A Tachometer is a sensor device that is utilized in many applications ranging from power generation to aerospace operations, capable of measuring the speed of rotating objects as they revolve. Generally, tachometers are used for the measurement of shafts and disks that are a part of a motor vehicle engine or industrial machine. As the speed of revolution is tested, tachometers will provide a measurement in the form of “revolutions per minute” (RPM).
While a tachometer may vary in its construction based on how advanced the sensor device is, most will consist of a dial, needle, and measurement markings. The needle will typically move across the dial as measurements are made, pointing at various markings that are placed on the device. Typically, the markings will range from low to high, those of which indicate safe and dangerous levels of rotational speed.
When used for a motor vehicle, as an example, a tachometer will provide measurements of engine shaft or motor speed. These measurements are crucial as they allow the motor vehicle’s driver to track rotational speed for the means of optimally changing throttle and gears to meet present driving conditions. Another important part of engine shaft rotation speed measurements is to guarantee sufficient lubrication for the vehicle as well. If the engine runs under prolonged speeds for a significant amount of time with little lubrication, the engine may lose performance or begin to break down.
Tachometers also serve an important role in aviation, utilized for measuring the RPM of the aircraft engine. As many aircraft often feature more than one engine, there needs to be one tachometer per engine. Tachometers are especially advantageous for piston powered aircraft, due to the fact that the engines need to run at a speed that is faster than the propellers. In such instances, the tachometer will actually be used to indicate the speed of the crankshaft. Within a gas turbine engine, on the other hand, tachometers may find use within the compressor and other areas. Helicopters and other rotary-wing aircraft also implement tachometers within their assemblies, those of which measure the RPM of the main rotor shaft.
Depending on the application, many tachometer devices come in the form of mechanical and electrical types. Within an aircraft, mechanical tachometers are used where there is a small distance between the engine and instrument panel. As a result, they are typically found on smaller, single-engine light aircraft. With an indicator attached to the engine by a drive shaft, the shaft will turn alongside the engine. Within the indicator is also a flyweight assembly that is mounted to a gear mechanism, allowing for the pointer to be driven to display RPM values.
If the engine is farther away from the instrument panel, then an electric tachometer may be a better fit. With such devices, increased accuracy is provided while also minimizing the amount of maintenance that is required. As there are many different types of electric tachometers that one may procure, one should always follow manufacturer specifications to make a decision.
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