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Home > Education >Digital Caliper Information

Digital calipers

A refinement now popular is the replacement of the analog dial with an electronic digital display. This version of the caliper allows reading the value directly from a single display. Many digital calipers can be switched between metric and imperial units. All provide for zeroing the display at any point along the slide, allowing the same sort of differential measurements as with the dial caliper but without the need to read numbers that may be upside down. Digital calipers may contain some sort of "reading hold" feature, allowing the reading of dimensions even in awkward locations where the display cannot be seen.
With all of these benefits, digital calipers have by no means replaced the dial caliper. Digital calipers typically do not have the beam structure of a dial or vernier caliper and therefore do not have the repeatability or accuracy to an amateur user. Dial calipers have the potential to last much longer with their repairability.
Increasingly, digital calipers offer a serial data output to allow them to be interfaced with a personal computer. This means measurements can be taken and instantly stored in a spreadsheet or similar piece of software, significantly decreasing the time taken to take and record a series of measurements. The output of non-name brand calipers is usually 24 bit 90 kHz synchronous. A suitable interface to convert the output to RS-232 levels and format can be built or purchased.
Like dial calipers, the slide of a digital caliper can usually be locked using a lever or thumb-screw. Both dial and digital calipers can be used with accessories that extend their usefulness. Examples are a base that extends their usefulness as a depth gauge and a jaw attachment that allows measuring the center distance between holes.
Digital calipers contain a linear encoder. A pattern of bars is etched directly on the Printed circuit board in the slider. Under the scale of the caliper another printed circuit board also contains an etched pattern of lines. The combination of these printed circuit boards forms two variable Capacitors. As the slider moves the capacitance changes in a linear fashion and in a repeating pattern. The two capacitances are out of phase. The circuitry built into the slider counts the bars as the slider moves and does a linear interpolation based on the magnitudes of the capacitors to find the precise position of the slider.