What’s all that IEPE, CCP stuff mean?

The output of the crystal is a charge, which requires a specialised charge amplifier, with extremely high input impedance, in order to drive our measuring system. These used to be separate boxes, with specialised low-noise cabling, but nowadays, the charge amplifier is built into the accelerometer itself, and this uses a ‘phantom’ powering system known as IEPE (integrated electronic piezo-electric), also known by a variety of proprietary names such as ICP®, CCP etc. At least IEPE is standardised! This means that long cables can be driven, and as long as your instrument can provide the powering, you should be in business. But always check that you have an IEPE accelerometer rather than a charge accelerometer first!
Due to being a capacitor, such accelerometers do not have a DC response, and will roll-off at low frequencies. Make sure you select one suitable for your task, if you want to measure down to 0.5Hz for example.

How does a standard accelerometer work?

The majority of accelerometers for our applications are piezoelectric devices. A small piezoceramic crystal is sandwiched between the base and a seismic mass, so when the base is accelerated, the crystal is stressed, causing a proportional charge output. Because it is a simple mass/spring system, it will have a fundamental resonance – the crystal is very stiff, so this will be high, some kilohertz for most devices. Below that resonance, the response is virtually flat and linear, making an excellent transducer.
To make a sensitive accelerometer, make the mass and/or crystal bigger – but, this brings the resonance down, so there’s a trade-off to be made. Thankfully, most requirements for sensitive accelerometers are at low frequencies!

How do you measure vibration?

Vibration transducers can be split basically into two types – accelerometers and geophones (or seismometers). Accelerometers have an output proportional to acceleration, and geophones have an output proportional to velocity. So how can both be used to measure vibration?
There’s a basic relationship between acceleration and velocity – the former being the rate of change, or the differential, of velocity. Therefore we can easily convert between the two by integrating an acceleration signal to yield a velocity signal. This is normally done in the time domain, using a filter (called an integrator), but it can also be done in the frequency domain by dividing an acceleration spectrum by 2πf, where f is the frequency. This effectively slopes the spectrum by -6dB/octave, so a velocity spectrum will appear to have a lot fewer high frequency components

What’s contact force and why do I need to measure it?

Contact force is a measurement of the amount of force between a user’s hand and the tool they’re using. The SV103A personal vibration dosimeter and the SV106A (when used with the SV105AF transducer) are unique in that they measure contact force, which ensures any uncertainty of the measurement to be greatly reduced. You can choose to disregard any data where there is insufficient contact force.

The new dosemeter standard ISO8041-2, under preparation and until recently chaired by Paul Pitts of HSL, will specify a new class of instrument called a Personal Vibration Exposure Meter, which will require contact force measurement. Svantek have the only instruments which currently meets the draft standard, and the SV103A and SV106A are the only ones on the market for now.

Does the hand mounted vibration accelerometer comply with regulations?

There are two standards, ISO 8041:2017 and ISO 5349:2001 Parts 1 & 2

ISO 8041 covers the instrument specification, so things like frequency response, weighting filters, detector linearity, measurement parameters etc.

The SV103 meets the standard.

ISO 5349 is a procedural standard, which tells you what you need (i.e. an instrument which meets ISO 8041), what to measure (e.g. AEQ, triaxial orientation of the hand, etc) and how to do the measurement (practical considerations, what to report, etc).

The SV103A meets both parts of the standard.

The most common misinterpretation of ISO 5349 is that I have heard people saying you cannot use hand-held accelerometers for the measurement. It does not say this in the standard. It discusses both tool-mounted and hand mounted, and in fact, with many tools (e.g. sanders, polishers, planers etc) it is not possible to use a tool-mounted accelerometer.

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