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Position sensor electronics for use in Formula 1 actuators

Position sensor electronics for use in Formula 1 actuators Current trends indicate that smaller, more compact, more intelligent displacement measurement sensors are required, particularly in high performance motor-sport applications. Hydraulic cylinders and actuators, for example, are becoming ever smaller and therefore require more compact, ultra slimline position sensors for measuring displacement and piston position. More robust, pressure-resistant position sensors are now required.

With pressure on motorsport teams to minimise the weight of onboard systems, the requirement for extremely compact sensors is also critical, especially if installation space is restricted. This is also true for integration - both in terms of electronics and building more intelligence into the sensor itself, without the need for any bulky, separate controllers.

Micro-Epsilon UK recently co-developed a new version of drive electronics for its EDS series of displacement sensors with McLaren Applied Technologies, the official supplier of Electronic Control Units (ECU) to the FIA Formula One World Championship. The custom developed EDS sensor electronics becomes an integral part of the sub-miniature sensor, electronics and hydraulic actuator control system on the engine.

Compared to traditional methods of measuring displacement and piston position in hydraulic actuators such as LVDT's, the EDS sensor is much more compact in both its length and diameter. It uses a non-ferrous aluminium outer sleeve as its target, which can be easily integrated into the piston rod if required. As Chris Jones, managing director at Micro-Epsilon explains: "This enables the sensor body to be a solid rod rather than a traditional LVDT style with a hollow sensor body and plunger, making it easier for OEMs to assemble and much more robust and reliable, particularly in harsh, on-vehicle environments."

The EDS sensor is a robust, pressure-resistant position sensor for hydraulics and pneumatics applications. The latest version is ultra-compact with a diameter of just 3mm, which is ideal for miniature hydraulic cylinders and actuators. The sensors are manufactured from a pressure-resistant stainless steel (up to 450bar), can operate to 175°C and withstand extreme vibration and shock levels (up to 300g axial and 100g radial). The sensor electronics and signal conditioning are also extremely compact and mounted onto the engine.
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