Skewed Encoder Waveform

I received this e-mail from a potential customer who is trying to determine why his Encoder waveform doesn’t look right.  His name has been changed to protect his identity.

Hi Jim

I have just come across your Web page on RPM calculation using an optical encoder and oscilloscope. I was keen to test out this method of RPM calculation so rigged up my little encoder and oscilloscope without hesitation. I don’t seem to be getting a nice wave wave form across my display, its rather skewed. Could you just point out where I’m going wrong?

Really enjoyed reading your articles. Look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Eddie

Eddie’s photos are below:

Hi Eddie,

I would love to say the problem is that you aren’t using a Quantum Encoder….

But instead it looks like you are just missing a ground reference for the scope.   There is usually a little black alligator clip hanging off the side of the scope probe. That clip needs to be attached to the signal common on the encoder (black or negative on the power supply)

The red arrow below indicates where the ground clip should connect to the scope probe.

The reason your waveform looks  skewed is because the absence of a ground reference causes the scope to pick up ambient 60 Hz noise (it is everywhere, outlets, lights etc.) and couple it with your encoder signal.

Connecting the scope ground to the incremental encoder signal common will clear that right up.

Below is a picture of a scope probe with the ground clip.

Take care,

Jim

Jim Miller is a Design/Application engineer working for Quantum Devices Inc.

He can be reached at (608) 924-3000, or via e-mail at jmiller@quantumdev.com.

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Incremental Encoder Engineer interview

I was featured in an interview with EEweb.

Image

Jim Miller – Application and Design Engineer at Quantum Devices

How did you get into electronics/ engineering and when did you start?

I started when I was pretty young, like nine or ten, taking apart radios and using an old wood-burning tool to desolder components from the circuit boards I scavanged. I would pick up anything that was broken or being thrown out and tear it apart. I had no idea what I was doing but eventually stumbled onto some of the “Engineers Notebooks” that Forrest M. Mims III wrote for Radio Shack, those gave me the knowledge I was missing. Before long I was able to blow fuses out in the house on a regular basis. I have come a long way since then – we now have circuit breakers.

Can you tell us about your work experience/ history before becoming an Applications Design Engineer at Quantum Devices?

I have mainly worked with Industrial controls for Food & Beverage, and Pharmaceutical companies, which always includes quite a bit of PLC Programming. That is why you will see a bit of Ladder Logic in with some of the Quantum Devices Blog posts that I do. While I predominantly work with discrete electronics today, the industrial controls experience dovetails nicely with our Optical Encoder lines. Encoders are used on the back of motor and often in industrial applications, so I am able to better understand the way an end user might be trying to implement a design, and to some extend the way they might think.

Read more…

Cable length considerations with Incremental Encoders

The QD145, QD200 and QR12 series of optical encoders have  28 AWG conductors in the standard flying lead cable.

This gauge of cable is excellent for tight bends and fitting in applications where space is a premium.  The conductors can easily handle the 250 mA max current requirement of the encoder.

A smaller gauge conductor means that there will be a limit to the length of the cable. This is due to the DC resistive loss in the conductor that causes a slight voltage drop.  The longer the cable, the greater the voltage drop.

This voltage drop reduces the voltage seen at the encoder.

For an incremental encoder with a 28 AWG cable operating at 5VDC,  this limitation occurs at 17.85 feet.

There are a few ways around this incremental encoder cable length limitation:

1)       Splice the cable and go with a larger wire gauge for longer cable runs.

2)       Increase the power supply voltage to compensate for the voltage drop in the cable.

3)       For Incremental only (Non-commutated Encoders) Quantum Devices offers a 26 AWG cable.  26 AWG conductors bring the cable length limitation to 28.1 feet.

For other options, or help in determining the right wire gauge or incremental encoder for your application, you can reach Jim at (608) 924-300.

How to calculate pulses per degree for an incremental encoder

When using an Incremental Encoder, you often have to know how many pulses there are per degree of rotation. This is a very straightforward math problem.

Pulses per Degree = Number of encoder pulses per rotation/Number of degrees in a circle

For a 5000 Line count incremental rotary encoder we divide 5000/360 to get 13.89 pulses per degree of rotation.

Calculating Degrees of rotation per pulse for an incremental encoder

If you want to find out how many mechanical degrees of rotation there are for one pulse, you would do the problem the other way:

  Pulses per Degree = Number of degrees in a circle/Number of encoder pulses per rotation

For a 5000 rotary incremental encoder we divide 360 by 5000 to get 0.072.

This means that there are  0.072 Mechanical Degrees of rotation for every incremental encoder pulse.

This calculation is often useful if you have a counter totalizing incremental encoder pulses over a given distance or rotation.

Cross-referencing RENCO Incremental Encoders

We have always been able to come up with a suitable replacement for Renco encoders, but our customers are making us aware that we need to point that out.

For those who don’t know, Renco, after being absorbed by Heidenhain, made the decision to  eliminate much of their product line.  This move has left quite a few of their customers in the lurch. To help fill this need, we recently started promoting our ability to cross-reference Renco encoder lines on our web site with the rather obvious image you see above.  Clicking on this image will take you to a request form where you can let us know which Renco Encoder you are trying to cross.

Keep in mind that we can cross other encoder manufacturers as well.

As a  general reference, the following Renco incremental encoder cross-reference table can show you which style of Quantum Devices Incremental Encoder will likely work best.

Renco Encoder Quantum Devices Encoder
RHS15 QD145 or QR12
RCM15 QD145 or QR12
RM15 QD145 or QR12
RCH20 QD145 or QR12 or QD200
RHS20 QD145 or QR12 or QD200
RM21 QD145 or QR12 or QD200
RCM21 QD145 or QR12 or QD200
RCH50 QD145 or QD200
R50i QD145 or QR12 or QD200
R35i QR12 or LP12
R22i QR12 or LP12
RA25 QDH20
RDHI QDH20
RS25 QDH20