Note: The 1046_0B is identical to the 1046_0, except that it comes pre-assembled in a plastic shell enclosure and you have the option of which length of USB cable you want to include.
The PhidgetBridge lets you connect up to 4 un-amplified Wheatstone bridges, such as:
- Strain gauges
- Compression load cells
- Pressure sensors/Barometers
- Piezoresistive accelerometers
- Magnetoresistive sensors (Compasses)
The data rate and gain values can be configured in software.
|Controlled By||USB (Mini-USB)|
|API Object Name||Bridge|
|Number of Bridge Inputs||4|
|Bridge Data Rate Min||* 8 ms|
|Bridge Data Rate Max||1000 ms|
|Bridge Input Current Max||± 3 nA|
|Differential Voltage Resolution||24 bit|
|USB Voltage Min||4.5 V DC|
|USB Voltage Max||5.3 V DC|
|USB Speed||Full Speed|
|Current Consumption Min||35 mA|
|Current Consumption Max||500 mA|
|Available External Current||465 mA|
|Input Voltage Limit Min||Ground + 0.25V DC|
|Input Voltage Limit Max||5V Supply - 0.25V DC|
|Recommended Wire Size||16 - 26 AWG|
|Operating Temperature Min||0 °C|
|Operating Temperature Max||70 °C|
Welcome to the 1046 user guide! In order to get started, make sure you have the following hardware on hand:
- 1046 PhidgetBridge
- USB cable and computer
- something to use with the 1046 (e.g. load cell, strain gauge, RTD , wheatstone-bridge type sensor, etc.)
Next, you will need to connect the pieces:
- Connect your sensor to the PhidgetBridge according to the wiring specified on the sensor's product page or datasheet. See the technical section to learn how to hook up resistive sensors such as RTDs.
- Connect the PhidgetBridge to your computer using the USB cable.
Now that you have everything together, let's start using the 1046!
Using the 1046
Phidget Control Panel
In order to demonstrate the functionality of the 1046, the Phidget Control Panel running on a Windows machine will be used.
The Phidget Control Panel is available for use on both macOS and Windows machines.
To open the Phidget Control Panel on Windows, find the icon in the taskbar. If it is not there, open up the start menu and search for Phidget Control Panel
To open the Phidget Control Panel on macOS, open Finder and navigate to the Phidget Control Panel in the Applications list. Double click on the icon to bring up the Phidget Control Panel.
For more information, take a look at the getting started guide for your operating system:
Linux users can follow the getting started with Linux guide and continue reading here for more information about the 1046.
After plugging the 1046 into your computer and opening the Phidget Control Panel, you will see something like this:
The Phidget Control Panel will list all connected Phidgets and associated objects, as well as the following information:
- Serial number: allows you to differentiate between similar Phidgets.
- Channel: allows you to differentiate between similar objects on a Phidget.
- Version number: corresponds to the firmware version your Phidget is running. If your Phidget is listed in red, your firmware is out of date. Update the firmware by double-clicking the entry.
The Phidget Control Panel can also be used to test your device. Double-clicking on an object will open an example.
Double-click on the Voltage Ratio object, labelled Bridge Input, in order to run the example:
General information about the selected object will be displayed at the top of the window. You can also experiment with the following functionality:
- Modify the change trigger and/or data interval value by dragging the sliders. For more information on these settings, see the data interval/change trigger page.
- Toggle the Enable checkbox in order enable/disable the 1046.
- Select a gain from the Bridge Gain drop-down menu. For more information about choosing the best gain, see the technical section.
Finding The Addressing Information
Before you can access the device in your own code, and from our examples, you'll need to take note of the addressing parameters for your Phidget. These will indicate how the Phidget is physically connected to your application. For simplicity, these parameters can be found by clicking the button at the top of the Control Panel example for that Phidget.
In the Addressing Information window, the section above the line displays information you will need to connect to your Phidget from any application. In particular, note the Channel Class field as this will be the API you will need to use with your Phidget, and the type of example you should use to get started with it. The section below the line provides information about the network the Phidget is connected on if it is attached remotely. Keep track of these parameters moving forward, as you will need them once you start running our examples or your own code.
Using Your Own Program
You are now ready to start writing your own code for the device. The best way to do that is to start from our examples:
This Phidget is compatible with the VoltageRatioInput Examples.
Once you have your example, you will need to follow the instructions on the page for your programming language to get it running. To find these instructions, select your programming language from the Programming Languages page.
How to Calibrate the Bridge
We have observed a 1.5% difference between a 1x gain and an 8x gain. This may require that each system (1046 and sensors) be calibrated as a whole. For maximum accuracy, decide on, and keep with a chosen gain before calibrating the system.
Expensive sensors will ship with a certificate of calibration specifying, often in mv/V, how the sensor responds to stimulus. Less expensive will have to be calibrated, which requires having at least two points where you know accurately what is being measured. In the case of weight measurement, this would be a known force or weight.
Record the output from the 1046 at one known point, and at a second known point. It helps if the two values are reasonably far apart. Use the values to make a linear equation to convert the 1046 output in V/V (called X) to the appropriate unit you are measuring (called Y). Two calibration coefficients (a,b) set the slope and offset for the calibration: (Y = aX + b). It’s possible to use more than two points, if available.
The C# VoltageRatioInput example shows how to do a 2-point calibration and apply the coefficients programmatically.
Gain Setting vs. Resolution
We report the measured voltage in a ratiometric unit known as V/V. This is how the maximum range of sensors that use strain gauges is usually specified. V/V is the output value in V of the measured sensor, scaled for a 1V sensor supply voltage. This value will correspond to the physical quantity that the sensor is measuring, regardless of the actual voltage supplied to the sensor.
|1||119 nV/V||± 1000 mV/V|
|8||14.9 nV/V||± 125 mV/V|
|16||7.45 nV/V||± 62.5 mV/V|
|32||3.72 nV/V||± 31.25 mV/V|
|64||1.86 nV/V||± 15.625 mV/V|
|128||0.93 nV/V||± 7.8125 mV/V|
When choosing the Gain setting, it's best to use the highest gain possible that can still measure the full range of your sensor. For an individual unit, you can apply the maximum stimulus to the sensor, and ensure the voltage ratio reported is well within the range for the gain setting you have chosen. If many units are being deployed, it’s best to consult the data sheet for the strain gauge and look for maximum offset.
Some wheatstone bridges, most often those produced from silicon and used in pressure sensors, will have a very wide offset, and large manufacturing variation in the offset. This will restrict the gain to lower settings, particularly if the application must support a number of deployed systems with the expected variation. Fortunately, the very high precision electronics used in the 1046 means that in many application, higher gain is not necessary to get adequate accuracy and resolution.
Connecting your Strain Gauge/Load Cell
Load cells are pressure sensors that can be used with the 1046. For more information, see our Load Cell Primer.
If no documentation is available for your strain gauge, it’s possible to use a multimeter to determine how to connect it, provided there are no electronics in the sensor. First, measure resistance between the 4 wires. There are 6 combinations - two combinations will have a resistance 20-40% higher than the other four. Choose one of these high-resistance combinations, and wire it into 5V and G on the 1046. Connect the other two wires into +/-. Apply a load, if the V/V responds in the opposite way to your expectations, flip the +/- wires.
The 1046 is designed to measure voltages as a ratio of the supply voltage - it’s not practical to make measurements of absolute voltages with this product.
For maximum accuracy, all wires from the 1046 to the sensor should be the same length and thickness. Changes in temperature will change the resistance of the wires - if they are all the same, the errors will cancel out.
Each bridge input can be powered down, reducing power consumption with 1046 sensors, and useful for reducing heating of sensors, which can introduce errors.
Changing the Data Rate
Using a slower sampling rate will reduce the noise in the measurements dramatically. The noise figures are specific to individual applications and sensors. The lowest noise level achievable is 5nV/V RMS.
Measuring Resistive Thermal Devices (RTD)
Using a Wheatstone Bridge
A Wheatstone bridge is the classic method of measuring unknown resistances, and requires three resistors of known values. It uses the current in each leg of the bridge to create a voltage differential between both voltage dividers. Using the voltage differential and the three known resistors, the resistance of the fourth resistor can be determined.
To determine the resistance of the RTD, the following formula can be used:
1046_0B - PhidgetBridge 4-Input
- Brands Phidgets
- Product Code: ES000016
- Availability: In Stock