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I recently start a project to measure the force on a bathroom grab bar. The force/load is applied by the person who need to the grab bar for assistant. My aim is to do the real-time monitoring of the force and record the data in order to further make decisions in grab bar design.

I am not quite sure about what kind of sensor would be suitable to do the measurement. Right now I am using strain gauge to measure the strain and roughly calculate the force. But I think (might be wrong) there may exists some kind of force/load sensor that can clamp on the bar to do the measurement.

Any sensor types/models or suggestion are welcome.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may get some additional insight from the robotics experts at robotics.stackexchange.com. \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Feb 5 '13 at 20:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I will post the problem to robotics forum as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Purmac Feb 6 '13 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JYelton - Sadly there was no traction on robotics and it wasn't really on topic there anyway, so I migrated it here where it can be closed as a duplicate of this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Booth Feb 8 '13 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose until there's a StackExchange site dedicated to "Sensors and Mechanical Engineering" EE will have to handle it. :) \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Feb 8 '13 at 17:28
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My first knee jerk reaction is to use load cells at the mount points. If you want to measure the direction of the force (down or in/out from the wall), which you probably do, then you probably want two load cells at each mount. One above the other should give you enough information, although this won't include force lateral to the wall.

I don't see how a clamp on sensor could measure the information you seem to want.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Olin, Thanks for you reply. I should rephrase what I want to do. I want to measure the load between the bar and the wall. Thus, I could found out how many screws to secure grab bars. Right now I am measure the strain near the end of grab bar to calculate the load. It may not be accurate and strain sensors need a lot of pre-work to mount. Another thing I am not sure about is how to mount load cells to do this kind of measurement. Any schematics or reference books might be help. \$\endgroup\$ – Purmac Feb 6 '13 at 7:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Purmac: Load cells are basically electronic scales. What you have is a mechanical problem, not a electrical one. For testing, the bar would need to be mounted somehow so only the load cells separate it from the wall at some point. These then measure the force perpendicular to the wall. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Feb 6 '13 at 13:19

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