Loadstar Sensors Blog

Short Updates on interesting applications using our sensor solutions.

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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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
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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

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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