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Introduction to Accelerometers

What are Accelerometers?
An accelerometer is a device that measures the vibration, or acceleration of motion of a structure. The force caused by vibration or a change in motion (acceleration) causes the mass to "squeeze" the piezoelectric material which produces an electrical charge that is proportional to the force exerted upon it. Since the charge is proportional to the force, and the mass is a constant, then the charge is also proportional to the acceleration.
There are two types of piezoelectric accelerometers (vibration sensors). The first type is a "high impedance" charge output accelerometer. In this type of accelerometer the piezoelectric crystal produces an electrical charge which is connected directly to the measurement instruments. The charge output requires special accommodations and instrumentation most commonly found in research facilities. This type of accelerometer is also used in high temperature applications (>120C) where low impedance models can not be used.
The second type of accelerometer is a low impedance output accelerometer. A low impedance accelerometer has a charge accelerometer as its front end but has a tiny built-in micro-circuit and FET transistor that converts that charge into a low impedance voltage that can easily interface with standard instrumentation. This type of accelerometer is commonly used in industry. An accelerometer power supply like the ACC-PS1, provides the proper power to the microcircuit 18 to 24 V @ 2 mA constant current and removes the DC bias level, they typically produces a zero based output signal up to +/- 5V depending upon the mV/g rating of the accelerometer. All OMEGA(R) accelerometers are this low impedance type.

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