In this lab students will complete hands-on activities to measure, calibrate, and analyze common physical properties/phenomena. Designed for NI ELVIS III.

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The accurate and reliable measurement of physical quantities allows engineers to reliably monitor and control processes. Therefore, having an in-depth understanding of sensors is required to design, implement, and maintain complex mechatronic systems. This lab manual provides students with hands-on experience to measure, calibrate, and analyze the following common physical properties/phenomena: angular displacement, distance, strain, temperature, pressure, contact, and pose. The skills and hands-on experiences gained using the Sensors board are directly aligned and applicable to the challenges engineers face creating the complex systems that dominate the world today.

Quanser Inc.



  • Understand the underlying physics and construction of sensors
  • Perform static calibration sensors
  • Determine key sensor properties
  • Characterize sensor behavior
  • Perform signal conditioning
  • Compare the performance of sensors that measure the same physical quantities
  • Apply basic filtering and statistical analysis to measured signals




Level University, First or Second Year
Topic Mechatronic Sensors
Style Laboratory; Project Based Learning
Prerequisite Skills
  • Physics I or equivalent
  • Calculus I or equivalent
  • Basic LabVIEW Proficiency


Angular Displacement

This lab explores angular displacement measurements using a potentiometer and an incremental encoder. Students will calibrate both sensors for accurately measuring angular displacements, and will examine decoding algorithms for encoders.

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Distance and Proximity

This lab explores long-range distance measurement using a sonar sensor, mid- to short-range distance measurement using a Time-of-Flight sensor, and proximity measurement using an infrared proximity sensor. Students complete hands-on activities involving sensor calibration, measurement scatter, and target reflectivity.

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This lab explores the thermo-resistive properties of a thermistor. The student will collect temperature data, calibrate the sensor, and determine its thermal time-constant. Finally, the student will filter the signal to improve its quality.

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Strain Gage

This lab explores the concept of strain measurement using a strain gage. Students will take measurements from and calibrate a strain gage mounted on a cantilever beam and placed in a quarter-bridge Wheatstone configuration. Then they will measure the natural frequency of the beam assembly by applying a fast Fourier transform to the response of the beam due to an impulse.

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This lab explores pressure measurement using a capacitive pressure transducer. Students begin by learning the fundamentals of pressure measurement and calibration, including concepts like Boyle's Law. They will then measure changes in pressure using both gauge and absolute pressure scales, and finally calibrate the pressure transducer.

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This lab explores contact sensors, including a snap action switch and a capacitive touch sensor. Students complete hands-on activities to examine mechanical switch debouncing, as well as scroll and single-button touch action using a capacitive touch sensor.

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Inertial Measurement

This lab explores acceleration, rotation, and magnetic field measurements using an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor. Students will measure the output of the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors in the IMU, and determine roll, pitch, and yaw. Finally, students will approximate the earth’s magnetic field direction using magnetometer measurements.

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Detailed Requirements

Required Software

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  • NI ELVIS III Software Bundle (2018 or later)
    • LabVIEW (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW Real-Time Module (Requires license)
    • NI ELVIS III Toolkit

Required Hardware

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