Clinometers are instruments used to measure the angle from a vertical, a measure that is generally expressed in degrees. This type of device is used in areas as different as meteorology, geography, engineering, the medical industry, or airplanes’ instrumentation. There are mechanical or electronic sensors, and they can be highly accurate. This article will explain what they are, what types of clinometers exist, what they are used for, and how to use clinometer.
WHAT IS CLINOMETER?
A clinometer is an instrument for measuring inclination or slope. Its name comes from the Greek Klincin, which means incline and metron, which refers to measure. It may also be known as an inclinometer, gradiometer, clisimeter, or clinoscope.
How to use a clinometer?
This type of tool measures the angle of a slope of an object concerning gravity. That is, it measures the vertical angle of a slope. This slope can be an elevation or be positive if the observer is looking up. Also, it can be a depression or be negative if the observation is made looking down.
Therefore, it is also known as a tilt sensor, meter or indicator, as an alert or slope meter, as a gradient meter or indicator and as a level meter. The first clinometers used systems of weights to calculate height and slope. Currently, most clinometers use electronic sensors with which a higher level of precision is obtained.
For example, some have an accelerometer built in to measure the slope of the slope concerning Earth’s plane.
There are different types of clinometers on the market. They differ in the technology they use and the accuracy they can provide in the records that are made.
Thus, a given clinometer’s absolute precision is the combined total error of the instrument’s sensitivity and compensation conditions.
In general, this error can vary between ± 2 ° to 0.01 °, depending on the measurement conditions and the sensitivity of the clinometer.
At best, the most advanced clinometers can have an output resolution of 0.0001 ° and work with electronic sensors. The elements most used in the construction of clinometers are the graduated arc, the pendulum, the accelerometer, the compass, capacitive liquid and the gyroscope. Tilt measurement results can be expressed in degrees, percent, or both, depending on the clinometer model used.
PENDULUM CLINOMETER OR SIMPLE INCLINOMETER
It is one of the most traditional. They can even be built by hand. It is a graduated arch, like a protractor, which has a built-in weight that functions as a pendulum.
A straight line sight is drawn using the top of the graduated arc and the weight-bearing line will indicate the steepness of the observed slope. It is generally used for large measurements where too much precision is not necessary.
Optical clinometers have a higher level of precision than the previous one. They are characterized by being a small tool, easy to transport and use.
The measurement is made by looking through a viewfinder and aligning the gaze with the object’s point to be measured, such as an “X” point on the top of a tree or a measuring stick.
When the measurement line of the optical clinometer has been aligned with the measurement mark, then the degree and percentage of the observed object’s inclination can be known.
It allows you to quickly know the height of trees, which is why they are widely used by forestry personnel. However, its practicality when measuring inclination makes it used by a wide spectrum of professions.
DIGITAL CLINOMETER (WITH AND WITHOUT LASER)
These devices are also known as digital protractors. They are convenient to transport and very easy to use. They generally have a magnetic base to adhere to surfaces and perform the measurement. They have a digital display that shows the measurement results in degrees and percent.
Clisimeter with display
It is used a lot in workshops. Therefore, when you want to use it outdoors and thus measure slopes, these clinometers have a variation: the incorporation of a laser or pointer. This makes it easy to make the straight line between the clinometer and the object’s mark whose inclination you want to measure.
CLINOSCOPE WITH COMPASS
This type of clinometer adds a compass to its operation, in most cases of the lensatic type. In this type of device, the gradiometer is based on a graduated arc expressed both in percentage and degrees to provide information on the inclination.
It has a small pendulum that, when turning the clinometer, will mark the angle of the slope, as well as a leveler. The more level the clinometer is, the better the measurement. They provide greater precision than simple clinometers, although they also require more experience to use.
CLYSIMETER WITH ACCELEROMETER
As its name suggests, it is a clinometer to which an accelerometer is attached to increase its precision. In this way, it is possible to reduce external factors such as accelerations or slight movements during data collection that may affect the measurement’s accuracy.
Thus, the accelerometer captures these slight external influences that can distort the measurement result and generates an offset of the opposite sign in the measurement result.
CLINOMETER WITH GYROSCOPE
These types of clinometers usually incorporate both an accelerometer and a gyroscope, achieving even greater precision in the measurement. The idea is to minimize the influence of external factors such as vibrations or movements. The gyroscope inclinometer is one of the best options when looking for high precision in the data obtained.