How to Test an Encoder with a Multimeter

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Would you like to find out how an encoder works and how it can benefit you? Maybe you like to learn how to test an encoder with a digital multimeter. Whatever your needs may be, this article got you covered. 

Essentially, encoders are utilized for motion response and motion regulation in hardware. Did you know these encoders are being utilized in equipment in all types of construction jobs? You will also realize that encoders are utilized in plotters, presenting processing, packing, robots, cut-to-length systems, filling, arranging, photography, and many more uses. 

What is an Encoder, by the way? 

In a nutshell, an encoder is a sensory device offering feedback. Keep in mind that these devices change movement to an electric wave, which might be interpreted by any kind of control unit within a movement control mechanism such as PLC or meter.

On top of that, encoders offer an input signal that can be used for a velocity, number, place, or path determination. That knowledge might be utilized by a control system to offer order for a particular action. 

Often, encoders are created to measure either one or all of the specific variables of an item, like location, speed, trajectory, and provide an object number or similar value as well.

The Working Mechanism of an Encoder

Take note that encoders utilize numerous types of advancements to produce the following:

  • magnetic signal 
  • resistive signal
  • optical signal
  • electrical signal 

When it comes to optical processing, the encoder produces feedback based on the lighting’s obstruction. 

Encoders can provide data about the direction, speed, and position of a moving part. It would normally deliver feedback, and it can be utilized to identify the speed, position, and speed, and more. You can utilize it for nearly all types of motion applications. You will also find numerous types of encoders, not to mention they can be utilized for a wide array of uses.

Remember that encoders function like feedback transducers for speed control in motors, like sensors for measuring and position as well. It can also be utilized for range and speed control applications. 

Are There Other Types of Encoders?

Yes, there are. This section will help you understand the different types of encoders. Basically, you will find two types of encoders: rotary and linear. Read further to find out about them. 

  1. Rotary Encoder – Also referred to as a shaft encoder, a rotating encoder is an electrical machine-like device that changes the angular movement or displacement of an axle to either automated and analog feedback signals. 

Take note that rotary encoders are being utilized in various applications involving limitless precision shaft movements, such as electronics and industrial automation. You will also find two types of rotary encoders, including incremental and absolute. 

  1. Linear Encoder – This encoder is considered a detector, transmitter, and redhead coupled along with a position-encoding unit. Are you wondering how it can turn the encoded orientation into an analog or electrical signal? 

You see, the detector scans the scale, which might be then processed into orientation by a motion operator or electronic reader. 

How Do You Test an Encoder with a Digital Multimeter?

A basic multimeter can be utilized to measure the encoder’s parameters. Bear in mind that a digital multimeter can measure the average duty cycle, frequency, peak voltage, and average voltage of an encoder.

That can be compared against the average output specified by the manufacturer and can identify whether the encoder is faulty or not. In most instances of encoder problems, the values measured by a multimeter would show to be normal even when the encoder is malfunctioning. In such scenarios, an oscilloscope is necessary for troubleshooting.

Take note that a digital multimeter can offer you an accurate or exact value for duty cycle, frequency, and voltage. Nonetheless, only an oscilloscope can present you with the behavior of the electrical signals. That makes troubleshooting simpler and easier. After all, a picture is worth a thousand’s words. 

But for all your testing needs with a multimeter, just follow the steps below, so you are properly guided. But before anything else, make sure you don’t work or operate on your machine without understanding or reading the manufacturer and installation manuals. 

  1. Connect the 12-volt power supply positive to pin A and negative to pin B.  
  2. For the next step, connect the positive lead of your multimeter to pin C.
  3. Connect then the multimeter’s negative lead to pin B. 
  4. The voltage should fluctuate from zero to twelve volts while you slowly rotate the shaft on the encoder. 
  5. If you didn’t get a 12-volt reading, or the voltage just did not drop when the shaft is turned, it means your encoder is bad or defective. 

Measurements along with a multimeter can show the duty cycle, frequency, and voltage of the signal from your encoder. Use this method only if your controller is now showing a rate when the conveyor is running. This method shows that the encoder has failed totally. Further, this method will not identify if your encoder is transmitting an erratic signal. 

Final Thoughts

Any encoder motor that you would like to use might have numerous types of systems. Nonetheless, the way of testing for all of such encoders are pretty much the same. The steps of testing an encoder which is discussed above, are the most accurate and certainly simple steps for you to easily test your encoder with a digital multimeter wherever and whenever you like to.

Compared to other tutorials out there, the steps above are simple to understand and perform at the same time, not to mention they will not cause you any type of confusion. Therefore, you will easily understand and will be able to test any encoder you like with such steps.

So, what about you? Are you now ready to test your encoder? Feel free to share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments below! If you’re lost with the steps, you can always visit this page, so you’re always informed. We wish you good luck with your test!

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