March 01, 2016 Volume 12 Issue 09

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Application Note:
Quadcopter propeller torque/thrust testing

Professional- and hobbyist-level quadcopters and drones are becoming more popular in the marketplace. A quadcopter by definition uses its four propellers to generate air lift and change directions. The propellers are designed to work in conjunction with each other to ensure that there are no torque imbalances that could send the vehicle spinning out of control.

But how do you perform accurate quadcopter propeller torque and thrust testing?

Advanced sensor specialist FUTEK has the answer.

How it works

MBA500 Multi-Axis Thrust and Torque Sensor



  1. In order to characterize the thrust and torque generated by each motor and propeller, a torque and thrust biaxial sensor is fixed to the motor's end. FUTEK's MBA500 Torque and Thrust Bi-Axial Load Cell is designed to measure reaction torque moments as well as tension and compression loads -- all in one transducer. This 6.5-oz, all-aluminum unit is temperature compensated. It is able to achieve an impressive 0.2 percent nonlinearity and yet provide 150 percent (50 to 150 lb) over-capacity.

  2. USB220 High-Speed/High-Resolution USB Module.



  3. When the motor is powered on and rotating, the thrust of the propellers will be measured by the MBA500's Fz channel, and the back-torque of the motor is measured by the Mz channel -- all while maintaining low crosstalk.

  4. This multi-axial sensor, when used with a USB220, allows for a convenient and accurate portable setup where a hobbyist/test engineer can use a laptop to analyze the live test data outdoors or in a more controlled indoor environment.

    IAA SERIES Strain Gauge Analog Amplifier.



    The new USB220 - External USB Kit module is supplied by PC power through a USB Cable, providing excitation voltage for the sensor. The analog output voltage of the sensor is then digitized and processed by a microprocessor using the integrated high-resolution (24 bits) analog-to-digital converter (ADC).

    An IAA SERIES Strain Gauge Analog Amplifier provides a general-purpose amplifier solution for in-line amplification of any full-bridge strain gauge-type sensor with mV/V range output. This model combines precision and ease of integration with a 0.005 percent total error.

Source: FUTEK

Published March 2016

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