Skip to main content

Test and instrumentation glossary of terms

This handy reference of commonly used terms will help you navigate and understand the complexities of the test and instrumentation industry.

Test instrumentation image

Absolute pressure

Gage pressure plus atmospheric pressure.

Absolute zero

Temperature at which thermal energy is at a minimum. Defined as 0 Kelvin, calculated to be -273.15°C or -459.67°F.


Alternating current; an electric current that reverses its direction at regularly recurring intervals.


A change in the velocity of a body or particle with respect to time. The parameter that an accelerometer measures (dv/dt). Units expressed in “g”.


A device which converts the effects of mechanical motion into an electrical signal that is proportional to the acceleration value of the motion. A sensor. A transducer.


The closeness of an indication or reading of a measurement device to the actual value of the quantity being measured. Usually expressed as ± percent of full scale output or reading.


The degree of sound. The nature, cause, and phenomena of the vibrations of elastic bodies; which vibrations create compressional waves or wave fronts which are transmitted through various media, such as air, water, wood, steel, etc.

Activity (ai)

A thermodynamic term for the apparent or active concentration of a free ion in solution. It is related to concentration by the activity coefficient.

Activity coefficient (fi)

A ratio of the activity of species i(ai) to its molality (C). It is a correction factor which makes the thermodynamic calculations correct. This factor is dependent on ionic strength, temperature, and other parameters.

Individual ionic activity coefficients, f+ for cation and f- for an anion, cannot be derived thermodynamically. They can be calculated only by using the Debye-Huckel law for low concentration solutions in which the interionic forces depend primarily on charge, radius, and distribution of the ions and on the dielectric constant of the medium rather than on the chemical properties of the ions.

Mean ionic activity coefficient (f±) or the activity of a salt, on the other hand, can be measured by a variety of techniques such as freezing point depression and vapor pressure as well as paired sensing electrodes. It is the geometric mean of the individual ionic activity coefficients: f± = (f+n+f-n-)1/n.


A mechanism or device for attaching non-mating parts.

ADC –Analog-to-digital converter

An electronic device which converts analog signals to an equivalent digital form, in either a binary code or a binary-coded-decimal code. When used for dynamic waveforms, the sampling rate must be high to prevent aliasing errors from occurring.


The label or number identifying the memory location where a unit of information is stored.


If the sample rate of a function (fs) is less than two times the highest frequency value of the function, the frequency is ambiguously presented. The frequencies above (fs/2) will be folded back into the lower frequencies producing erroneous data.

Alloy 11

A compensating alloy used in conjunction with pure copper as the negative leg to form extension wire for platinum-platinum rhodium thermocouples Types R and S.

Alloy 200/226

The combination of compensating alloys used with tungsten vs. tungsten 26% rhenium thermocouples as extension cable for applications under 200°C.

Alloy 203/225

The combination of compensating alloys used with tungsten 3% rhenium vs. tungsten 150 rhenium thermocouples as extension cable for applications under 200°C.

Alloy 405/426

The combination of compensating alloys used with tungsten 5% rhenium vs. tungsten 26% rhenium thermocouples as extension cable for applications under 870°C.


An aluminum nickel alloy used in the negative leg of a type K thermocouple (registered trademarks of OMEGA ENGINEERING, INC.).


A character set that contains both letters and digits.

ALU – Arithmetic logic unit

The part of a CPU where binary data is acted upon with mathematical operations.


An aluminum nickel alloy used in the negative leg of a Type K thermocouple (Trade name of Hoskins Manufacturing Company).

Ambient compensation

The design of an instrument such that changes in ambient temperature do not affect the readings of the instrument.

Ambient conditions

The conditions around the transducer (pressure, temperature, etc.).

Ambient pressure

Pressure of the air surrounding a transducer.

Ambient temperature

The average or mean temperature of the surrounding air which comes in contact with the equipment and instruments under test.


An instrument used to measure current.

Ampere (amp)

A unit used to define the rate of flow of electricity (current) in a circuit; units are one coulomb (6.28 x 1018 electronics) per second.


A device which draws power from a source other than the input signal and which produces as an output an enlarged reproduction of the essential features of its input.

Amplitude span

The Y-axis range of a graphic display of data in either the time or frequency domain. Usually a log display (dB) but can also be linear.


A measurement of the distance from the highest to the lowest excursion of motion, as in the case of mechanical body in oscillation or the peak-to-peak swing of an electrical waveform.

Analog output

A voltage or current signal that is a continuous function of the measured parameter.

Analog-to-digital converter (A/D or ADC)

A device or circuit that outputs a binary number corresponding to an analog signal level at the input.


An instrument for measuring and/or indicating the velocity of air flow.


Ten to the minus tenth meters (10-10) or one millimicron, a unit used to define the wave length of light. Designated by the symbol ‰.

Angular frequency

The motion of a body or a point moving circularly, referred to as the circular frequency O which is the frequency in cycles per second (cps) multiplied by the term (2) and expressed in radians per second (2pf).


A negatively charged ion (Cl-, NO3-, S2- etc.).


American National Standards Institute.

Anti-reset windup

This is a feature in a three-mode PID controller which prevents the integral (auto reset) circuit from functioning when the temperature is outside the proportional band.

Application program

A computer program that accomplishes specific tasks, such as word processing.


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A seven or eight bit code used to represent alphanumeric characters. It is the standard code used for communications between data processing systems and associated equipment.


American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


A program that translates assembly language instructions into machine language instructions.

Assembly language

A machine oriented language in which mnemonics are used to represent each machine language instruction. Each CPU has its own specific assembly language.


American Society for Testing and Materials.

Asymmetry potential

The potential developed across the glass membrane with identical solutions on both sides. Also a term used when comparing glass electrode potential in pH 7 buffer.


A communication method where data is sent when it is ready without being referenced to a timing clock, rather than waiting until the receiver signals that it is ready to receive.


Automatic temperature compensation.


An automatic internal correction for offsets and/or drift at zero voltage input.

Automatic reset

1. A feature on a limit controller that automatically resets the controller when the controlled temperature returns to within the limit bandwidth set.

2. The integral function on a PID controller which adjusts the proportional bandwidth with respect to the set point to compensate for droop in the circuit, i.e., adjusts the controlled temperature to a set point after the system stabilizes.


American Wire Gage.

Axis of Rotation (Spin Axis)

The axis of rotation (spin axis) is that straight line about which a body rotates.

Background noise

The total noise floor from all sources of interference in a measurement system, independent of the presence of a data signal.


A system, device, file or facility that can be used as an alternative in case of a malfunction or loss of data.


A symmetrical region around the set point in which proportional control occurs.

Basic transportation reference

The basic transportation section of the U.S. Government Test Specification MIL-STD-810D, Method 514.3, Paragraph I-3.2.1, Page 514.3-5. Basic transportation defines the test profiles that have been defined for equipment that is shipped as secured cargo; by land, by sea or by air. The test levels are based upon land transport stress levels because these are higher than stresses imposed by air or sea transportation environments.


A high-level programming language designed at Dartmouth College as a learning tool. Acronym for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.


A unit of data transmission speed equal to the number of bits (or signal events) per second; 300 baud = 300 bits per second.

BCD, buffered

Binary-coded decimal output with output drivers, to increase line-drive capability.

BCD, parallel

A digital data output format where every decimal digit is represented by binary signals on four lines and all digits are presented in parallel. The total number of lines is 4 times the number of decimal digits.

BCD, serial

A digital data output format where every decimal digit is represented by binary signals on four lines and up to five decimal digits are presented sequentially. The total number of lines is four data lines plus one strobe line per digit.

BCD, three-state

An implementation of parallel BCD, which has 0, 1 and high-impedance output states. The high-impedance state is used when the BCD output is not addressed in parallel connect applications.


A part which supports a journal and in which a journal revolves.

Beat frequency

Beat frequencies are periodic vibrations that result from the addition and subtraction of two or more sinusoids. For example, in the case of two turbine aircraft engines that are rotating at nearly the same frequency but not precisely at the same frequency; Four frequencies are generated:(f1) the rotational frequency of turbine one, (f2) the rotational frequency of turbine two, (f1 + f2) the sum of turbine rotational frequencies one and two, and (f1 – f2) which is the difference or “beat” frequency of turbines one and two. The difference of the two frequencies is the lower frequency and is the one that is “felt” as a beat or “wow” in this case.


BeO (Beryllium Oxide) A high-temperature mineral insulation material; toxic when in powder form.

Best fit straight line (BFSL)

A line midway between two parallel straight lines enclosing all output vs. pressure values.

Beta ratio

The ratio of the diameter of a pipeline constriction to the unconstricted pipe diameter.

BIAS current

A very low-level DC current generated by the panel meter and superimposed on the signal. This current may introduce a measurable offset across a very high source impedance.

Binary coded decimal (BCD)

The representation of a decimal number (base 10, 0 through 9) by means of a 4 bit binary nibble.


Refers to base 2 numbering system, in which the only allowable digits are 0 and 1. Pertaining to a condition that has only two possible values or states.


Acronym for basic input/output system. The commands used to tell a CPU how it will communicate with the rest of the computer.


The ability of a panel meter to display both positive and negative readings.


Acronym for binary digit. The smallest unit of computer information, it is either a binary 0 or 1.


A theoretical object that radiates the maximum amount of energy at a given temperature, and absorbs all the energy incident upon it. A blackbody is not necessarily black. (The name blackbody was chosen because the color black is defined as the total absorption of light energy).


A quick disconnect electrical connector used to inter-connect and/or terminate coaxial cables.

Boiling point

The temperature at which a substance in the liquid phase transforms to the gaseous phase; commonly refers to the boiling point of water which is 100°C (212°F) at sea level.


Bits per second.

Breakdown voltage rating

The DC or AC voltage which can be applied across insulation portions of a transducer without arcing or conduction above a specific current value.

Bridge resistance

See input impedance and output impedance.


British thermal units. The quantity of thermal energy required to raise one pound of water at its maximum density, 1 degree F. One BTU is equivalent to .293 watt hours, or 252 calories. One kilowatt hour is equivalent to 3412 BTU.

Buffer capacity (B)

A measure of the ability of the solution to resist pH change when a strong acid or base is added.


1. A storage area for data that is used to compensate for a speed difference, when transferring data from one device to another. Usually refers to an area reserved for I/O operations, into which data is read, or from which data is written.

2. Any substance or combination of substances which, when dissolved in water, produces a solution which resists a change in its hydrogen ion concentration on the addition of an acid or alkali.

Bulb (liquid-in-glass thermometer)

The area at the tip of a liquid-in-glass thermometer containing the liquid reservoir.


A long term screening test (either vibration, temperature or combined test) that is effective in weeding out infant mortalities because it simulates actual or worst case operation of the device, accelerated through a time, power, and temperature relationship.

Burst pressure

The maximum pressure applied to a transducer sensing element or case without causing leakage.

Burst proportioning

A fast-cycling output form on a time proportioning controller (typically adjustable from 2 to 4 seconds) used in conjunction with a solid state relay to prolong the life of heaters by minimizing thermal stress.


Parallel lines used to transfer signals between devices or components. Computers are often described by their bus structure (i.e., S-100, IBM PC).
Byte: The representation of a character in binary. Eight bits.

Calender-van Dusen equation

An equation that defines the resistance-temperature value of any pure metal that takes the form of RT = RO(1 + AT + BT2) for values between the ice point (0°C) and the freezing point of antimony (630.7°C) and the form RT = RO[1 + AT + BT2 + C(T-100)T2] between the oxygen point (–183.0°C) and the ice point (0°C).


The process of adjusting an instrument or compiling a deviation chart so that its reading can be correlated to the actual value being measured.


The quantity of thermal energy required to raise one gram of water 1°C at 15°C.


A positively charged ion (Na+, H+).


The boiling of a liquid caused by a decrease in pressure rather than an increase in temperature.

Celsius (centrigrade)

A temperature scale defined by 0°C at the ice point and 100°C at boiling point of water at sea level.

Center of gravity (mass center)

The center of gravity of a body is that point in the body through which passes the resultant of weights of its component particles for all orientations of the body with respect to a uniform gravitational field.

Centripetal force

A force exerted on an object moving in a circular path which is exerted inward toward the center of rotation.

Ceramic insulation

High-temperature compositions of metal oxides used to insulate a pair of thermocouple wires The most common are Alumina (Al2O3), Beryllia (BeO), and Magnesia (MgO). Their application depends upon temperature and type of thermocouple. High-purity alumina is required for platinum alloy thermocouples. Ceramic insulators are available as single and multihole tubes or as beads.


Polycrystalline ferroelectric materials which are used as the sensing units in piezoelectric accelerometers. There are many different grades, all of which can be made in various configurations to satisfy different design requirements.


The volumetric flow rate of a liquid or gas in cubic feet per minute.


A letter, digit or other symbol that is used as the representation of data. A connected sequence of characters is called a character string.

Charge sensitivity

For accelerometers that are rated in terms of charge sensitivity, the output voltage (V)is proportional to the charge (Q) divided by the shunt capacitance (C). This type of accelerometer is characterized by a high output impedance. The sensitivity is given in terms of charge; picocoulombs per unit of acceleration (g).
Chatter: The rapid cycling on and off of a relay in a control process due to insufficient bandwidth in the controller.


A chromium-nickel alloy which makes up the positive leg of type K and type E thermocouples (registered trademarks of OMEGA ENGINEERING, INC.).


To restore a device to a prescribed initial state, usually the zero state.


The term applied to the phenomenon which occurs when an output signal is limited in some way by the full range of an amplifier, ADC or other device. When this occurs, the signal is flattened at the peak values, the signal approaches the shape of a square wave, and high frequency components are introduced. Clipping may be hard, as is the case when the signal is strictly limited at some level; or it may be soft, in which case the clipping signal continues to follow the input at some reduced gain.


The device that generates periodic signals for synchronization.

Closeness of control

Total temperature variation from a desired set point of system. Expressed as “closeness of control” is ±2°C or a system bandwidth with 4°C, also referred to as amplitude of deviation.

CMR (Common-mode rejection)

The ability of a panel meter to eliminate the effect of AC or DC noise between signal and ground. Normally expressed in dB at dc to 60 Hz. One type of CMR is specified between SIG LO and PWR GND. In differential meters, a second type of CMR is specified between SIG LO and ANA GND (METER GND).

CMV (Common-mode voltage)

The AC or DC voltage which is tolerable between signal and ground. One type of CMV is specified between SIG LO and PWR GND. In differential meters, a second type of CMV is specified between SIG HI or LO and ANA GND (METER GND).

Coherence function

A frequency domain function computed to show the degree of a linear, noise-free relationship between a system’s input and output. The value of the coherence function ranges between zero and one, where a value of zero indicates there is no causal relationship between the input and the output. A value of one indicates the existence of linear noise-free frequency response between the input and the output.

Color code

The ANSI established color code for thermocouple wires in the negative lead is always red. Color Code for base metal thermocouples is yellow for Type K, black for Type J, purple for Type E and blue for Type T.

Common-mode rejection ratio

The ability of an instrument to reject interference from a common voltage at its input terminals with relation to ground. Usually expressed in db (decibels).

Common mode

The output form or type of control action used by a temperature controller to control temperature, i.e. on/off, time proportioning, PID.


Transmission and reception of data among data processing equipment and related peripherals.

Compensated connector

A connector made of thermocouple alloys used to connect thermocouple probes and wires.

Compensating alloys

Alloys used to connect thermocouples to instrumentation. These alloys are selected to have similar thermal electric properties as the thermocouple alloys (however, only over a very limited temperature range).

Compensating loop

Lead wire resistance compensation for RTD elements where an extra length of wire is run from the instrument to the RTD and back to the instrument, with no connection to the RTD.


An addition of specific materials or devices to counteract a known error.


A program that translates a high-level language, such as Basic, into machine language.

Complex function

Any mathematically defined relationship given by the following expression:

y(x) = a(x) + ib(x)

Where: x = the real variable

a(x) = the real part of y(x)

b(x) = the imaginary part of y(x)

Complex functions are usually expressed in terms of both their amplitude and phase.

Complex wave

The resultant form of a number of sinusoidal waves that are summed together forming a periodic wave. Such waves may be analyzed in the frequency domain to readily determine their component parts.


The measure of the ability of a solution to carry an electrical current. (See equivalent conductance).


The conveying of electrical energy or heat through or by means of a conductor.

Confidence level

The range (with a specified value of uncertainty, usually expressed in percent) within which the true value of a measured quantity exists.

Conformity error

For thermocouples and RTDs, the difference between the actual reading and the temperature shown in published tables for a specific voltage input.

Connection head

An enclosure attached to the end of a thermocouple which can be cast iron, aluminum or plastic within which the electrical connections are made.


A copper-nickel alloy used as the negative lead in Type E, Type J, and Type T thermocouples.

Continuous spectrum

A frequency spectrum that is characterized by non-periodic data The spectrum is continuous in the frequency domain and is characterized by an infinite number of frequency components.

Control character

A character whose occurrence in a particular context starts, modifies or stops an operation that effects the recording, processing, transmission or interpretation of data.

Control mode

The output form or type of control action used by a temperature controller to control temperature, i.e., on/off, time proportioning, PID.

Control point

The temperature at which a system is to be maintained.


1. The circulatory motion that occurs in a fluid at a non-uniform temperature owing to the variation of its density and the action of gravity.

2. The transfer of heat by this automatic circulation of fluid.

Coriolis force

A result of centripetal force on a mass moving with a velocity radially outward in a rotating plane.

Correction (balancing) plane

A plane perpendicular to the shaft axis of a rotor in which correction for unbalance is made.

Coulomb sensitivity

Charge/unit acceleration, expressed in Pc/g (charge sensitivity).


A measurement of the quantity of electrical charge, usually expressed as pico coulomb (10-12 coulombs).

Counter weight

A weight added to a body so as to reduce a calculated unbalance at a desired place.


The number of time intervals counted by the dual-slope A/D converter and displayed as the reading of the panel meter, before addition of the decimal point.


Cycles per second; the rate or number of periodic events in one second, expressed in Hertz (Hz).


Central processing unit. The part of the computer that contains the circuits that control and perform the execution of computer instructions.

Critical damping

Critical damping is the smallest amount of damping at which a given system is able to respond to a step function without overshoot.

Critical speed

The rotational speed of the rotor or rotating element at which resonance occurs in the system. The shaft speed at which at least one of the “critical” or natural frequencies of a shaft is excited.


Measurement of temperature at extremely low values, i.e., below –200°C.


Canadian Standards Administration.

Cure point

The temperature at which a normally magnetic material goes through a magnetic transformation and becomes non-magnetic.

Current proportioning

An output form of a temperature controller which provides a current proportional to the amount of control required. Normally is a 4 to 20 milliamp current proportioning band.


The rate of flow of electricity. The unit of the ampere (A) defined as 1 ampere = 1 coulomb per second.

Curve fitting

Curve fitting is the process of computing the coefficients of a function to approximate the values of a given data set within that function. The approximation is called a “fit”. A mathematical function, such as a least squares regression, is used to judge the accuracy of the fit.

Cycle time

The time usually expressed in seconds for a controller to complete one on/off cycle.


The reduction of vibratory movement through dissipation of energy. Types include viscous, coulomb, and solid.

Data base

A large amount of data stored in a well-organized manner. A data base management system (DBMS) is a program that allows access to the information.

dB (decibel)

20 times the log to the base 10 of the ratio of two voltages. Every 20dBs correspond to a voltage ratio of 10, every 10dBs to a voltage ratio of 3.162. For instance, a CMR of 120dB provides voltage noise rejection of 1,000,000/1. An NMR of 70dB provides voltage noise rejection of 3,162/1.


Direct current; an electric current flowing in one direction only and substantially constant in value.

Dead band

1. For chart records: the minimum change of input signal required to cause a deflection in the pen position.

2. For temperature controllers: the temperature band where heat is turned off upon rising temperature and turned on upon falling temperature expressed in degrees. The area where no heating (or cooling) takes place.

Dead volume

The volume of the pressure port of a transducer at room temperature and ambient barometric pressure.


To find and correct mistakes in a program.

Debye-H¸ckel equation

Used in relating the activity coefficient (fi) to ion strength (see Activity coefficient):where I is the ionic strength, A and B the temperature-dependent constants (see Table A.5), Zi the valence of the ion (i), and  the ion-size parameter in angstroms.


Refers to a base ten number system using the characters 0 through 9 to represent values.


The value(s) or option(s) that are assumed during operation when not specified.


An incremental value in the temperature scale, i.e., there are 100 degrees between the ice point and the boiling point of water in the Celsius scale and 180°F between the same two points in the Fahrenheit scale.


Mass per unit of volume of a substance. I.E.: grams/ or pounds/cu.ft.


The derivative function senses the rate of rise or fall of the system temperature and automatically adjusts the cycle time of the controller to minimize overshoot or undershoot.


The difference between the value of the controlled variable and the value at which it is being controlled.


The sensing element consisting of a membrane which is deformed by the pressure differential applied across it.

Dielectric constant

Related to the force of attraction between two opposite charges separated by a distance in a uniform medium.

Differential input

A signal-input circuit where SIG LO and SIG HI are electrically floating with respect to ANALOG GND (METER GND, which is normally tied to DIG GND). This allows the measurement of the voltage difference between two signals tied to the same ground and provides superior common-mode noise rejection.

Differential pressure

The difference in static pressure between two identical pressure taps at the same elevation located in two different locations in a primary device.


For an on/off controller, it refers to the temperature difference between the temperature at which the controller turns heat off and the temperature at which the heat is turned back on. It is expressed in degrees.


A measure of the display span of a panel meter. By convention, a full digit can assume any value from 0 through 9, a 1/2-digit will display a 1 and overload at 2, a 3/4-digit will display digits up to 3 and overload at 4, etc. For example, a meter with a display span of ±3999 counts is said to be a 3-3/4 digit meter.

Digital output

An output signal which represents the size of an input in the form of a series of discrete quantities.

Digital-to-analog converter (D/A or DAC)

A device or circuit to convert a digital value to an analog signal level.

DIN (Deutsche Industrial Norm)

A set of German standards recognized throughout the world. The 1/8 DIN standard for panel meters specifies an outer bezel dimension of 96 x 48mm and a panel cutout of 92 x 45mm.

DIN 43760

The standard that defines the characteristics of a 100 ohm platinum RTD having a resistance vs. temperature curve specified by a = 0.00385 ohms per degree.

Discharge time constant

The time required for the output-voltage from a sensor or system to discharge 37% of its original value in response to a zero rise time step function input. This parameter determines a low frequency response.

Disk Operating System (DOS)

Program used to control the transfer of information to and from a disk, such as MS DOS.


The measured distance traveled by a point from its position at rest. Peak to peak displacement is the total measured movement of a vibrating point between its positive and negative extremes. Measurement units expressed as inches or millinches.

Dissipation constant

The ratio for a thermistor which relates a change in internal power dissipation to a resultant change of body temperature.

Dissociation constant (K)

A value which quantitatively expresses the extent to which a substance dissociates in solution. The smaller the value of K, the less dissociation of the species in solution. This value varies with temperature, ionic strength, and the nature of the solvent.


Acronym direct memory access. A high speed data storage mode of the IBM PC.

Double precision

The degree of accuracy that requires two computer words to represent a number. Numbers are stored with 17 digits of accuracy and printed with up to 16 digits.


A change of a reading or a set point value over long periods due to several factors including change in ambient temperature, time, and line voltage.


A common occurrence in time-proportional controllers. It refers to the difference in temperature between the set point and where the system temperature actually stabilizes due to the time-proportioning action of the controller.

Dual element sensor

A sensor assembly with two independent sensing elements.

Dual-slope A/D converter

An analog-to-digital converter which integrates the signal for a specific time, then counts time intervals for a reference voltage to bring the integrated signal back to zero. Such converters provide high resolution at low cost, excellent normal-mode noise rejection, and minimal dependence on circuit elements.

Duplex wire

A pair of wires insulated from each other and with an outer jacket of insulation around the inner insulated pair.


Pertaining to simultaneous two-way independent data communication transmission in both direction. Same as “full duplex”.

Duty cycle

The total time to one on/off cycle. Usually refers to the on/off cycle time of a temperature controller.

Dynamic (two-plane) balancing machine

A dynamic balancing machine is a centrifugal balancing machine that furnishes information for performing two-plane balancing.

Dynamic calibration

Calibration in which the input varies over a specific length of time and the output is recorded vs. time.

Dynamic pressure

The difference in pressure levels from static pressure to stagnation pressure caused by an increase in velocity. Dynamic pressure increases by the square of the velocity.

Dynamic unbalance

Dynamic unbalance is that condition in which the central principal axis is not coincident with the shaft axis.


To reflect received data to the sender. For example, keys depressed on a keyboard are usually echoed as characters displayed on the screen.

Electrical interference

Electrical noise induced upon the signal wires that obscures the wanted information signal.

Electrode potential (E)

The difference in potential established between an electrode and a solution when the electrode is immersed in the solution.


See Isopotential point.


Any substance which, when in solution will conduct an electric current. Acids, bases, and salts are common electrolytes.

Electromotive force (emf)

The potential difference between the two electrodes in a cell. The cell emf is the cell voltage measured when no current is flowing through the cell. It can be measured by means of a pH meter with high input impedance.

Electronic Industries Association (EIA)

A standards organization specializing in the electrical and functional characteristics of interface equipment.


Electromotive force. A rise in (electrical) potential energy. The principal unit is the volt.


Electromagnetic interference.


The ratio of energy emitted by an object to the energy emitted by a blackbody at the same temperature. The emissivity of an object depends upon its material and surface texture; a polished metal surface can have an emissivity around 0.2 and a piece of wood can have an emissivity around 0.95.

End point (Potentiometric)

The apparent equivalence point of a titration at which a relatively large potential change is observed.

End points

The end points of a full scale calibration curve.


Absorbs heat. A process is said to be endothermic when it absorbs heat.


The sum of the internal energy of a body and the product of its volume multiplied by the pressure.

Environmental conditions

All conditions in which a transducer may be exposed during shipping, storage, handling, and operation.

Eprom – Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory

The PROM can be erased by ultraviolet light or electricity.

Equilibrium constant

The product of the concentrations (or activities) of the substances produced at equilibrium in a chemical reaction divided by the product of concentrations of the reacting substances, each concentration raised to that power which is the coefficient of the substance in the chemical equation.


Equal diffusion rates of the positively and negatively charged ions of an electrolyte across a liquid junction without charge separation.

Equivalent conductance (I)

Equivalent conductance of an electrolyte is defined as the conductance of a volume of solution containing one equivalent weight of dissolved substances when placed between two parallel electrodes 1 cm apart, and large enough to contain between them all of the solution. l is never determined directly, but is calculated from the specific conductance (Ls). If C is the concentration of a solution in gram equivalents per liter, then the concentration of a solution in gram equivalents per liter, then the concentration per cubic centimeter is C/1000, and the volume containing one equivalent of the solute, is, therefore, 1000/C.

Error band

The allowable deviations to output from a specific reference norm. Usually expressed as a percentage of full scale.


The difference between the value indicated by the transducer and the true value of the measurand being sensed. Usually expressed in percent of full scale output.

Eutectic temperature

The lowest possible melting point of a mixture of alloys.


The external application of electrical voltage current applied to a transducer for normal operation.


Gives off heat. A process is said to be exothermic when it releases heat.

Expansion factor

Correction factor for the change in density between two pressure measurement areas in a constricted flow.

Explosion-proof enclosure

An enclosure that can withstand an explosion of gases within it and prevent the explosion of gases surrounding it due to sparks, flashes or the explosion of the container itself, and maintain an external temperature which will not ignite the surrounding gases.

Exposed junction

A form of construction of a thermocouple probe where the hot or measuring junction protrudes beyond the sheath material so as to be fully exposed to the medium being measured. This form of construction usually gives the fastest response time.


A temperature scale defined by 32° at the ice point and 212° at the boiling point of water at sea level.


A compressible tubular fitting that is compressed onto a probe inside a compression fitting to form a gas-tight seal.

Field balancing equipment

An assembly of measuring instruments for performing balancing operations on assembled machinery which is not mounted in a balancing machine.

Field of view

A volume in space defined by an angular cone extending from the focal plane of an instrument.


A set of related records or data treated as a unit.

Filling solution

A solution of defined composition to make contact between an internal element and a membrane or sample. The solution sealed inside a pH glass bulb is called an internal filling solution. This solution normally contains a buffered chloride solution to provide a stable potential and a designated zero potential point. The solution which surrounds the reference electrode internal and periodically requires replenishing is called the reference filling solution. It provides contact between the reference electrode internal and sample through a junction.


Programs stored in PROMs.


Any of various types of indicators used for identification of a condition or event; for example, a character that signals the termination of a transmission.

Floppy disk

A small, flexible disk carrying a magnetic medium in which digital data is stored for later retrieval and use.

Flow rate

Actual speed or velocity of fluid movement.


Travel of liquids or gases in response to a force (i.e. pressure or gravity).


A device used for measuring the flow or quantity of a moving fluid.

FM approved

An instrument that meets a specific set of specifications established by Factory Mutual Research Corporation.

FM Factory Mutual Research Corporation

An organization which sets industrial safety standards.

Forced vibration

Vibration of a system caused by an imposed force. Steady-state vibration is an unchanging condition of periodic or random motion.

FORTRAN – formula translation language

A widely used high-level programming language well suited to problems that can be expressed in terms of algebraic formulas. It is generally used in scientific applications.


Flow velocity in feet per minute.


Flow velocity in feet per second.

Freezing point

The temperature at which the substance goes from the liquid phase to the solid phase.

Frequency modulated output

A transducer output which is obtained in the form of a deviation from a center frequency, where the deviation is proportional to the applied stimulus.

Frequency of vibration

The number of cycles occurring in a given unit of time. RPM – revolutions per minute. CPM- cycles per minute.

Frequency output

An output in the form of frequency which varies as a function of the applied input.

Frequency, natural

The frequency of free (not forced) oscillations of the sensing element of a fully assembled transducer.


The number of cycles over a specified time period over which an event occurs. The reciprocal is called the period.

Full bridge

A Wheatstone bridge configuration utilizing four active elements or strain gauges.

Full scale output

The algebraic difference between the minimum output and maximum output.


Three mode PID controller. A time proportioning controller with integral and derivative functions. The integral function automatically adjusts the system temperature to the set point temperature to eliminate droop due to the time proportioning function.


The force of acceleration due to gravity equal to 32.1739 ft/sec2 or 386 in./sec2.

Gage factor

A measure of the ratio of the relative change of resistance to the relative change in length of a piezoresistive strain gauge.

Gage length

The distance between two points where the measurement of strain occurs.

Gage pressure transducer

A transducer which measures pressure in relation to the ambient pressure.

Gage pressure

Absolute pressure minus local atmospheric pressure.


The amount of amplification used in an electrical circuit.


An instrument that measures small electrical currents by means of deflecting magnetic coils.


Volumetric flow rate in gallons per hour.


Volumetric flow rate in gallons per minute.


1. The electrical neutral line having the same potential as the surrounding earth.

2. The negative side of DC power supply.

2. Reference point for an electrical system.

Grounded junction

A form of construction of a thermocouple probe where the hot or measuring junction is in electrical contact with the sheath material so that the sheath and thermocouple will have the same electrical potential.

Half bridge

Two active elements or strain gauges.


One way at a time data communication; both devices can transmit and receive data, but only one at a time.


An interface procedure that is based on status/data signals that assure orderly data transfer as opposed to asynchronous exchange.


Output in a permanent form (usually a printout) rather than in temporary form, as on disk or display terminal.


The electrical, mechanical and electromechanical equipment and parts associated with a computing system, as opposed to its firmware or software.

Head loss

The loss of pressure in a flow system measured using a length parameter (i.e., inches of water, inches of mercury).

Head pressure

Pressure in terms of the height of fluid, P = yrg, where r = fluid density and y = the fluid column heights. Expression of a pressure in terms of the height of fluid, r = yrg, where r is fluid density and y = the fluid column height. g = the acceleration of gravity.

Heat sink

1. Thermodynamic: A body which can absorb thermal energy.

2. Practical: A finned piece of metal used to dissipate the heat of solid state components mounted on it.

Heat transfer

The process of thermal energy flowing from a body of high energy to a body of low energy. Means of transfer are: conduction; the two bodies contact. Convection; a form of conduction where the two bodies in contact are of different phases, i.e. solid and gas. Radiation: all bodies emit infrared radiation.

Heat treating

A process for treating metals where heating to a specific temperature and cooling at a specific rate changes the properties of the metal.


Thermal energy. Heat is expressed in units of calories or BTU’s.

Hertz (Hz)

Units in which frequency is expressed. Synonymous with cycles per second.


Refers to a base sixteen number system using the characters 0 through 9 and A through F to represent the values. Machine language programs are often written in hexadecimal notation.


Meter HOLD is an external input which is used to stop the A/D process and freeze the display. BCD HOLD is an external input used to freeze the BCD output while allowing the A/D process to continue operation.

Hooke’s Law

Defines the basis for the measurement of mechanical stresses via the strain measurement. The gradient of Hooke’s line is defined by the ratio of which is equivalent to the Modulus of Elasticity E (Young’s Modulus).


The primary or controlling computer in a multiple part system.

Hydrogen ion activity (aH+)

Activity of the hydrogen ion in solution. Related to hydrogen ion concentration (CH+) by the activity coefficient for hydrogen (f H+).

Hysteresis (electrode memory)

When an electrode system is returned to a solution, equilibrium is usually not immediate. This phenomenon is often observed in electrodes that have been exposed to the other influences such as temperature, light, or polarization.


The difference in output when the measurand value is first approached with increasing and then with decreasing values. Expressed in percent of full scale during any one calibration cycle. See also deadband.


A graphic functional symbol display. A graphic representation of a function or functions to be performed by the computer.

ICP – Integrated circuit piezoelectric

Tterm sometimes used to describe an accelerometer with built-in electronics.


The total opposition to electrical flow (resistive plus reactive).


An area in the electromagnetic spectrum extending beyond red light from 760 nanometers to 1000 microns (106 nm). It is the form of radiation used for making non-contact temperature measurements.

Initial unbalance

Initial unbalance is that unbalance of any kind that exists in the rotor before balancing.

Input impedance

The resistance measured across the excitation terminals of a transducer.

Input resistance (impedance)

The input resistance of a pH meter is the resistance between the glass electrode terminal and the reference electrode terminal. The potential of a pH-measuring electrode chain is always subject to a voltage division between the total electrode resistance and the input resistance.

Insulated junction

See ungrounded junction.

Insulation resistance

The resistance measured between two insulated points on a transducer when a specific dc voltage is applied at room temperature.


A form of temperature control. See automatic reset, #2.

Interchangeability error

A measurement error that can occur if two or more probes are used to make the same measurement. It is caused by a slight variation in characteristics of different probes.


The means by which two systems or devices are connected and interact with each other.

Internal reference electrode (element)

The reference electrode placed internally in a glass electrode.


A system program that converts and executes each instruction of a high-level language program into machine code as it runs, before going onto the next instruction.


To stop a process in such a way that it can be resumed.

Intrinsically safe

An instrument which will not produce any spark or thermal effects under normal or abnormal conditions that will ignite a specified gas mixture.

Ionic mobility

Defined similarly to the mobility of nonelectrolytic particles, viz., as the speed that the ion obtains in a given solvent when influenced by unit power.

Ionic strength

The weight concentration of ions in solution, computed by multiplying the concentration of each ion in solution (C) by the corresponding square of the charge on the ion (Z) summing this product for all ions in solution and dividing by 2:ionic strength – 1/2 _ Z2 C.


International Practical Temperature Scale of 1948. Fixed points in thermometry as specified by the Ninth General Conference of Weights and Measures which was held in 1948.


International Practical Temperature Scale of 1968. Fixed points in thermometry set by the 1968 General Conference of Weights and Measures.


Instrument Society of America.


The reduction of the capacity of a system to respond to an external force by use of resilient isolating materials.

Isopotential point

A potential which is not affected by temperature changes. It is the pH value at which dE/dt for a given electrode pair is zero. Normally, for a glass electrode and SCE reference, this potential is obtained approximately when immersed in pH 7 buffer.


A process or area that is a constant temperature.


The basic unit of thermal energy.


A journal is that part of a rotor that is in contact with or supported by a bearing in which it revolves.


The point in a thermocouple where the two dissimilar metals are joined.


When referring to memory capacity, two to the tenth power (1024 in decimal notation).


Symbol K. The unit of absolute or thermodynamic temperature scale based upon the Celsius scale with 100 units between the ice point and boiling point of water. 0°C = 273.15K (there is no degree (°) symbol used with the Kelvin scale).

Kilowatt (kw)

Equivalent to 1000 watts.

Kilowatt hour (kwh)

1000 watthours. Kilovolt amperes (kva): 1000 volt amps.

Kinetic energy

Energy associated with mass in motion, i.e., 1/2 rV2 where r is the density of the moving mass and V is its velocity.


Kilovolt amperes (1000-volt amps).


1. A time delay between the output of a signal and the response of the instrument to which the signal is sent.

2. A time relationship between two waveforms where a fixed reference point on one wave occurs after the same point of the reference wave.

Laminar flow

Streamlined flow of a fluid where viscous forces are more significant than inertial forces, generally below a Reynolds number of 2000.

Large scale integration (LSI)

The combining of about 1,000 to 10,000 circuits on a single chip. Typical examples of LSI circuits are memory chips and microprocessor.

Latent heat

Expressed in BTU per pound. The amount of heat needed (absorbed) to convert a pound of boiling water to a pound of steam.

Leakage rate

The maximum rate at which a fluid is permitted or determined to leak through a seal. The type of fluid, the differential Limits of Error: A tolerance band for the thermal electric response of thermocouple wire expressed in degrees or percentage defined by ANSI specification MC-96.1 (1975).

Least-squares line

The straight line for which the sum of the squares of the residuals (deviations) is minimized.

Life cycle

The minimum number of pressure cycles the transducer can endure and still remain within a specified tolerance.

Limits of error

A tolerance band for the thermal electric response of thermocouple wire expressed in degrees or percentage defined by ANSI specification MC-96.1 (1975).


The closeness of a calibration curve to a specified straight line. Linearity is expressed as the maximum deviation of any calibration point on a specified straight line during any one calibration cycle.

Liquid junction potential

The potential difference existing between a liquid-liquid boundary. The sign and size of this potential depends on the composition of the liquids and the type of junction used.

Load impedance

The impedance presented to the output terminals of a transducer by the associated external circuitry.


The electrical demand of a process expressed as power (watts), current (amps) or resistance (ohms).

Logarithmic scale

A method of displaying data (in powers of ten) to yield maximum range while keeping resolution at the low end of the scale.

Loop resistance

The total resistance of a thermocouple circuit caused by the resistance of the thermocouple wire. Usually used in reference to analog pyrometers which have typical loop resistance requirements of 10 ohms.

LS-TTL compatible

For digital input circuits, a logic 1 is obtained for inputs of 2.0 to 5.5 V which can source 20 µA, and a logic 0 is obtained for inputs of 0 to 0.8 V which can sink 400 µA. For digital output signals, a logic 1 is represented by 2.4 to 5.5 V with a current source capability of at least 400 µA; and a logic 0 is represented by 0 to 0.6 V with a current sink capability of at least 16 MA. “LS” stands for low-power Schottky.

LS-TTL unit load

A load with LS-TTL voltage levels, which will draw 20 µA for a logic 1 and -400 µA for a logic 0.

LSD (least-significant digit)

The rightmost active (non-dummy) digit of the display.

Mega; one million

When referring to memory capacity, two to the twentieth power (1,048,576 in decimal notation).

Machine language

Instructions that are written in binary form that a computer can execute directly. Also called object code and object language.

Mandrel (balancing arbor)

An accurately machined shaft on which work is mounted for balancing.

Manual reset (adjustment)

The adjustment on a proportioning controller which shifts the proportioning band in relationship to the set point to eliminate droop or offset errors.

Manual reset (switch)

The switch in a limit controller that manually resets the controller after the limit has been exceeded.

Mass flow rate

Volumetric flowrate times density, i.e. pounds per hour or kilograms per minute.

Mass storage

A device like a disk or magtape that can store large amounts of data readily accessible to the central processing unit.

Maximum elongation

The strain value where a deviation of more than ±5% occurs with respect to the mean characteristic (diagram of resistance change vs strain).

Maximum excitation

The maximum value of excitation voltage or current that can be applied to the transducer at room conditions without causing damage or performance degradation beyond specified tolerances.

Maximum operating temperature

The maximum temperature at which an instrument or sensor can be safely operated.

Maximum power rating

The maximum power in watts that a device can safely handle.

Mean ionic activity coefficient

See activity coefficient.

Mean temperature

The average of the maximum and minimum temperature of a processequilibrium.


A physical quantity, property, or condition which is measured.

Measuring junction

The thermocouple junction referred to as the hot junction that is used to measure an unknown temperature.

Mechanical hysteresis

The difference of the indication with increasing and decreasing strain loading, at identical strain values of the specimen.

Medium effect (f m)

For solvents other than water the medium effect is the activity coefficient related to the standard state in water at zero concentration. It reflects differences in the electrostatic and chemical interactions of the ions with the molecules of various solvents. Solvation is the most significant interaction.

Melting point

The temperature at which a substance transforms from a solid phase to a liquid phase.


The pH-sensitive glass bulb is the membrane across which the potential difference due to the formation of double layers with ion-exchange properties on the two swollen glass surfaces is developed. The membrane makes contact with and separates the internal element and filling solution from the sample solution.

Method of correction

A procedure whereby the mass distribution of a rotor is adjusted to reduce unbalance, or vibration due to unbalance, to an acceptable value. Corrections are usually made by adding material to, or removing it from, the rotor.


A transparent mineral used as window material in high-temperature ovens.


One millionth of an ampere, 10-6 amps, µA.


A computer which is physically small. It can fit on top of or under a desk; based on LSI circuitry, computers of this type are now available with much of the power currently associated with minicomputer systems.


One millionth of a meter, 10-6 meters.


One millionth of a volt, 10-6 volts.


One thousandth of an inch (.001″).


One thousandth of an amp, 10-3 amps, symbol mA.


One thousandth of a meter, symbol mm.


Unit of electromotive force. It is the difference in potential required to make a current of 1 millampere flow through a resistance of 1 ohm; one thousandth of a volt, symbol mV.

Mineral-insulated thermocouple

A type of thermocouple cable which has an outer metal sheath and mineral (magnesium oxide) insulation inside separating a pair of thermocouple wires from themselves and from the outer sheath. This cable is usually drawn down to compact the mineral insulation and is available in diameters from .375 to .010 inches. It is ideally suited for high-temperature and severe-duty applications.

Minor scale division

On an analog scale, the smallest indicated division of units on the scale.

Modem: modulator/demodulator

A device that transforms digital signals into audio tones for transmission over telephone lines, and does the reverse for reception.


A measure of concentration expressed in mols per kilogram of solvent.

Monovalent ion

An ion with a single positive or negative charge (H+, C1-).


The pc board of a computer that contains the bus lines and edge connectors to accommodate other boards in the system. In a microcomputer, the motherboard contains the microprocessor and connectors for expansion boards.

Mounting error

The error resultant from installing the transducer, both electrical and mechanical.

MSD (most-significant digit)

The leftmost digit of the display.

Mueller bridge

A high-accuracy bridge configuration used to measure three-wire RTD thermometers.


A technique which allows different input (or output) signals to use the same lines at different times, controlled by an external signal. Multiplexing is used to save on wiring and I/O ports.

N/C (no connection)

A connector point for which there is no internal connection.


National Bureau of Standards.


National Electric Codes.

Negative temperature coefficient

A decrease in resistance with an increase in temperature.


A standard from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which defines enclosures intended for indoor or outdoor use primarily to provide a degree of protection against windblown dust and rain, splashing water, and hose-directed water.


A standard from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which defines explosion-proof enclosures for use in locations classified as Class I, Groups A, B, C or D, as specified in the National Electrical Code.


A standard from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which defines enclosures with protection against dirt, dust, splashes by non-corrosive liquids, and salt spray.

NEMA-size case

An older US case standard for panel meters, which requires a panel cutout of 3.93 x 1.69 inches.

Nernst equation

A mathematical description of electrode behavior: E is the total potential, in millivolts, developed between the sensing and reference electrodes; Ex varies with the choice of electrodes, temperature, and pressure: 2.3RT/nF is the Nernst factor (R and F are constants, n is the charge on the ion, including sign, T is the temperature in degrees Kelvin), and ai is the activity of the ion to which the electrode is responding.

Nernst factor (s, slope)

The term 2.3RT/nF is the Nernst equation, which is equal (at T = 25°C) to 59.16 mV when n = 1 and 29.58 mV when n – 2, and which includes the sign of the charge on the ion in the term n. The Nerst factor varies with temperature.


A group of computers that are connected to each other by communications lines to share information and resources.


One half of a byte.


A nickel chrome/nickel silicone thermal alloy used to measure high temperatures. Inconsistencies in thermoelectric voltages exist in these alloys with respect to the wire guage.

NMR (normal-mode rejection)

The ability of a panel meter to filter out noise superimposed on the signal and applied across the SIG HI to SIG LO input terminals. Normally expressed in dB at 50/60 Hz.


An unwanted electrical interference on the signal wires.

Normal (axial) stress

The force per unit area on a given plane within a body a = F/A.

Normal hydrogen electrode

A reversible hydrogen electrode (Pt) in contact with hydrogen gas at 1 atmosphere partial pressure and immersed in a solution containing hydrogen ions at unit activity.

Normal-mode rejection ratio

The ability of an instrument to reject interference usually of line frequency (50-60 Hz) across its input terminals.


National Pipe Thread.


A condition, such as balance, which results in a minimum absolute value of output.


Outside diameter.


Pertaining to a base 8 number system.


The difference in temperature between the set point and the actual process temperature. Also, referred to as droop.


Oxygen-free high-conductivity copper. The industrial designation of the pure copper used in a Type T thermocouple.


An instrument used to measure electrical resistance.

On/off controller

A controller whose action is fully on or fully off.

Open circuit

The lack of electrical contact in any part of the measuring circuit. An open circuit is usually characterized by rapid large jumps in displayed potential, followed by an off-scale reading.

Operating system

A collection of programs that controls the overall operation of a computer and performs such tasks as assigning places in memory to programs and data, processing interrupts, scheduling jobs and controlling the overall input/output of the system.

Operational pH

The determination of sample pH by relating to pH measurements in a primary standard solution. This relationship assumes that electrode errors such as sensitivity and changes in asymmetry potential can be disregarded or compensated for, provided the liquid junction potential remains constant between standard and sample.

Optical isolation

Two networks which are connected only through an LED transmitter and photoelectric receiver with no electrical continuity between the two networks.

Outboard rotor

A two-journal rotor which has its center of gravity between the journals.

Output impedance

The resistance as measured on the output terminals of a pressure transducer.

Output noise

The RMS, peak-to-peak (as specified) ac component of a transducer’s dc output in the absence of a measurand variation.


The electrical signal which is produced by an applied input to the transducer.


The number of degrees that a process exceeds the set point temperature when coming up to the set point temperature.


An optical illusion which occurs in analog meters and causes reading errors. It occurs when the viewing eye is not in the same plane, perpendicular to the meter face, as the indicating needle.

Parallel transmission

Sending all data bits simultaneously. Commonly used for communications between computers and printer devices.


A technique for testing transmitting data. Typically, a binary digit is added to the data to make the sum of all the digits of the binary data either always even (even parity) or always odd (odd parity).

Peltier effect

When a current flows through a thermocouple junction, heat will either be absorbed or evolved depending on the direction of current flow. This effect is independent of joule I2 R heating.

Perfectly balanced rotor

A rotor is perfectly balanced when its mass distribution is such that it transmits no vibratory force or motion to its bearings as a result of centrifugal forces.


A device that is external to the CPU and main memory, i.e., printer, modem or terminal, but is connected by the appropriate electrical connections.
pH Junctions: The Junction of a reference electrode or combination electrode is a permeable membrane through which the fill solution escapes (called the liquid junction).

pH(S) (standard pH scale)

The conventional standard pH scale established on the basis that an individual ionic activity coefficient can be calculated from the Debye-H¸ckel law for primary buffers.

Phase difference

The time expressed in degrees between the same reference point on two periodic waveforms.

Phase proportioning

A form of temperature control where the power supplied to the process is controlled by limiting the phase angle of the line voltage.


A time based relationship between a periodic function and a reference. In electricity, it is expressed in angular degrees to describe the voltage or current relationship of two alternating waveforms.

PID – proportional, integral, derivative

A three mode control action where the controller has time proportioning, integral (auto reset) and derivative rate action.

Piezoelectric accelerometer

A transducer that produces an electrical charge in direct proportion to the vibratory acceleration.


Resistance that changes with stress.

Pixel – picture element

Definable locations on a display screen that are used to form images on the screen. For graphic displays, screens with more pixels provide higher resolution.

Plane separation

Of a balancing machine, is the operation of reducing the correction plane interference ratio for a particular rotor.


A non-standard, high temperature platinum thermocouple alloy whose thermoelectric voltage nearly matches a Type K thermocouple (Trademark of Englehard Industries).

Platinum 6% rhodium

The platinum-rhodium alloy used as the negative wire in conjunction with platinum-30% rhodium to form a Type B thermocouple.

Platinum 10% rhodium

The platinum-rhodium alloy used as the positive wire in conjunction with pure platinum to form a Type S thermocouple.

Platinum 13% rhodium

The platinum-rhodium alloy used as the positive wire in conjunction with pure platinum to form a Type R thermocouple.

Platinum 30% rhodium

The platinum-rhodium alloy used as the positive wire in conjunction with platinum 6% rhodium to form a Type B thermocouple.

Platinum 67

To develop thermal emf tables for thermocouples, the National Bureau of Standards paired each thermocouple alloy against a pure platinum wire (designated Platinum 2 prior to 1973, and currently Platinum 67). The thermal emf’s of any alloy combination can be determined by summing the “vs. Pt-67” emf’s of the alloys, i.e., the emf table for a Type K thermocouple is derived from the Chromel vs. Pt-67 and the Alumel vs. Pt-67 values.


A noble metal which in its pure form is the negative wire of Type R and Type S thermocouples.

Poisson ratio

The ratio between the strain of expansion in the direction of force and the strain of contraction perpendicular to that force v = -Et/E1.


In electricity, the quality of having two oppositely charged poles, one positive one negative.


The inability of an electrode to reproduce a reading after a small electrical current has been passed through the membrane. Glass pH electrodes are especially prone to polarization errors caused by small currents flowing from the pH meter input circuit and from static electrical charges built up as the electrodes are removed from the sample solution, or when the electrodes are wiped.


A signal input (access) or output point on a computer.

Positive temperature coefficient

An increase in resistance due to an increase in temperature.

Potential energy

Energy related to the position or height above a place to which fluid could possibly flow.


1. A variable resistor often used to control a circuit.

2. A balancing bridge used to measure voltage.

Power supply

A separate unit or part of a circuit that supplies power to the rest of the circuit or to a system.


Abbreviation for “parts per million,” sometimes used to express temperature coefficients. For instance, 100 ppm is identical to 0.01%.

Primary device

Part of a flowmeter which is mounted internally or externally to the fluid conduit and produces a signal corresponding to the flowrate and from which the flow may be determined.

Primary standard (NBS)

The standard reference units and physical constants maintained by the National Bureau of Standards upon which all measurement units in the United States are based.

Primary standards

Aqueous pH buffer solutions established by the National Bureau of Standards within the 2.5 to 11.5 pH range of ionic strength less than 0.1 and which provide stable liquid junction potential and uniformity of electrode sensitivity.

Principal axes

The axes of maximum and minimum normal stress.


A generic term that is used to describe many types of temperature sensors.

Process meter

A panel meter with sizeable zero and span adjustment capabilities, which can be scaled for readout in engineering units for signals such as 4 – 20mA, 10 – 50mA and 1 – 5V.


A list of instructions that a computer follows to perform a task.

Prom – programmable read-only memory

A semiconductor memory whose contents cannot be changed by the computer after it has been programmed.

Proof pressure

The specified pressure which may be applied to the sensing element of a transducer without causing a permanent change in the output characteristics.

Proportioning band

A temperature band expressed in degrees within which a temperature controller’s time proportioning function is active.

Proportioning control mode

A time proportioning controller where the amount of time that the relay is energized is dependent upon the system’s temperature.

Proportioning control plus derivative function

A time proportioning controller with derivative function. The derivative function senses the rate at which a system’s temperature is either increasing or decreasing and adjusts the cycle time of the controller to minimize overshoot or undershoot.

Proportioning control plus integral

A two-mode controller with time proportioning and integral (auto reset) action. The integral function automatically adjusts the temperature at which a system has stabilized back to the setpoint temperature, thereby eliminating droop in the system.

Proportioning control with integral and derivative functions

Three mode PID controller. A time proportioning controller with integral and derivative functions. The integral function automatically adjusts the system temperature to the set point temperature to eliminate droop due to the time proportioning function. The derivative function senses the rate of rise or fall of the system temperature and automatically adjusts the cycle time of the controller to minimize overshoot or undershoot.

Protection head

An enclosure usually made out of metal at the end of a heater or probe where connections are made.

Protection tube

A metal or ceramic tube, closed at one end into which a temperature sensor is inserted. The tube protects the sensor from the medium into which it is inserted.


A formal definition that describes how data is to be exchanged.


Pounds per square inch absolute. Pressure referenced to a vacuum.


Pounds per square inch differential. Pressure difference between two points.


Pound per square inch guage. Pressure referenced to ambient air pressure.


Pounds per square inch standard. Pressure referenced to a standard atmosphere.

Pulse width modulation

An output in the form of duty cycle which varies as a function of the applied measurand.


See infrared.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

Memory that can be both read and changed during computer operation. Unlike other semi-conductor memories, RAM is volatile-if power to the RAM is disrupted or lost, all the data stored is lost.


Those values over which a transducer is intended to measure, specified by its upper and lower limits.


The ratio of the maximum flowrate to the minimum flowrate of a meter.

Rankine (°R)

An absolute temperature scale based upon the Fahrenheit scale with 180° between the ice point and boiling point of water. 459.67°R = 0°F.

Rate action

The derivative function of a temperature controller.

Rate time

The time interval over which the system temperature is sampled for the derivative function.

Ratiometric measurement

A measurement technique where an external signal is used to provide the voltage reference for the dual-slope A/D converter. The external signal can be derived from the voltage excitation applied to a bridge circuit or pick-off supply, thereby eliminating errors due to power supply fluctuations.

Read only Memory (ROM)

Memory that contains fixed data. The computer can read the data, but cannot change it in any way.

Real time

The time interval over which the system temperature is sampled for the derivative function.


A collection of unrelated information that is treated as a single unit.

Recovery time

The length of time which it takes a transducer to return to normal after applying a proof pressure.

Redox potential

The potential developed by a metallic electrode when placed in a solution containing a species in two different oxidation states.

Reference junction

The cold junction in a thermocouple circuit which is held at a stable known temperature. The standard reference temperature is 0°C (32°F). However, other temperatures can be used.

Reference mark

Any diagnostic point or mark which can be used to relate a position during rotation of a part to its location when stopped.

Reference plane

Any plane perpendicular to the shaft axis to which an amount of unbalance is referred.

Refractory metal thermocouple

A class of thermocouples with melting points above 3600°F. The most common are made from tungsten and tungsten/rhenium alloys Types G and C. They can be used for measuring high temperatures up to 4000°F (2200°C) in non-oxidizing, inert, or vacuum environments.


A storage device with a specific capacity, such as a bit, byte or word.

Relay (mechanical)

An electromechanical device that completes or interrupts a circuit by physically moving electrical contacts into contact with each other.

Relay (solid state)

A solid state switching device which completes or interrupts a circuit electrically with no moving parts.


Not hard-wired; communicating via switched lines, such as telephone lines. Usually refers to peripheral devices that are located a site away from the CPU.
Repeatability: The ability of a transducer to reproduce output readings when the same measurand value is applied to it consecutively, under the same conditions, and in the same direction. Repeatability is expressed as the maximum difference between output readings.

Reserved word

A word that has a defined function in the language, and cannot be used as a variable name.

Residual (final) unbalance

Residual unbalance is that unbalance of any kind that remains after balancing.

Resistance ratio characteristic

For thermistors, the ratio of the resistance of the thermistor at 25°C to the resistance at 125°C.

Resistance temperature characteristic

A relationship between a thermistor’s resistance and the temperature.


The resistance to the flow of electric current measured in ohms (1/2) for a conductor. Resistance is function of diameter, resistivity (an intrinsic property of the material) and length.


The smallest detectable increment of measurement. Resolution is usually limited by the number of bits used to quantize the input signal. For example, a 12-bit A/D can resolve to one part in 4096 (2 to the 12 power equals 4096).

Resonant frequency

The measurand frequency at which a transducer responds with maximum amplitude.

Response time (time constant)

The time required by a sensor to reach 63.2% of a step change in temperature under a specified set of conditions. Five time constants are required for the sensor to stabilize at 600 of the step change value.

Response time

The length of time required for the output of a transducer to rise to a specified percentage of its final value as a result of a step change of input.
Reynolds Number: The ratio of inertial and viscous forces in a fluid defined by the formula Re = rVD/µ, where: r = Density of fluid, µ = Viscosity in centipoise (CP), V = Velocity, and D = Inside diameter of pipe.


Radio frequency interference.


A variable resistor.

Rigid rotor

A rotor is considered rigid when it can be corrected in any two (arbitrarily selected) planes [see “Correction (Balancing)Plane”] and after that correction, its unbalance does not significantly exceed the balancing tolerances (relative to the shaft axis) at any speed up to maximum operating speed and when running under conditions which approximate closely to those of the final supporting system.

Rise time

The time required for a sensor or system to respond to an instantaneous step function, measured from the 10% to 90% points on the response waveforms.
Room Conditions: Ambient environmental conditions under which transducers must commonly operate.

Root Mean Square (RMS)

Square root of the mean of the square of the signal taken during one full cycle.


A rotor is a rotating body whose journals are supported by bearings.


Resistance temperature detector.

Salt bridge

The salt bridge of a reference electrode is that part of the electrode which contains the filling solution to establish the electrolytic connection between reference internal cell and the test solution. Auxiliary Salt Bridge: A glass tube open at one end to receive intermediate electrolyte filling solution, and the reference electrode tip and a junction at the other end to make contact with the sample.

Salt effect (fx)

The effect on the activity coefficient due to salts in the solution.


Scientific Apparatus Makers Association. An association that has issued standards covering platinum, nickel, and copper resistance elements (RTDs).


Saturated calomel electrode.


Silicone controlled rectifier.


To move all or part of the screen material up to down, left or right, to allow new information to appear.

Secondary device

A part of the flowmeter which receives a signal proportional to the flowrate, from the primary device, and displays, records and/or transmits the signal.

Secondary standard

pH buffer solutions which do not meet the requirements of primary standard solutions but provide coverage of the pH range not covered by primary standards. Used when the pH value of the primary standard is not close to the sample pH value.

Seebeck coefficient

The derivative (rate of change) of thermal EMF with respect to temperature normally expressed as millivolts per degree.

Seebeck effect

When a circuit is formed by a junction of two dissimilar metals and the junctions are held at different temperatures, a current will flow in the circuit caused by the difference in temperature between the two junctions.

Seebeck EMF

The open circuit voltage caused by the difference in temperature between the hot and cold junctions of a circuit made from two dissimilar metals.

Self heating

Internal heating of a transducer as a result of power dissipation.

Sensing element

That part of the transducer which reacts directly in response to the input.

Sensitivity shift

A change in slope of the calibration curve due to a change in sensitivity.


The minimum change in input signal to which an instrument can respond.

Sequential access

An access mode in which records are retrieved in the same order in which they were written. Each successive access to the file refers to the next record in the file.

Serial transmission

Sending one bit at a time on a single transmission line. Compare with parallel transmission.

Set point

The temperature at which a controller is set to control a system.

Settling time

The time taken for the display to settle within one digit final value when a step is applied to the meter input.

Shear modulus

The ratio of the shear stress and the angular shear distortion.

Shear stress

Where normal stress is perpendicular to the designated plane, shear stress is parallel to the plane.

Shearing strain

A measure of angular distortion also directly measurable, but not as easily as axial strain.

Sheath thermocouple

A thermocouple made out of mineral-insulated thermocouple cable which has an outer metal sheath.

SI – system internationale

The name given to the standard metric system of units.

Signal conditioner

A circuit module which offsets, attenuates, amplifies, linearizes and/or filters the signal for input to the A/D converter. The typical output signal conditioner is +2 VDC.

Signal conditioning

To process the form or mode of a signal so as to make it intelligible to, or compatible with, a given device, including such manipulation as pulse shaping, pulse clipping, compensating, digitizing, and linearizing.


An electrical transmittance (either input or output) that conveys information.

Single precision

The degree of numeric accuracy that requires the use of one computer word. In single precision, seven digits are stored, and up to seven digits are printed. Contrast with double precision.

Single-ended input

A signal-input circuit where SIG LO (or sometimes SIG HI) is tied to METER GND. Ground loops are normally not a problem in AC-powered meters, since METER GND is transformer-isolated from AC GND.

Single-plane (static) balancing machine

A single plane balancing machine is a gravitational or centrifugal balancing machine that provides information for accomplishing single plane balancing.

Slope (electrode sensitivity, span)

See Nernst factor.

Smallest bending radius

The smallest radius that a strain guage can withstand in one direction, without special treatment, without suffering visible damage.


Generally, programs loaded into a computer from external mass storage but also extended to include operating systems and documentation.


Ions in solution are normally combined with at least one molecule of solvent. This phenomenon is termed solvation.

Source code

A non-executable program written in a high-level language. A compiler or assembler must translate the source code into object code (machine language) that the computer can understand and process.

Span Adjustment

The ability to adjust the gain of a process or strain meter so that a specified display span in engineering units corresponds to a specified signal span. For instance, a display span of 200°F may correspond to the 16mA span of a 4 – 20mA transmitter signal.


The difference between the upper and lower limits of a range expressed in the same units as the range.


A connector point reserved for options, specials, or other configurations. The point is identified by an (E#) for location on the electrical schematic.

Specific gravity

The ratio of mass of any material to the mass of the same volume of pure water at 4°C.

Specific heat

The ratio of thermal energy required to raise the temperature of a body 1° to the thermal energy required to raise an equal mass of water 1°.

Spectral filter

A filter which allows only a specific band width of the electromagnetic spectrum to pass, i.e., 4 to 8 micron infrared radiation.

Spectrum analysis

Utilizing frequency components of a vibration signal to determine the source and cause of vibration.


The resolving of overall vibration into amplitude components as a function of frequency.

Spot size

The diameter of the circle formed by the cross section of the field of view of an optical instrument at a given distance.

Spurious error

Random or erratic malfunction.


Solid state relay (see relay, solid state).


The quality of an instrument or sensor to maintain a consistent output when a constant input is applied.

Stagnation pressure

The sum of the static and dynamic pressure.

Standard electrode potential (E0)

The standard potential E0 of an electrode is the reversible emf between the normal hydrogen electrode and the electrode with all components at unit activity.


A process of equalizing electrode potentials in one standardizing solution (buffer) so that potentials developed in unknown solutions can be converted to pH values.

Static calibration

A calibration recording pressure versus output at fixed points at room temperature.

Static error band

The error band applicable at room temperature.

Static pressure

Pressure of a fluid whether in motion or at rest. It can be sensed in a small hole drilled perpendicular to and flush with the flow boundaries so as not to disturb the fluid in any way.

Static unbalance

Static unbalance is that condition of unbalance for which the central principal axis is displayed only parallel to the shaft axis.

Steady flow

A flow rate in the measuring section of a flow line that does not vary significantly with time.

Steady state vibration

That condition of vibration induced by an unchanging continuing periodic force.


The ratio of the force required to create a certain deflection or movement of a part expressed as (Force/deflection) lbs/in or grams/cm.

Stop bit

A signal following a character or block that prepares the receiving device to receive the next character or block.

Strain guage

A measuring element for converting force, pressure, tension, etc., into an electrical signal.


The ratio of the change in length to the initial unstressed reference length.


A sequence of characters.

Strouhal number

A nondimensional parameter important in vortex meter design defined as: s = Fh/V where f = frequency, V = velocity, and h = a reference length.

Super cooling

The cooling of a liquid below its freezing temperature without the formation of the solid phase.

Super heating

  1. The heating of a liquid above its boiling temperature without the formation of the gaseous phase.
  2. The heating of the gaseous phase considerably above the boiling-point temperature to improve the thermodynamic efficiency of a system.

Surge current

A current of short duration that occurs when power is first applied to capacitive loads or temperature dependent resistive loads such as tungsten or molybdenum heaters-usually lasting no more than several cycles.

Suspension effect

The source of error due to varied reference liquid junction potential depending upon whether the electrodes are immersed in the supernatant fluid or deeper in the sediment. Normally encountered with solutions containing resins or charged colloids.


The rules governing the structure of a language.


A recording media for data or computer programs. Tape can be in permanent form, such as perforated paper tape, or erasable, such as magnetic tape. Generally, tape is used as a mass storage medium, in magnetic form, and has a much higher storage capacity than disk storage, but it takes much longer to write or recover data from tape than from a disk.


Synonym for data communication. The transmission of information from one point to another.


Abbreviation for “temperature coefficient”: the error introduced by a change in temperature. Normally expressed in %/°C or ppm/°C.

Temperature error

The maximum change in output, at any measurand value within the specified range, when the transducer temperature is changed from room temperature to specified temperature extremes.

Temperature range, compensated

The range of ambient temperatures within which all tolerances specified for Thermal Zero Shift and Thermal Sensitivity Shift are applicable (temperature error).

Temperature range, operable

The range of ambient temperatures, given by their extremes, within which the transducer may be operated. Exceeding compensated range may require recalibration.


An input/output device used to enter data into a computer and record the output.

Thermal coefficient of resistance

The change in resistance of a semiconductor per unit change in temperature over a specific range of temperature.

Thermal conductivity

The property of a material to conduct heat in the form of thermal energy.

Thermal emf

See Seebeck emf.

Thermal expansion

An increase in size due to an increase in temperature expressed in units of an increase in length or increase in size per degree, i.e. inches/inch/degree C.

Thermal gradient

The distribution of a differential temperature through a body or across a surface.

Thermal sensitivity shift

The sensitivity shift due to changes of the ambient temperature from room temperature to the specified limits of the compensated temperature range.

Thermal zero shift

An error due to changes in ambient temperature in which the zero pressure output shifts. Thus, the entire calibration curve moves in a parallel displacement.


A temperature-sensing element composed of sintered semiconductor material which exhibits a large change in resistance proportional to a small change in temperature. Thermistors usually have negative temperature coefficients.

Thermocouple type material

(ANSI Symbol)
J  Iron/Constantan
T  Copper/Constantan
E  CHROMEGA®/Constantan
R  Platinum/Platinum 13% Rhodium
S  Platinum/Platinum 10% Rhodium
B  Platinum 6% Rhodium/Platinum30% Rhodium
G*  Tungsten/Tungsten 26% Rhenium
C*  Tungsten 5% Rhenium/Tungsten 26% Rhenium
D*  Tungsten 3% Rhenium/Tungsten 150 Rhenium
*Not ANSI symbols.


The junction of two dissimilar metals which has a voltage output proportional to the difference in temperature between the hot junction and the lead wires (cold junction) (refer to Seebeck emf).


An arrangement of thermocouples in series such that alternate junctions are at the measuring temperature and the reference temperature. This arrangement amplifies the thermoelectric voltage. Thermopiles are usually used as infrared detectors in radiation pyrometry.


A closed-end tube designed to protect temperature sensors from harsh environments, high pressure, and flows. They can be installed into a system by pipe thread or welded flange and are usually made of corrosion-resistant metal or ceramic material depending upon the application.

Thomson effect

When current flows through a conductor within a thermal gradient, a reversible absorption or evolution of heat will occur in the conductor at the gradient boundaries.
Transducer Vibration: Generally, any device which converts movement, either shock or steady state vibration, into an electrical signal proportional to the movement; a sensor.


A device (or medium) that converts energy from one form to another. The term is generally applied to devices that take physical phenomenon (pressure, temperature, humidity, flow, etc.) and convert it to an electrical signal.

Transient vibration

A temporary vibration or movement of a mechanical system.

Transitional flow

Flow between laminar and turbulent flow, usually between a pipe Reynolds number of 2000 and 4000.

Transmitter (two-wire)

  1. A device which is used to transmit data from a sensor via a two-wire current loop. The loop has an external power supply and the transmitter acts as a variable resistor with respect to its input signal.
  2. A device which translates the low level output of a sensor or transducer to a higher level signal suitable for transmission to a site where it can be further processed.


A solid state switching device used to switch alternating current wave forms.

Triboelectric noise

The generation of electrical charges caused by layers of cable insulation. This is especially troublesome in high impedance accelerometers.

Triple point (water)

The thermodynamic state where all three phases, solid, liquid, and gas may all be present in equilibrium. The triple point of water is .01°C.

Triple point

The temperature and pressure at which solid, liquid, and gas phases of a given substance are all present simultaneously in varying amounts.

True RMS

The true root-mean-square value of an AC or AC-plus-DC signal, often used to determine power of a signal. For a perfect sine wave, the RMS value is 1.11072 times the rectified average value, which is utilized for low-cost metering. For significantly non-sinusoidal signals, a true RMS converter is required.

TTL unit load

A load with TTL voltage levels, which will draw 40 µA for a logic 1 and –1.6mA for a logic 0.


For digital input circuits, a logic 1 is obtained for inputs of 2.0 to 5.5V which can source 40µA, and a logic 0 is obtained for inputs of 0 to 0.8V which can sink 1.6mA. For digital output signals, a logic 1 is represented by 2.4 to 5.5V with a current source capability of at least 400µA; and a logic 0 is represented by 0 to 0.6V with a current sink capability of at least 16mA.


Transistor-to-transistor logic. A form of solid state logic which uses only transistors to form the logic gates.

Turbulent flow

When forces due to inertia are more significant than forces due to viscosity. This typically occurs with a Reynolds number in excess of 4000.


Error is within plus or minus one standard deviation (±1%) of the nominal specified value, as computed from the total population.


Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. An independent laboratory that establishes standards for commercial and industrial products.


That portion of the electromagnetic spectrum below blue light (380 nanometers).


That condition which exists in a rotor when vibratory force or motion is imparted to its bearings as a result of centrifugal forces.

Unbalance tolerance

The unbalance tolerance with respect to a radial plane (measuring plane or correction plane) is that amount of unbalance which is specified as the maximum below which the state of unbalance is considered acceptable.


The difference in temperature between the temperature a process goes to, below the set point, after the cooling cycle is turned off and the set point temperature.

Ungrounded junction

A form of construction of a thermocouple probe where the hot or measuring junction is fully enclosed by and insulated from the sheath material.


A form of pipe fitting where two extension pipes are joined at a separable coupling.


Any pressure less than atmospheric pressure.


The time rate of change of displacement; dx/dt.

Vibration error band

The error recorded in output of a transducer when subjected to a given set of amplitudes and frequencies.

Vibration error

The maximum change in output of a transducer when a specific amplitude and range of frequencies are applied to a specific axis at room temperature.


The inherent resistance of a substance to flow.


The (electrical) potential difference between two points in a circuit. The fundamental unit is derived as work per unit charge-(V = W/Q). One volt is the potential difference required to move one coulomb of charge between two points in a circuit while using one joule of energy.


An electrical potential which can be measured in volts.


An instrument used to measure voltage.

Volume flow rate

Calculated using the area of the full closed conduit and the average fluid velocity in the form, Q = V x A, to arrive at the total volume quantity of flow. Q = volumetric flowrate, V = average fluid velocity, and A = cross sectional area of the pipe.

Watt density

The watts emanating from each square inch of heated surface area of a heater. Expressed in units of watts per square inch.

Wheatstone bridge

A network of four resistances, an emf source, and a galvanometer connected such that when the four resistances are matched, the galvanometer will show a zero deflection or “null” reading.


In computer graphics, a defined area in a system not bounded by any limits; unlimited “space” in graphics.


Number of bits treated as a single unit by the CPU. In an 8-bit machine, the word length is 8 bits; in a sixteen bit machine, it is 16 bits.

Working standard

A standard of unit measurement calibrated from either a primary or secondary standard which is used to calibrate other devices or make comparison measurements.


To record data in a storage device or on a data medium.

Young’s Modulus

Young’s Modulus (the Modulus of Elasticity) is equivalent to the ratio of normal stress to strain.

Zero adjustment

The ability to adjust the display of a process or strain meter so that zero on the display corresponds to a non-zero signal, such as 4 mA, 10 mA, or 1 V dc. The adjustment range is normally expressed in counts.

Zero offset

  1. The difference expressed in degrees between true zero and an indication given by a measuring instrument.
  2. See Zero Suppression

Zero point

The electrical zero point where zero millivolts would be displayed. Used in conjunction with the slope control to provide a narrower range calibration.

Zero power resistance

The resistance of a thermistor or RTD element with no power being dissipated.

Zero suppression

The span of an indicator or chart recorder may be offset from zero (zero suppressed) such that neither limit of the span will be zero. For example, a temperature recorder which records a 100° span from 400° to 500° is said to have 400° zero suppression.

Zero voltage switching

The making or breaking of circuit timed such that the transition occurs when the voltage wave form crosses zero voltage; typically only found in solid state switching devices.


In computer graphics, causing an object to appear smaller or larger by moving the window and specifying various window sizes.


Contact Form

联系 Vicor