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Verifying hydraulic control

system operation with

Fluke ScopeMeter ®

120 Series test tools Application Note

The electronic sensors, controllers and actuators or valves

used to control a hydraulic system enable cranes, presses,
injection molding machines, earth moving equipment and
other “heavy duty” areas to operate faster and more accu-
rately. The service, maintenance and installation of these
electro-hydraulic systems require measurement tools that
provide insight into the system circuit behavior.

Hydraulic system • position sensors that feedback

principles the actual position of the rod,
An hydraulic system has a fluid for accurate positioning
reservoir and a pump that pumps • pressure valves that limit the
hydraulic fluid into the various maximum pressure by venting
hydraulic cylinders to create fluid to the reservoir
movement of the cylinder rod. A
controller determines into which Measuring control and
cylinder the fluid is pumped by sensor signals
opening a valve to that cylinder. Control signals
The amount the valve is opened The motion and speed of the
determines the speed of move- cylinder rod are directly related
ment of the cylinder rod. to the oil flow regulated by the
The valve stays open and the valve. Figure 1 shows a
rod moves until a sensor (or schematic drawing of a cylinder
operator) feeds information back controlled by a 4-way propor-
to the controller, causing it to tional valve.
close the valve. These feedback This valve has a P for pressure
sensors are of three main kinds: input that can be fed to either its Figure 2 shows a valve control
• limit sensors that feed back a A or B outputs depending upon signal that has been measured
position that has been the control signal, and an T for using a ScopeMeter® test tool.
reached, for example the “end Tank (to fluid reservoir) return Initially the signal has a level of
of stroke” for the rod which is then connected to the +2 V. This means that the valve
non-pressurized A or B output. In is slightly open, connecting the P
this way the cylinder rod can be to B (and A to T) and the cylinder
moved left or right by controlling rod is retracted.
the pressure fed to the A or B
outputs with the control signal.

Figure 2. Valve control.

Figure 1. Basic diagram.

From the Fluke Digital Library @ www.fluke.com/library

When the voltage level
changes to -4 V, the position of
the valve changes and the flow
direction of the oil is reversed (P
to A and B to T), so the rod
moves at high speed to the out-
ermost position. After 2 seconds,
the rod reaches its outermost
position, the valve is closed (0 V)
and the cylinder holds this posi-
tion for about 1 second.
The voltage level then
changes to +3 V to re-open the Figure 3. End-of-stroke sensor signals. Figure 5. Correct sensor alignment.
valve and retract the rod. Finally, (Fluke 124) (Fluke 123)
just before the innermost position
is reached again, the valve open- the sensor A position. The right By counting pulses, and with
ing is reduced slowly by chang- cursor is positioned on the rising knowledge of the direction of
ing the voltage level from +3 V edge of the sensor B signal. This travel, highly accurate rod posi-
to +2 V, so the cylinder rod is where the cylinder rod tioning can be realized.
moves gently into its innermost reached the sensor B position. During initial installation of the
position, where it is slowly The cursor read-out indicates the system, or if any of the sensors
forced to its mechanical limits. time duration (dt) between both have to be replaced when carry-
Using the ScopeMeter test tool cursor positions. When position- ing out maintenance, the sensor
cursor function, it is easy to ing information is required, a output signals must be aligned to
determine the time taken to resistive linear displacement ensure that they are correctly
move the cylinder rod from one transducer is often used for short processed by the system’s elec-
position to the other, and to rod movements. These give an tronics. In particular, the succes-
measure the control voltage lev- output signal directly related to sive pulses in the output
els during the various stages. position. wave-train must be symmetrical
From this picture, the engineer and of equal amplitude. Figures 4
can see which changes he can and 5 show incorrect and correct
make to adjust the behavior of alignment of this sensor output.
the system. For instance: he
could increase the retraction Conclusion
speed by increasing the control To verify correct operation of
signal voltage from +3 V to +4 V, electro-hydraulic systems, visual
or he could reduce the retention storage of the control signals over
force by decreasing the retention time is essential. The ScopeMeter
voltage level from +2 V to +1 V. 120 Series’ test tool’s low-speed
Sensor signals signal display capabilities make
Most systems use sensors to these instruments ideal for meas-
determine the position of various uring and analyzing hydraulic
moving components, such as an Figure 4. Incorrect sensor alignment. control signals, and their rugged
“end-of-stroke” detector. Figure 2 (Fluke 123) battery powered capabilities
illustrates how sensors can be For accurate positioning on enable them to work in all the
used to detect a “cylinder rod” long rod movements, servo cylin- environments where hydraulic
end-of stroke position. ders are used. Here a sensor is systems are employed.
The relatively low repetition mounted in the cylinder head,
rate of the rod movement where it is protected from water, Fluke. Keeping your world
requires a storage oscilloscope to dirt and other environmental up and running.
store the measured signal char- influences. The sensor operates
acteristics over a long period of by magnetically sensing a pat- Fluke Corporation
time. With the ScopeMeter test tern of grooves cut into the base PO Box 9090, Everett, WA USA 98206
tool, signals from the sensors can of the piston rod. The change in Fluke Europe B.V.
easily be measured and stored. the magnetic field caused as the PO Box 1186, 5602 BD
When the measurements are grooves pass the cylinder head Eindhoven, The Netherlands
complete, the cursor function can generate a signal in the sensor, For more information call:
be used to measure the time which is converted by separate In the U.S.A. (800) 443-5853 or
required for the rod to move from electronics into a pulse. When
Fax (425) 446-5116
In Europe/M-East/Africa (31 40) 2 675 200 or
one sensor the other. Figure 3 the direction of the rod is Fax (31 40) 2 675 222
shows the signals measured on reversed, a phase shift in the In Canada (800) 36-FLUKE or
sensor A and B. The left cursor is sensor signal output occurs Fax (905) 890-6866
positioned on the falling edge of enabling the direction of the rod
From other countries +1 (425) 446-5500 or
Fax +1 (425) 446-5116
the sensor A signal. This is to be determined. Web access: http://www.fluke.com
where the cylinder rod leaves
©2004 Fluke Corporation. All rights reserved.
Printed in U.S.A. 3/2004 2140244 A-ENG-N Rev A
2 Fluke Corporation Verifying hydraulic control system operation with Fluke ScopeMeter 120 Series test tools