visual basic barcode scanner input EXPERIMENTING WITH TILT AND GRAVITY SENSORS in Software

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684 EXPERIMENTING WITH TILT AND GRAVITY SENSORS
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Single-axis
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FIGURE 41.2 a. A single-axis accelerometer; b. A dual-axis accelerometer.
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products. One of their key product lines is accelerometers, and for them they use a patented fabrication process to create a series of near-microscopic mechanical beams. This micro-machining involves etching material out of a substrate. During acceleration, the beam is distended along its length. This distention changes the capacitance in nearby plates. The change in capacitance is correlated as acceleration and deceleration. A thorough discussion of the theory of operation behind the ADXL family of accelerometers is beyond the scope of this chapter, but you can obtain much more on the subject directly from the manufacturer. Check The Analog Devices Website at www.analog.com. In addition to the mechanical portions of the accelerometer, all the basic interface circuitry is part of the device. In fact, looking at one of the ADXL accelerometers you d think it was just an integrated circuit of some kind. Because the basic circuitry is included as part of the accelerometer, only a minimum number of external parts are needed. In the first project that follows, only eight external parts are used, three of which are filtering/bypass capacitors to reduce the effects of electrical noise. The second project uses even fewer external parts.
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Constructing a Single-axis Accelerometer Robotic Sensor
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The single-axis accelerometer outlined here is based on the Analog Devices ADXL150JQC. The 150 combines a micro-machined mechanical accelerometer with onboard amplification electronics. The normal range of the 150 is plus or minus 50 g s (a g is the unit of measure of gravitational pull; one g is equal to the gravitational pull on the surface of the earth). This range is actually too high for most robotic applications, so we ll be scaling it down to about 5 or 10 g s. For reference, one g is the equivalent of a mass traveling at a speed of 32 feet per second, per second. That is, for every second of elapsed time, the speed of the mass increases (or decreases for deceleration) by 32 feet per second. However, note that objects falling to earth eventually reach a terminal velocity due to air friction and do not continue to accelerate.
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CONSTRUCTING A SINGLE-AXIS ACCELEROMETER ROBOTIC SENSOR
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The output signal of the 150 is a voltage. We ll be using the 150 in full DC mode, where the output will swing no less than about 2.5 volts as the sensor detects changes in acceleration. Depending on how you adjust the sensor board, you can get the 150 to deliver close to the full 0- to 5-volt output range. The broader the range of voltage, the more resolution the sensor will provide. At a scaling factor of 5 g s, we ll be able to detect changes in 400 mV per g. With an 8-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) measuring a full 4000mV (4-volt) range, this equates to a resolution of 15.625 mV per step, or roughly 0.06 g s. That s not bad; a 10- or 12-bit ADC will provide even greater resolution. The one gotcha of the ADXL150 is that it is a 14-pin surface-mount component, which makes it more difficult to use in a homebrew circuit. There are a number of techniques you can use to make use of the 150, or most any surface mount part for that matter:
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I Use an IC surface-mount carrier board. Carefully solder the surface-mount component
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onto the carrier board. You can then use the carrier in ordinary breadboards and prototyping boards. Because the leads of the ADXL150 are pre-tinned, you need only hold the part in place for the first tack of the soldering pencil. Repeat for the other leads. Be sure to buy a carrier board that has solder pads appropriately spaced for the 150. Most IC carrier boards are made for thinner packages; the ADXL150 is in a fat ceramic package and is wider than most ICs. I Solder a short length of 30 AWG wire-wrap wire to each of the 150 s leads. This is delicate work and requires expert soldering and a good eye (it was the technique I used for the prototype). I Design and etch your own surface-mount board, custom-made for the ADXL150. I Purchase the ADXL150 Evaluation Board, available directly from Analog Devices as well as several online and catalog merchants. This is perhaps the easiest method.
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