Recently, the demand for sensor technology has increased remarkably in all industrial fields. Sensor technology is closely related to cutting-edge technologies such as the semiconductor technology and thus, the high demand for small and light devices with high performance provides the impetus for conducting studies in order to develop sensors with much better performance. The MEMS field, which has rapidly emerged with the advancements in semiconductor technology, is a field of study for the production of micro-devices such as ultra-small structures, sensors, actuators and systems in which the MEMS technology is applied and this has led to a new revolution in the world sensor market.
Sensors for measuring pressure and acceleration and devices such as the inkjet
printer head have been commercialized since the 1970s. Among them, the accelerometer
has been one of the most successful commercialized MEMS products for air bag
crash-sensing applications. The accelerometer is a sensor which converts acceleration
from motion or gravity to an electrical signal. Nowadays, MEMS accelerometers
are widely used in automobile, navigation, aerospace and portable microsystems
not only because of their low cost, high reliability and sensitivity, but also
due to their small size and low power consumption (Li et
MEMS accelerometers use various techniques for measuring forces such as silicon
piezoelectric (Qing-Ming et al., 2004), piezoresistive
(Dan, 2000), resonant (Sung et
al., 2003; Ferrari et al., 2005), silicon
capacitive (Chih-Ming et al., 2008; Lee
et al., 2005) and convective (Leman et al.,
2007; Chaehoi et al., 2006). From among a
number of sensing methods, the capacitive sensing technique has become the most
attractive recently because it provides high sensitivity, low noise performance,
good DC response, low temperature sensitivity, low power dissipation and a simple
structure. Due to these advantages, silicon capacitive accelerometers have been
applied to numerous applications ranging from low-cost, large-volume automotive
accelerometers to high-precision, inertial-grade microgravity devices.
The present and potential future markets of MEMS accelerometers are for modern
condition monitoring systems (Alhussein et al., 2008;
Jagadeesh et al., 2006). The MEMS accelerometers
can be used in a wide variety of low g applications such as tilt and orientation,
vibration analysis and motion detection. The term tilt sensor is often used
to identify a large variety of devices that measure, indicate, or otherwise
provide a signal when tilted from a level position, using gravity as a reference
(Marin et al., 2005). Within the sensor industry,
tilt sensors generally refer strictly to the sensing element itself.
This study describes the development of a tilt measurement unit using a commercial MEMS accelerometer. Tilt is a static measurement where gravity is the acceleration being measured. To achieve the highest degree resolution of a tilt measurement, a low g, high sensitivity accelerometer is required. The commercial MEMS accelerometer ADXL202E, from Analog Device, was chosen as a detection sensor because of its higher sensitivity (12.5%/g) which allows the user to use a lower speed counter for PWM decoding while maintaining a high resolution. The aim of this study is to design, fabricate and test the tilt measurement unit for the purpose of inclination measurement and monitoring.
Commercial MEMS accelerometer, ADXL202E: The ADXL202E is a low-cost,
low-power, complete 2 axis accelerometer with a measurement range of ±2
g. The ADXL202E can measure both dynamic acceleration (e.g., vibration) and
static acceleration (e.g., gravity). The outputs are Duty Cycle Modulated (DCM)
signals whose duty-cycles (ratio of pulse width to period) are proportional
to the acceleration in each of the two sensitive axis (Fig. 1).
These outputs may be measured directly with the Universal Frequency-to-Digital
Converters (UFDC), requiring no Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) or glue logic.
The DCM period T2 is adjustable from 0.5 to 10 m sec-1
via a single resistor (RSET) by choosing a value between 100 kΩ and 2 MΩ.
As outlined in the data sheet, the nominal duty-cycle output of the ADXL202
is 50% at 0 g and 12.5% duty-cycle change per g. Therefore, to calculate acceleration
from the duty-cycle:
Sensitivity are common physical parameters used to rate an accelerometer. Sensitivity
(units: V g-1), is defined as the ratio of a change in the output
to a change of the input intended to be measured. According to the manufacturers
specification sheets, sensitivity can be calculated by:
Single axis tilt angle measurement: Figure 2a shows
graphical of a device with no tilting. Figure 2b shows the
device is being tilted along the x-axis direction. The y-axis remains at 0 g
output indicate that this is a single-axis tilting.
||ADXL202E output signal
In order to calculate the tilted angle by the use of accelerometer, the following
trigonometry is used:
The output acceleration of y axis due to gravity can be defined as the following:
Tilted angle is then can be solved by using the following equation:
Design and fabrication of Printed Circuit Board (PCB): The study was
conducted at the Collaborative Microelectronic Design Excellence Center (CEDEC),
Universiti Sains Malaysia, from 1 January 2008 until 31 December 2008. The commercial
MEMS accelerometer, ADXL202E, from Analog Device, comes in a surface mount package
attached with a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) for easy testing and troubleshooting.
Commercial PCB software, DXP2004, was used to design the PCB footprint for the
accelerometer, ADXL202E. Figure 3 shows the completed design
of footprint with copper pour added to reduce noise and to isolate adjacent
signal line. The fabricated artwork completed PCB with mounted ADXL202E is shown
in Fig. 4.
||PCB footprint for ADXL202E
||Complete PCB for ADXL202E
In order to test the accelerometer, it should be interfaced with an external
component such as resistor and capacitor. Figure 5 shows the
fabricated testing circuit for ADXL202E. There are four different values of
the capacitor for XFilt and YFilt. There are also four values for the resistor
for Rset. The purpose of putting these different values is to see the changes
in performance with different configurations.
EXPERIMENTAL METHOD AND PROCEDURES
The tilt angle measurement setup is shown in Fig. 6. A digital
scope was used to observe a duty cycle rather than to analyze a real-time signal,
logic and Root Mean Square (RMS) function. The averaging time of a digital scope
was increased to reduce the measurement time under semi automation measurements.
Therefore, the number of tilt angles presented to the device was squeezed to
a minimum. In order to prevent errors and uncertainty in the measurement on
output probing, any loose connections or unsuitable cables were avoided. The
risk of device oscillation was minimized and measurement time was reduced by
directly probing the output of the Device Under Test (DUT).
||Schematic of a testing circuit for MEMS accelerometer, ADXL202E
||Tilt angle measurement setup
The system was completed
with a 4156C Parameter Analyzer, MSO06102A Mixed-Signal Oscilloscope, E3611A
DC Bench Power Supply and a Fluke 187 Digital Multimeter.
The purpose of this test is to measure tilt in a single axis where the accelerometer
is mounted perpendicular to gravity and the tilt algorithm is limited to one
axis of sensitivity. The test started with DC applied on the device to determine
the functionality and to ensure there was no short circuit. At this stage, current
compliance needed to be monitored. Analogue voltage and digital output were
then measured for a different angle tilt. Measurements were carried out three
times for the same parameter to ensure repeatability results. Analogue output
and digital output was found to be better in terms of its stability.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The results showed that the device was capable of measuring tilt where the
accelerometer output corresponded with the angle changes. The output in voltage
nonlinearly changed with the change in the angle (Fig. 7).
This is a result of the construction of the sensor. The sensor is a surface
micromachined polysilicon structure built on top of the silicon wafer. Polysilicon
springs suspend the structure over the surface of the wafer and provide a resistance
against acceleration forces. Deflection of the structure is measured using a
differential capacitor that consists of independent fixed plates and central
plates attached to the moving mass. The fixed plates are driven by 180° out
of phase square waves. Acceleration will deflect the beam and unbalance the
differential capacitor, resulting in an output square wave whose amplitude is
proportional to acceleration (Analog Devices, 1999). Therefore,
the principle of the sensor gives it a sinusoidal input vs. output relationship
(Ang et al., 2004). Dong et
al. (2008) used tri-axis low g MEMS-based capacitive accelerometer from
STMicroelectronics (LIS3LV02DQ) to develop a low cost motion tracker. The results
for accelerometer analysis showed nonlinear relationship output of x-axis accelerometer.
||Output in voltage versus angle
They suggested that, the resolution of the ADC needs to be determined at 0° and
90° to ensure the lowest resolution is still within the requirement. Therefore, due to the nonlinearity of the accelerometer, it is more accurate
when the sensing axis is closer to 0° and less sensitive when closer to 90° .
The slope of the curve indicates the sensitivity of the device. The sensitivity
decreases with the increase of tilt angle from 0° towards 90° and from
270° towards 360° and increases from 90° towards 270° . Luczak
et al. (2006) studied on miniature tilt sensor made of standard MEMS
accelerometer, ADXL202E. They observed that, the sensitivity decreases with
the increase in roll angle from 0° toward 90° and the sensitivity of accelerometer
decreases down to zero for roll angle 90° . Therefore, they proposed that
it is more relevant to use a notion of the sensor sensitivity instead of its
uncertainty. Owing to application of the proposed method, the inaccuracy of
sensor indications decreased from 2° to 0.3° . So, a significant improvement
of the sensor performance has been achieved.
The design, fabrication and test of a tilt measurement unit using a commercial MEMS accelerometer, ADXL202E, are presented in this study. Preliminary test prove that the developed measurement device is capable of measuring tilt in a single axis where the sensor has several advantages in term of its compact size, low cost and high accuracy in orientation measurement. The output results showed nonlinear relationship in single axis tilting due to the construction of the sensor. The development of a tilt measurement unit will act as the fundamental measurement study for a future self designed MEMS accelerometer.
In the nearby future, we will develop a wireless sensor monitoring system for continuous data monitoring of tilt. The system will be based on wireless RF technology that can measure tilt parameter on-line. This remote continuous data monitoring will be control by computer or receive the report of information by mobile phone. Future studies will also include integrating Programmable System on Chip (PSoC) to improve the measurement data.
The authors would like to express sincere appreciation of the assistance of Mr. Mohd Kusairay Musa and Mr. Faisal Mohamad for his co-operation and assistance in providing support of the software. To Mr. Fazlan, Mr. Sanusi, Mr. Zamri and Puan Rohana, thanks for their kind help. Financial support from the Universiti Sains Malaysia Short Term Grant, 304/PELECT/6035301 is gratefully acknowledged.
||Output voltage from sensing axis
||Output voltage when orientation sense axis at -1 g
||Output voltage from sensing axis
||Output voltage when sensing axis at 0 g orientation
||Gravity acceleration (9.81 m sec-2)
||Output voltage of y axis.
||Angle from x axis
||Acceleration of y axis