Reading force measurement values from A&D’s LCCU-21 button load cell

A&D’s LCCU-21 USB subminiature button load cells are available in capacities ranging from 100 N to 1 kN. Their tiny size makes it easy to incorporate them into your own machinery or test equipment. They are connected to an A/D converter with a USB interface, enabling you to quickly build PC-based force measurement and data acquisition systems at a very affordable price.

A&D LCCU21N100 usb button load cell

LCCU21 device profile in Simple Data Logger

As an alternative to A&D’s free WinCT-DLC application, you can also use these load cells with the most recent release of our Simple Data Logger software (SDL v1.2.1). In this article, I’ll show you how to configure SDL to request data from the load cell in user-defined intervals (polling).

The LCCU-21 button load cell has two data transfer modes: continuous transfer of up to 100 values/s and a command/reply mode. Currently, only the second mode is supported by Simple Data Logger (continuous mode has to be started and stopped by sending special commands to the LCCU-21, which is something that will be available in a future version of SDL).

Force measurement using A&D’s LCCU-21 button load cell and Simple Data Logger

1. Download and install Simple Data Logger.

2. Go to the license tab and enter a license key (required for the polling function). You can purchase license keys from FastSpring through a completely automated process (including a “90 days” license for only US$5). You can also contact us if you require a free trial license or apply to become a reseller if you want to sell our software to your customers.

3. In the input tab, set the device to “A&D LCCU21”, then click on set default parameters for device. This will set all interface parameters for you. The only thing left to set is the (virtual) COM port which appeared on your PC after connecting the LCCU-21 to a USB port (see this PDF document for further information):
A&D LCCU-21 usb button load cell: configuration in input tab

5. Switch to the control tab, enable polling and set the timer to a value that makes sense for your application. Click on set default command for A&D LCCU21; this will automatically enter the “RLMV” command which will be sent to the USB button load to request measurement data:
Set default command for A&D LCCU-21 usb button load cell

6. Select a file in the output tab. Click on the set values button to automatically set the values below for your region so that you can easily open the CSV file in Excel later. If you want to record the time with milliseconds, choose the appropriate format from the drop down list or enter it manually:
CSV file format settings

7. Click on the start button in the start tab to connect to the LCCU-21 USB button load cell and to start sending the polling command. Commands and replies are shown in the event log. Captured measurement values appear in blue and are written to the CSV file. Click on stop to stop data acquisition and to close the file:
Data acquisition from A&D LCCU-21 usb button load cell

Notes on the LCCU-21 button load cell

  • I don’t have the LCCU21N100 I used for testing anymore, so if you have any questions about it, please contact A&D.
  • The product brochure (PDF) contains several creative application examples, including one where load is applied by pressing the button load cell with a finger. When I tried this, it worked, but not very well: I found that it is impossible to press only the load sensitive surface (though maybe that’s not an issue for people with smaller fingers). It is therefore advisable to “apply load to the load cell through a rigid surface” as stated in the user manual.

Further information

Ohaus Ranger 7000: can a scale simplify complex weighing applications?

“Simplifying even the most complex industrial applications” is the claim that Ohaus makes in their data sheet. Is it justified? After spending some time trying out the different functions of this scale, I believe that yes, it is.

The key to understanding the power of the Ohaus Ranger 7000 scales are the 10 application modes:

  • Weighing: Determine the weight of items (no surprise here). A statistics feature can be used in weighing mode to calculate statistical data.
  • Counting: Count parts of uniform weight. Auto-optimization recalculates the average piece weight as the number of pieces is increased.
  • Check weighing and check counting: Compare the weight or count of a sample against target limits. Connect with discrete I/O option kit to use external check lights.
  • Formulation: For compounding and recipe making. Compensation can be used in case a component is overfilled (outside the tolerance).
  • Percent weighing: Measure the weight of a sample displayed as a percentage of a pre-established reference weight.
  • Filling: Fill a container to a target weight. Progress bar displays filling status. Connect with discrete I/O option kit to control a semi-automatic filling system.
  • Dynamic weighing: Weigh an unstable load. Scale takes an average of weights over a period of time. Can also be used as a display hold function.
  • Density Determination: Determine density of solids.
  • Differential weighing: Calculate the difference between sample weights and initial weights.
  • Sieve analysis: Used to assess the particle size distribution (also called gradation) of a granular material.

Each application is displayed differently on the 4.3 inch color screen. Compare, for instance, the display in weighing mode to check counting mode:

Weighing application on Ohaus Ranger 7000 scale
Weighing
Check counting application on Ohaus Ranger 7000 scale
Check counting

The applications are not limited to different presentations:

  • Five physical smart buttons below the display take on different functions depending on the application.
  • All settings relevant to the current application can be accessed easily by pressing the settings button.
  • The internal library allows you to save application specific data for commonly used items (e.g. the target weight and tolerance for check weighing, the average piece weight in counting mode or the set points in filling mode). The scale can be connected to a bar code reader to simplify recalling data from the library.
  • An optional I/O kit with four outputs (relays) and 2 inputs can be used to integrate the scale with external devices. The functionality is again dependent on the application mode. One of our customers has used the filling application with the I/O kit to build filling machines controlled entirely by a Ranger 7000 scale.

Therefore, as long as your application is supported by the scale, it does an excellent job at simplifying many tasks.

Ohaus Scout STX – a touchscreen scale done right

The first scale with a touchscreen display that I ever used (not made by Ohaus) took a while to start up, reacted sluggishly and – if I remember this correctly – required me to set up a user account before it would let me actually use it. That was a few years ago, but still, I was a bit skeptical when Ohaus announced that the newest model in their legendary Scout series would now have a touchscreen, too. However, after purchasing the cheapest Scout STX (the STX 421) and testing it extensively over several weeks, I can say that my worries were unfounded.

Startup time

As you can see in this short video, the Scout STX is even faster than the Ohaus Ranger 3000:

Ohaus Scout STX Einschaltdauer

Settings

How many scales can truly claim to be so easy to set up that you never have to look at the manual? As an example, here’s how you change the language: Touch “Menu”, then you’ll see 8 settings, of which “Balance Setup” looks the most promising. You’ll now see another seven settings with “Language” being the first one:

Ohaus Scout STX Sprache ändern

Should you ever find yourself somewhere you didn’t want to go, you can simply touch “Back” to go back to the previous screen.

Somewhat embarrassingly, the only thing I actually had to look up was how to change into another application mode: Instead of going through the menu, you simply touch the application name shown in the top left corner of the screen.

9 applications

The touchscreen really shines when it comes to different applications. As you can see in this video of me using the parts counting mode with auto-optimization, the STX can even replace a dedicated counting scale:

Waage Ohaus Scout STX: Zählfunktion

12 seconds into the video, you can see that the scale displays a numpad to let me enter the average piece weight or number of samples. There’s simply no way to achieve this kind of application flexibility and user friendliness without a touchscreen.

Touchscreen disadvantages

One common complaint about touchscreens is the lack of tactile feedback. Fortunately, the most frequently used buttons on any scale, ON/OFF/Zero and Tare, were still kept as physical buttons on the Ohaus Scout STX.

You also have to consider that the fairly large screen needs a lot of power. The Scout STX can be used with four AA batteries, but those won’t last more than a few hours (6 according to Ohaus). It’s certainly a good idea to use the included power adapter whenever possible.

Links and further information

How accurate are smart scales?

Are smart scales accurate weighing instruments or just simple bathroom scales with expensive connectivity features? To find out, I tested the Withings WS-30, Fitbit Aria and A&D UC-324NFC using class M1 weights.

A&D UC-324NFC Fitbit Aria Withings WS-30
Creative Commons LicenseThis image by digitalscalesblog.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Preparation

Each of the scales had not been used before and was configured as instructed by the manufacturer. This included signing up for an account with Withings and Fitbit. In the case of A&D’s UC-324NFC, I took advantage of a function available in the Wellness Connected  app which let me “calibrate” the scale by entering the local gravitational acceleration.

The scales were tested under similar conditions with a stable temperature of around 22°C and were placed on a flat, hard surface. The Withings and Fitbit scales were left alone for a night after the initial configuration as I wasn’t quite sure how they determine the zero value: unlike older electronic scales, you don’t have to switch them on and wait for them to show ‘zero’, instead, you step right on (the UC-324NFC determines the zero point after you step off).

Test procedure

I used 20kg weights to test the scales at 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 kg. This procedure was repeated 3 times for each scale (I did a lot of weight lifting that day).

test
Creative Commons LicenseThis image by digitalscalesblog.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Results

The first column gives you the nominal weight (in kg) and the next three are the values as shown by the scales.

Withings WS-30

4040.240.240.2
6060.360.360.3
8080.480.380.3
100100.3100.4100.4
120120.4120.4120.4

Fitbit Aria

4040.240.240.1
6060.260.260.2
8080.280.280.2
100100.3100.3100.3
120120.3120.3120.4

A&D UC-324NFC

4039.9539.9539.95
6060.0059.9560.00
8080.0080.0079.95
100100.00100.00100.00
120120.00120.00120.00

As you can see, A&D’s UC-324NFC was the most accurate scale, never deviating by more than 50g from the true value. Its 50g resolution and gravity compensation function certainly paid off.

However, the Fibit and Withings scales did a great job, too. Looking at the measurement results in each row, you’ll see that they are either identical or off by just one scale interval (100g). We can therefore say that these scales were slightly less accurate, but still very precise* (or that their repeatability was still excellent). As far as your body weight is concerned, you’ll generally be less interested in absolute values and more in tracking changes (“am I loosing or gaining weight”) and these scales would be perfectly suitable for this purpose. Nevertheless, I was a bit surprised that Fitbit and Withings didn’t use the location I had entered during account creation to adjust the scale for the local gravity acceleration. This would most likely have improved their accuracy.

Overall, the results are very good. As far as I can tell from this test, you’re not just paying for the “smart” features, you get accurate scales, too.

Further information / where to buy:

Disclosure:

  • Some links above are affiliate links.
  • My company used to sell A&D’s UC-324NFC in our German scales shop, but we don’t anymore. The Withings WS-30 and Fitbit Aria were purchased at retail prices, A&D’s UC-324NFC was purchased with a dealer discount.

*Meaning of accuracy and precision (as used in this article):
Accuracy and precision explained


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