I'm working on an open-source curriculum project to develop a free physics curriculum. We're trying to build a cheaper version of this dual-range force sensor - https://www.vernier.com/product/dual-range-force-sensor/ that uses a strain gauge. It's attached to a dynamics cart and smashed into stuff to see how force varies with time on a graph. It has a really high sample rate. It's a really good product, but too expensive for most teachers to have a classroom set of.
It needs to be off the shelf and relatively easy for teachers to set up. We've thought about using a linear potentiometer on a spring or a strain gauge. Any advice?
I used to play around with a Basic Stamp but I'm completely new to ardunio programming and have no idea on how to build an interface that can calibrate the force meter and display a graph of force vs time. Are there people who can help with such a thing (maybe paid)?
[ edit after watching the video, this post does not apply ]
By using an arduino as a separate device. You may be able to have say one arduino and 4 different groups of sensors.
That way you could get 4 different things.
Force, fluid, vibration and something else
So much less per experiment.
Good evening @jdonna, I am afraid I don't fully understand the exact process that your dual force sensor works, but it is my understanding that it reads push and pull. I am not sure if what I am about to suggest is something that will help but maybe someone here can tell you if this will work for you.
What I am thinking is utilizing at least 2 accelerometers facing away from each other linked to a suitable Arduino board. (I am currently only working with Nano V3.0's myself and an Uno shield but that's beside the point) If you run the Arduino IDE on your computer then you can use the Serial Plotter to see on a line graph the data coming from the accelerometers, both forward and reverse (a pull and push per say). Not only that but you can also see other lateral movements from your main line and be able to base a lesson on if the lateral movement directly correlates to the effects of push-pull.
Mind you that is entirely a possible theory of an idea. I hope someone with more experience an knowledge can actually tell you if this will work for you.
While you certainly COULD use a pot the "slide" pots have a lot of friction, and low friction "precision" versions are £100. So are similar devices such as LVDT's.
However a ROTARY pot - precision 10 turn - have low friction and you could easily convert to linear motion with a suiable spring and drum arrangement to measure a pull force.
Altenatively you could use a load cell that would adapt to push or pull forces
Unfortunately S or z shaped load cells that work without introducing torque sem to be VASTLY more expensive than the straiight beam type.
Then all you need is a basic arduino - eg a nano £zilch and a pc to program it and show results.
Easy to do and you have a lot of flexibility in calibrating the sensor, and doing data capture and display.
The only good way is a load cell or call it a strain gauge. Add a HX711 as johnerrington wrote.
The cheapest scales or fish weight devices or hanging scales on Ebay / AliExpress / Amazon have all a load cell. Buy a few and open them, you'll see. It is cheap, reliable and accurate.