As the World Turns: Shimpo Tachometers

by THS on December 14, 2009

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Though you may not know what a tachometer is, many people look at one every day: the gauge on your car’s instrument panel that tells you how many RPM’s your engine is cranking.  Vroom.  In short, that’s exactly what a tachometer is and does.  It is a device that measures how fast an object, usually a shaft or a disk, is rotating.  At this point in the article, you probably know whether or not this is a product that interests you at all.  Shifting gears aside, the speeds of most rotating objects aren’t a concern to very many consumers.  For some scientists, engineers and industrial workers, however, rotating devices spin them right round, baby.

Shimpo tachometers take two forms: hand-held and panel mounted.  The hand-held devices operate by actual physical contact with the object or by a photo reflective sensor.  Contact tachs like the DT-105A and DT-107A use a wheel, chisel point or some other attachment that actually touches the shaft as it spins to take a measurement.  When using a laser tach, you place strips of reflective tape on the object being measured and shine a beam of light at it, recording the rate at which the light is reflected back to the unit.  Tachometers of this type, such as the DT-205L and the DT-207L, are great for setups where it is unfeasible or unsafe to get close enough to the spinning object to measure it with a contact tach.  Another option that does not require a user to stay near the rotating object is a panel mounted tachometer and sensor.

True to their name, panel mounted tachometers are made to mount in an instrument panel.  They can be paired with multiple types of sensors, making them more versatile.  These tachometers are often used in production environments where rotating objects must be constantly monitored for safety, quality control, etc.  Shimpo also offers the DT-6CG panel mount counter.  It works in a similar way to panel tachs, but measures only the number of times an object rotates, not the rate at which it does so.  Unlike hand tachs, which have sensors built into the control unit, panel tachs and counters usually connect via wire to sensors that are placed near the object to be measured.

Several types of sensors are available for different applications.  There are photo reflective sensors, similar to the ones non-contact hand tachs use.  In addition to those, Proximity sensors sense when metal passes particularly close to them.  Pulse generators make electrical pulses as they spin which are picked up by the tachometer.  Some counters and tachometers also accept external modules that allow them to collect data in different modes.  I prepared a reference table to help determine which sensors and modules work with which tachometers and counters.

While the need to measure rotational speed doesn’t come up too often in the average consumer’s life, it can be very important in some research and industrial applications.  If you’re one of the lucky few who can’t get enough RPM’s, The Human Solution is your source for all Shimpo tachometers, counters, modules and sensors.  If you need recommendations or have any questions, feel free to call us at 800-531-3746, preferably with a rotary dial phone.

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Written by THS

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