Sound engineering and laboratory practices require that the instrumentation used to make critical strain measurements is periodically calibrated to verify that it is within the manufacturer’s original specifications. Additionally, each type of strain indicator exhibits some degree of nonlinearity, especially for large strains during quarter-bridge operation. Since this is the most common stress analysis application of strain gages, it is important that the strain indicator be calibrated in this mode. Instrumentation span should also be checked at a number of points before each important test to avoid inaccurate data.
Two types of calibrators are commonly used for this type of periodic calibration. One is based on the star network, and the other is based on the Wheatstone bridge.
Star Network Calibrators
The ‘star network’ used in certain other commercial calibrators provides a substantially lower cost instrument design, because component specifications are less critical, and fewer components are required.
However, the ‘star network’ cannot simulate quarter-bridge strain gage behavior, and cannot simulate positive strain. Another serious problem with this circuit is that the bridge input and output resistances change in an abnormal manner, leading to inaccuracies in calibration under some conditions.
Wheatstone Bridge Calibrators
A calibrator based on the Wheatstone bridge principle requires stable components. The Model 1550B calibrator is a Wheatstone bridge and generates a true change of resistance in one or two arms of the bridge. It simulates the actual behavior of a strain gage in both positive and negative strain. A total of 66 ultra-stable precision resistors are used in the Model 1550B calibrator to provide the stability, repeatability, accuracy and incremental steps required in a laboratory standards instrument.
Follow this link to learn more about the 1550B Strain Indicator Calibrator.