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Pressure Sensors for Blast Testing

Measuring Explosions and Propellant Burns


  • Air Blast Measurement
  • Underwater Explosion Measurement
  • Peak and Total Impulse
  • Explosive Research and Structural Loading

  • Shock Tube or Closed Bomb Testing
  • Wave Velocity and/or Time-of-arrival Determinations
  • Explosive Component (e.g., Squib) Lot Acceptance

Pressure sensors with quartz, ceramic and tourmaline sensing elements are used for a wide variety of shock wave, blast and explosive testing. Typical applications include measurement of shock and blast waves, combustion or detonation in closed bombs, projectile velocity, free field or underwater explosive testing and squib lot acceptance testing. All of these applications require high frequency response and durability, ability to drive long cables and operate in adverse environments.

In applications involving long input cables to data acquisition systems, care must be exercised to assure the measurement system has adequate frequency response. Capacitance associated with the long cables can act as a low pass filter. Sensor output voltage, cable capacitance and constant current are factors to be considered. More current is required to drive higher voltages over longer cables. PCB® signal conditioners can be easily field-adjusted to provide up to 20 mA to drive long cables. Selecting a sensor to provide about 1 V full scale for the expected pressure to be measured, rather than 5V, will provide 5 times greater frequency response for a given current and cable length.

Most of the sensors listed in this section incorporate integral electronics and acceleration-compensating sensing elements, which provide a frequency-tailored, non-resonant response. Frequency tailored sensors have microsecond rise time and suppressed resonance to faithfully follow shock wave events without the characteristic “ringing” common in other sensors.

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