QNET Mechatronic Sensors Trainer

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Introduce Students to Sensors and Their Applications

The QNET Mechatronic Sensors board is ideally suited to teach and demonstrate the fundamentals of interfacing with mechatronic sensors. Developed exclusively for NI ELVIS platform and LabVIEW™ software, the system introduces students to a wide variety of sensors commonly used today, including pressure, flex, infrared, visible light, magnetism and temperature sensors; and techniques and limitations of their practical applications. Students learn the fundamentals of interfacing with mechatronic sensors, including how to:

  • collect data from sensors
  • calibrate sensors
  • use sensors to identify natural frequency of material

How It Works

The QNET Mechatronic Sensors board consists of 14 different types of sensors:

  • The strain gage is mounted on the flexible link and outputs a voltage relative to the amount of deflection.
  • The piezo is a flexible component that includes a piezoelectric polymer film laminated to a polyester substrate. The laminated strip contains an added mass at the end.
  • The pressure transducer outputs a voltage based on the pressure applied.
  • The potentiometer knobs on the trainer board represent the gain and offset components of the thermistor circuit, changing the input offset voltage and the amplifier gain.
  • The sonar range finder device on the trainer can detect objects in the range of 0-254 inches.
  • The infrared distance measuring unit uses a triangulation method to detect the distance of an object. It outputs a voltage that correlates to the distance of the target.
  • The linear magnetic field tranducer outputs a voltage that is proportional to the magnetic field applied perpendicularly to the object being measured. The relationship between the output voltage and the target distance is exponential.
  • The optical position sensor consists of an infrared emitting diode and a silicon phototransistor, both mounted side by side.
  • The rotary potentiometer outputs a voltage that varies linearly with the angle being measured.
  • The encoder knob is fitted onto a spindle with 9 teeth. As spindle rotates, the teeth go through two optical switches and generate the encoder A and B signals.
  • The analog input line connected to the miniature snap action switch is pulled high when the switch is in open position and goes down to low when pressed down.
  • The push button analog line goes to +5V when the button is pressed down (when the switch is closed).
  • The optical switch is a photo-microsensor that consists of a transmissive and a reflective component. If an object is placed between the components and the reflective sensor does not sense any light, the output goes high. The switch outputs 0 V when no object is detected.
  • The yellow and red light emitting diodes are connected to digital outputs on the NI ELVIS platform. The yellow LED is active high whereas the red LED is active low.

Comprehensive Resources and ABET-aligned Courseware Included

The QNET Mechatronic Sensors board comes with comprehensive digital resources developed by Quanser to enhance teaching controls, saving professors’ time while helping students quickly grasp the capabilities of the trainer, relate the studied control concepts to applications in real world and understand the exercises performed in lab. The resources include:

  • a collection of instructional videos covering experiment setup, curriculum structure, real-life applications and basic operations in LabVIEW
  • ABET-aligned courseware with detailed assessment guidelines
  • setup materials, including Quick Start Guides, User Manual and VIs for the trainer ensure faster, easier setup of the experiment
  • pre-designed VIs help students understand how the theoretical block diagrams relates to the actual implementation
  • additional lecture materials, including Powerpoint slides professors can use to introduce the labs in their lectures
  • additional materials such as Practical Control Guide can help students grasp the fundamental control concepts taught

  • 14 types of sensors:
    • Strain gage
    • Piezo film sensor
    • Rotary potentiometer
    • Pressure sensor
    • Thermistor sensor
    • Long range sensors: sonar and infrared
    • Short range sensors: magnetic field and optical
    • Micro switch
    • Push button
    • Optical switch
    • Encoder
    • Light Emitting Diodes
  • Plug-and-play design for quick and easy lab setup
  • Compact
  • Protective cover to shield the circuitry
  • Comprehensive digital resources and ABET-aligned courseware included
  • Fully compatible with LabVIEW™
  • Fully documented system models and parameters provided for LabVIEW™
Strain gage output voltage  ± 5.0 V
Rotary potentiometer mechanical angle range 300 deg
Potentiometer independent linearity ± 5 %
Infrared sensor distance measuring range 20 – 150 cm
Pressure sensor range 0 – 30 PSI
Pressure sensor sensitivity 0.133 V/PSI
Pressure sensor quantization step 3.0 mV
Sonar object detection   0 – 6.45 m
Sonar opearting measuring range  0.15 – 6.45 m
Sonar resolution 2.54 m
Sonar reading frequency 20 Hz
Piezo film location of mass from edge 1.40 cm
Piezo film sensitivity at resonance 16 V/g
Piezo film 3 dB frequency  40 Hz
Optical position range 0.64 cm

Topics covered in the Quanser-developed courseware:

  • Sensor behavior
  • Calibration
  • Using sensors to identify natural frequency of material
  • Strain gauge to measure deflection
  • Piezo film sensor to measure vibration
  • Rotary potentiometer to measure position
  • Pressure and thermistor sensors
  • Long range sensors: sonar and infrared
  • Short range sensors: magnetic field and optical
  • Micro switch, push button, and optical switch
  • Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
  • Encoders
  • Switch debouncing
The QNET Mechatronic Sensors board can be also used to teach other topics that are not included in the Quanser-developed courseware.

To set up your QNET Mechatronic Sensors experiment, you need NI ELVIS Modular Engineering Education Laboratory Platform.

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