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MAE 311 - 03 LAB


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The purpose of the experiment was to calibrate different measurement devices and
determine their uncertainty. Pressure, temperature and strain were measured using a dead weight
pressure tester and pressure transducer, thermocouples, digital strain indicator and load cell,
respectively. A familiarity with the calibration of these instruments was the main objective of the
Calibration of instruments is a vital aspect of recording accurate data. Measurement
instruments and sensors are used to evaluate and judge the data according to a measured
standard. However, a device cannot be used to establish an accurate measurement without being
properly calibrated to reflect the standard that it represents. This lab experiment offers an
appropriate examination of the techniques required to calibrate instruments which convert a
certain medium into another medium, known as transducers. A transducer is a device that
converts the input energy of one form into the output energy of another form. All of the
transducers calibrated within this experiment convert the medium that they are exposed to into an
electrical signal, allowing for this information to be recorded and analyzed with the purpose of
calibration in mind. The calibration of the transducer is simply adjusting the scale of the
transducer for conversion of the output of the transducer in terms of the quantity being measured.
In the first experiment, a thermocouple was calibrated to the standard of a given
thermometer based on the manufacturers
or 0.75% range. After completion of this portion of the lab, this was assertion was
verified. A load cell converts force into an electrical signal. The load cell contains a strain gage
which changes resistance as it becomes stressed. Through use of the load cell, the voltage
generated by the deformation of the instrument using the strain indicator could be measured and
recorded. These values allowed us to calibrate the readings immediately and also observe the
linear behavior of the sensors. The pressure sensor utilized in the third and final experiment was
used to measure hydraulic pressure in a cylinder. The pressure could be raised or lowered by
applying weight to a piston in the cylinder. The pressure sensor output a voltage that
corresponded to the psi of the hydraulic fluid. Two passes of pressure data were acquired and
were found to have uncertainty values between .359 and 1.31psi Volts. Given that the max
pressure is 300psi this is a minor uncertainty.

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Based on these three points and the accuracy of the two devices, is it possible to discern any
bias in the thermocouple, or are both readings within the uncertainty interval?
The observation that can be made by looking at the thermocouple and thermometer temperatures
at three different temperature-mediums (Table 1) is that the thermocouple is fairly accurate in
establishing the standard, known temperature. The values of the thermocouple do not deviate
greatly from the values found by the thermometer recording (taken at a steady-state), though it
can be noted that the greatest amount of difference in values was found in the boiling water. It
could be assumed that the thermocouple, which produces its own form of heat due to converting
heat energy to electrical energy, would cause the readings to be slightly higher due to its
construction. Additionally, the value found in the ice-water could be a result of the thermocouple
not having enough time to reach a steady temperature before being exposed to the ice bath.

Table 1: Temperature Measurements
Is the mean thermocouple temperature within the uncertainty limits given by the
manufacturer when placed in the ice-water bath and the boiling water? If possible,
manually determine a correction factor?
Table 2 shows the comparison between the values found in Table 1 as a means to test the
uncertainty limit given by the manufacturer. These values do fall within the uncertainty limit for
the ice and boiling water. A correction factor is established between the thermometer values and
the thermocouple values in an attempt to calibrate the thermocouple values and attempt to create
more accurate values. These values are represented in Table 3 and further reinforce that the
manufacturers claim for the thermometer tolerance is applicable to the thermocouple values.

Table 2: Establishing Temperature Correction Factor

Room Temp. (C) Boiling Water (C) Ice Water (C)
Thermocouple Thermometer Thermocouple Thermometer Thermocouple Thermometer
Average 26.14 25.0 100.99 100.0 2.18 1.0
Std Dev 0.26 - 0.35 - 0.21 -
Room Temp.
Boiling Water
Ice Water

Thermocouple 26.14 100.99 2.18
Thermometer 25.0 100.0 1.0 Correction Factor (Avg T)
T 1.14 0.99 1.18 1.10
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Room Temp. (C)
Thermocouple 26.14
Thermometer 25.0+1.10 = 26.10
T 0.04

Table 3: Application of Temperature Correction Factor
As seen in the table, the corrected thermometer temperature is very close to the thermocouple
temperature. All of the thermocouple readings are within the range of the manufacturers
Load Cell
Weight Un-Calibrated Strain Reading () Calibrated Strain Reading ()
0 -300 0
0.5 -200 50
1.0 0 100
1.5 100 150
2.0 200 200
2.5 300 250
3.0 400 300
3.5 500 350
4.0 600 400
4.5 700 450
5.0 800 500

Table 2: Load Cell Measurements

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Figure 1 Graph of Load Cell Calibration Analysis

The pre-determination of the weights applied to the strain load cell served as a standard
of accuracy that could be used to calibrate the strain-indicator. Having an understanding of the
linear relationship generated when using a weight transducer could also allow for some
estimation to take place in the event that a load cell reaches a weight capacity when increasing in
increments. This linearity can also be used with confidence due to the simple nature of the
equation, allowing for a strong sense of certainty that the instrument taking measurements is
giving an accurate reading of the tension or compression caused within the load cell.
The data gathered from the pressure experiment is listed in Table 3 below.
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Table 2: Voltage measurements

Figure 2 Known Psi vs Voltage
There was a correlation between psi and Voltage outlined in the equation in Figure 2. The
relationship is mostly linear. Using the equation

the standard deviation

of our measurements can be changed to an uncertainty in psi with a 95% confidence level. The
largest deviation is .011V which converts to an uncertainty of 1.31 Psi, but as table 2 shows,
most uncertainties lie within the expected value of .81Psi given in the text.
Psi UP V UP Stdev Uncertainty PSI 95%
0 0.009 0.003 0.359424
5 0.092 0.003 0.359424
25 0.425 0.003 0.359424
45 0.759 0.003 0.359424
65 1.095 0.004 0.479232
85 1.428 0.004 0.479232
105 1.76 0.005 0.59904
145 2.428 0.006 0.718848
295 4.931 0.011 1.317888
Psi Down V Down Stdev
145 2.428 0.006 0.718848
105 1.761 0.005 0.59904
85 1.428 0.004 0.479232
65 1.094 0.004 0.479232
45 0.76 0.003 0.359424
25 0.427 0.004 0.479232
5 0.091 0.003 0.359424
0 0 0 0
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How do the values of precision error compare to the theoretical measurement uncertainty
calculated with equation 1.4?
The measured error is slightly lower than the theoretical for most measurements. Only one
yielded a higher number.
Explain the significance of each component of the total uncertainty. Your textbook and
class notes are great resources for this information.
The components that affect the theoretical value for uncertainty are Accuracy, Calibration, and
Resolution. Accuracy is the measure of how close the instrument is to the actual value.
Calibration is how well the instrument is adjusted to eliminate known biases. Resolution
determines how large a change needs to be before the instrument in question sees it.
The application of calibration was illustrated over the course of three different
experiments using three different types of transducers. The pressure transducer, which converts
applied pressure to voltage, required a dead-weight tester as a medium to generate a signal.
Using predetermined amounts of weight, a standard was established to calibrate the amount of
psi-to-voltage being measured and the equivalent amount of psi-to-voltage that should be
expected from a calibrated instrument. The values calculated strongly resemble the amount of the
known psi values originally established, though a total uncertainty value between .359 and
1.31psi was observed in the experiment. The load cell, which is a force transducer, was used to
create an electrical signal through the application of known weights. This was originally done
without calibrating the digital-strain gauge it interfaced with. However, using these un-calibrated
values and the amount that was expected to be read, the strain-indicator could be calibrated to
produce accurate weight measurements. Lastly, a comparison was made between a
thermocouple, which qualifies as a heat transducer, and a thermometer. Using the thermometer at
a steady state for four different mediums, the manufacturing tolerance of the thermocouple was
determined to be true. This verification came from the comparison of the difference in
thermometer values and the corrected values found from the thermocouple measurements which