Load Cell with USB Output
Four load cell kit with USB Output
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Four USB Load Cell kit for Kiosks

A leading health kiosk player wanted to add the ability to measure body weight to its kiosk.  The kiosk utilized an open source PC server running Linux with custom software and wanted a easy way to talk to a weight sensor via USB.  

Loadstar Sensor's RAP3/RAP4 load cells with the DI-100U 16-bit USB Load Cell Interface turned out to be the perfect solution for this need.  With a capacity of 550 lbs, it has enough range to measure the most obese person on earth with accuracy of about +/- 0.25 lbs or better.  The DI-100U USB Load Cell Interface includes easy to use ASCII command set that provides two simple ASCII commands for "Tare" and "Read" functions using which a software engineer can quickly incorporate weight readings into his/her software in minutes!  No need to understand analog electronics, amplification of signals, digitization of signals, calibration or other arcane details!  With just two commands, one can get calibrated readings into ones application!

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Measuring forces and torques acting on artificial hip due to friction between joints

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Digital Pressure Measurement Solution to build a Ski Characterization Tool

iLoad Mini Load Cell Kit with USB Output
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Cross country racing skis are usually hand built, which can lead to significant variations between individual skis even within the same model. These variations can have a huge impact on performance, so the ability to identify which skis have the highest quality and best characteristics is vital for high level athletes and technicians when selecting skis. Traditionally, this ski picking process has been done by hand, generally relying on human aptitude and judgment, that requires years of practice to truly master.  

Gear West's top ski fitters felt there must be a better way - one that was quantifiable, repeatable, and which could easily be taught to employees and discerning customers. They wanted to investigate the pressure distribution characteristics of cross country racing skis and quantify and characterize what made a ski good or bad.  To do this, needed an easy to use force or pressure sensor that could help them collect accurate and precise data.  For this they turned to Loadstar Sensors' iLoad Mini miniature load cell kits.

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Digital load cells used for measuring thrust forces acting on Hovercraft

S-Beam USB Load Cell Kit
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Michael Mercier has been crazy about hovercrafts since he was a little boy.  Protoytping and building model after model of increasing sophistication from high school through college he refined his knowledge and skills for over a decade.  Finally as a young man, he decided to convert his passion into a profession by deciding to start a company to produce a commercially viable hovercraft that could run on water as well as on the streets!

When he needed to measure the thrust generated by his revolutionary new propulsion system and the forces acting on a hovercraft, he reached out to Loadstar Sensors which provides revolutionary digital force measurement products that can be used to capture force information easily on a PC.  The S-Beam USB Load Cell Kit he selected came with all the items needed to quickly be up and running - including the RAS1 S-Beam Load cell, matching eye bolts to fasten the load cell to the test rigs, the 24-bit DI-1000U USB Load Cell Interface and the LV-1000 LoadVUE Pro software.

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Using USB Load Cells to measure lift and drag forces acting on WingSuits

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Since the dawn of time, man has observed birds that can take off at will and fly through the sky with effortless ease and dreamed of doing the same.  Although over the last hundred years, man has invented and built amazing flying machines, nothing until now has come close to doing so without being confined inside a metal cocoon that we call an aircraft.  Wingsuit flying is the closest one comes to the "dream of flight" where one can fly without any powered engines or cabins.  Experienced skydivers don colorful fabric suits with “wings” between their arms and legs and leap from aircraft or high cliffs and glide through the air.

When flown by an expert pilot this type of wingsuit can fly over 3 feet forward for every one foot of downward travel, this is called a “3 to 1 glide ratio”. This is a thrilling and amazing sport but the professional aerodynamicists and undergraduate researchers in Team Eagle Wingsuit at Embry Riddle University, believe that wingsuit performance can be greatly improved and can achieve glide ratios of 6:1.

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Spring Testing to Make Trampolines Safer

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A leading manufacturer of Trampolines for sports and fitness applications wanted to test the strength and longevity of the springs used to build the trampolines.  They turned to Loadstar Sensors' iLoad Mini Load Cells to test the Force vs. Deflection characteristic of the springs.  In addition they needed to see how well the springs held up after millions of cycles of load applied to them.  

So they built a testing machine that applied a tension and compression cycle every few seconds and applied this load to their springs in series with our iLoad Mini load cell.  The results they got from the test helped them refine the design and ensure that their product would be a quality product that protected the safety of its users and also lasted for many millions of cycles of use with minimal sagging.

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1764 Hits

Boxing Training Tool - Measure Punch Forces and Number of Punches

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Boxers who want to be at the top of their game, wanted a tool to help them track how many punches they can throw in a minute, how hard the punches are, how long they can sustain the number and intensity of the punches and track the progress they made from session to session or week to week.

In order to provide such a tool, we developed our Punch Force Sensor solution with USB output.  The first image shows the punching area with a All-in-One PC above it.  The sensor is connected to a high speed load cell Interface via USB shown in the second image.  The last image shows the software screen that displays the intensity of the punch as well as the number of punches thrown in a session. 

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3615 Hits

Loadstar Sensors genuinely committed to helping customers

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1974 Hits

Excellent quality and great customer service!

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2145 Hits

Loadstar Sensors' service is outstanding.

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USB Force Sensor helps to train volunteers to do CPR

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At least one in ten of us, in our lifetime, will see a family member, friend, or acquaintance have a cardiac arrest.  If the victim of a cardiac arrest or stroke has to wait for the Ambulance to show up and a paramedic to start CPR, the outlook for surviving the attach and full recovery is bleak.  Fewer than 10% of the victims of a cardiac arrest will get out of the hospital with brain functions intact and about 14% of the survivors will have significant neurological problems.

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Pancake Load Cells to Test Aircraft Wings, Flaps & Landing Gear

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An innovative aircraft startup company trying to build a long range passenger jet with several times the range of currently available jets used our RAL1 Pancake Load Cells with USB Output to perform performance and strength testing of the wing and flaps as well as get a profile of the weight distribution of the wing during manufacture.  The USB Output from the load cells make it easy to gather data into a single file and monitor the Force vs. Time performance in real time on a PC.

                              

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NASA uses our S-Beam Load Cells with USB Output to Test Forces on a Parachute

Parachutes bring Orion Capsule Down Safely during Test

NASA Ames Research center used two of our RAS1 S-Beam Load Cells and one RES2 S-Beam Jr. Load Cell with matching DI-1000U 24-bit USB Load Cell Interfaces and our LV-4000 software to measure the forces acting on a parachute during a test conducted in the giant wind tunnel facility.

The  solution provides a fully calibrated and accurate system which can be used to measure both tension and compression forces in real time.  The software allows the user to display the data in various units, log the data to a comma separated file as well as plot the data as a Force vs. Time plot in real time.

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Measuring the Recoil Force from a Gun

 Dr. Mattew Hall, a faculty member in the Thermal/Fluids Systems program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas, used one of the early versions of our analog load cell with a 0-5 VDC output to  measure the recoil force from a variety of guns.  The lower the recoil force, the easier it is to handle the gun and the smaller the impact on the shoulder or wrists of a user.  

You can now use our iLoad Series Analog load cells for this purpose.  The advantage of using the iLoad, iLoad Pro Analog load cell or the iLoad Mini + DQ-1000A Analog Load Cell Solution  is that you get a 0.5 to 4.5 VDC output proportional to the applied force/load.  You do not need a signal conditioner/amplifier to measure the loads with your Data Acquisition System.  Most DAQs accept a 0-5 VDC input on their Analog Input channels.

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5581 Hits