Project Advice

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 16, 2012
Ok, so some back ground info: I am a mechanical engineer and have designed a testing apparatus to aid in some measurements. That being said I was able to easily design the setup but have no idea on how to make it work automatically once a "start" button is pressed. I don't think this simple operation would require a PLC system but rather a micro controller of sorts.So in my picture I have attached are the steps I want to perform...I would love to export the recorded data to a text file so it could be imported into a program i already wrote. Any advice for a newbie? I know this is probably a large first project...but I am looking for suggestions for micro-controllers and any other ideas.





Joined Sep 9, 2010
I've used lab devices very similar to this, made by Instron and Texture Technologies. The general idea is to advance (or retreat) a plunger according to some program, measuring load as it goes. Depending on the probe size and the programmed advance, you can learn all sorts of things about the test material. The food industry looks at freshness, chew, stickiness, mouthfeel, and on and on.

Anyway, you might learn a lot by reverse engineering one of the existing devices. Or maybe you'll prefer to buy one.

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 16, 2012
its funny you should mention that, we already have an instrument in the lab that performs this procedure and many others, it was about 25K. But again it graphs curves and can have custom procedures written very easily on the computer software side...this is a little more than I need for a production floor testing apparatus. I will only need it to perform the one measurement and give the graphing or custom changes need to be made....all that said i think I can make one for under 5k max!



Joined Jun 23, 2011
Its an application of embedded systems and might require knowledge of embeded programming(if ur making the program urself)........U might find such instruments in labs etc,
Just try if u get chance to open such kit and research on it!!!!! Scope for modifications will always be there!!!!!


Joined Oct 15, 2009
If you want a simple micro thats fairly easy to learn..I'd start by looking at the Arduino


Joined Nov 30, 2010
The stringpot idea seems a bit primitive when you consider that a stepper motor can be advanced and retracted very accurately (if you are going the microprocessor route).

I'm really not qualified to comment on the overall idea, just picking on a feature that seems inconsistent with accuracy.