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Tracy Molnar

Recent Posts

How Do Inductive Sensors Respond to Stainless Steel?

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Thu, May 22, 2014

Inductive sensors are designed for the detection of metal targets at close range and are a popular choice for use as proximity switches in factory automation applications.  Carbon steel is the typical target material for these sensors, but in some industries, stainless steel is more common.  There are also certain cases when either both types of steel must be detected by the same sensor, or one sensor is needed to be able to distinguish between the two. 

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Topics: Inductive Sensors, Applications

Understanding the Ultrasonic Sound Cone

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Tue, Feb 18, 2014

When someone is looking for a device to detect the presence of a target object, or to determine target distance (for example, in level measurement applications), I often suggest an ultrasonic sensor as one possible solution.  Most of these sensors operate as a single unit that emits sound pulses and evaluates the echo of each pulse as it is reflected back from the target object. 

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Topics: Ultrasonic Sensors

How to Read a Sensor Connection Diagram

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Tue, Nov 05, 2013

Look before wiring!

Let’s talk about connection diagrams.  Although sensor hookup is typically simple – just a few wires – it’s always a good idea to consult the connection diagram before wiring to be sure you’ll end up with the outcome you expect. 

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Topics: Inductive Sensors, Capacitive Sensors, Ultrasonic Sensors, Photoelectric Sensors, Magnetic Sensors

My Old Industrial Sensor has 4 Pins

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Thu, Oct 17, 2013

…and the replacement only has 3 – can I still use it?

It’s always a good idea to double-check that a different-looking industrial sensor will work as a replacement for your currently-installed part, because looks can be deceiving.  Take for example the question above regarding the number of pins in a sensor’s connector. 

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Topics: Inductive Sensors, Cables/ Cordsets, Capacitive Sensors, Ultrasonic Sensors, Photoelectric Sensors, Ask an Expert, Magnetic Sensors

How to Program an Inclination Sensor

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Thu, Sep 05, 2013

An inclination sensor measures the incline / tilt angle of the part on which the sensor is mounted. Standard models have both analog and switching output, the limits of which are configurable over a 360-degree range in either one or two axes of rotation. There are also specially optimized models that cover less than 360 degrees and have analog output with fixed limits.

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Topics: Inclination Sensors

Do I need an intrinsically safe (IS) barrier for my sensor?

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Thu, Aug 29, 2013

To answer the question of whether you need to use an isolated barrier device with your sensor, it’s helpful to first answer the following two questions:

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Topics: Inductive Sensors, Capacitive Sensors, Intrinsic Safety Barriers, Intrinsic Safety

Electronic Sensor Outputs and Wiring Configurations

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Thu, Jul 18, 2013

Electronic sensors with switching output are commonly used to energize loads such as relay coils or PLC inputs, and a variety of sensor output configurations are available to operate in conjunction with these loads.  In this post, we’ll look at the most common standard output types, their wiring, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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Topics: Inductive Sensors, Capacitive Sensors

Selecting the Components of a PCV Data Matrix Positioning System

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Tue, May 21, 2013

What is PCV?

PCV is an absolute linear positioning system.  A continuous band of Data Matrix codes is installed along the application’s travel path. A camera-based read head, typically mounted on the moving part, reads these codes.  Depending on the type of read head, position data is transmitted to the control system using RS485, SSI, or PROFIBUS DP communication.

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Topics: Positioning Systems

Do I Need a Cordset for My Sensor?

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Fri, May 03, 2013

Different sensor connection types

Electronic sensors require connection in order to receive their power and transmit their output.  A connection diagram, included on the sensor’s datasheet and often printed on the device if room allows, labels each available connection point. 

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Topics: Cables/ Cordsets, Sensor Accessories

Understanding Model Number Nomenclature for Industrial Sensors

Posted by Tracy Molnar on Thu, Feb 14, 2013

Decoding inductive, capacitive, and ultrasonic sensor model numbers


Model numbers like those shown above can appear to be a meaningless mixture of letters, numbers, dots, dashes, and other characters, but they are, in reality, quite descriptive, once you get to know them. In this post, you’ll find enough information to crack the code for most inductive, capacitive, and ultrasonic proximity sensor model numbers, and be able to tell the basic features of each sensor listed above.

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Topics: Terminology, Inductive Sensors, Capacitive Sensors, Ultrasonic Sensors

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