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Thread: Ballistic testing- strain gauge

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Ballistic testing- strain gauge

    Hi I am Mark M.

    New here and just looking for information about testing chamber pressures using a strain gauge or possibly the RSI Pressure Trace II system.

    I understand that there is a gentleman by the name of Larry Gibson that might have some experience in this area.

    Thanks in advance for any help offered.

    Mark
    Mark

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Larry uses a different brand of system, but the principle is basically the same. I have the Pressure Trace II system. My advice is don't look to the internet for answers. The guys who developed the Pressure Trace II are more than knowledgeable. Every question you can possibly have is in the operating manual, but it can be tough to digest. In that case, a call to them is the way to go.

    If you are simply looking to see it in action, I often shoot in Hecla, which is right against the SD/ND border. You are welcome to try mine out.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Newboy's Avatar
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    Using strain gauges is good tool, but the results are merely comparative pressures. I have never seen anyone calibrate any system to give quantitative results.

    Firing a factory cartridge and assuming it's pressure is not a calibration!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Newboy View Post
    Using strain gauges is good tool, but the results are merely comparative pressures. I have never seen anyone calibrate any system to give quantitative results.

    Firing a factory cartridge and assuming it's pressure is not a calibration!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    That's nonsense. All you need is a load you know the pressure of. Pressure Trace II has a way to calibrate based off that. Technically you are calibrating based off another test gun, and their calibration, so I guess you are half right. What matters most is that the measurements you input are dead on. If your barrel OD, ID, and case wall thickness are entered accurately, then I've found little reason to mess with calibration. Weather is a much bigger concern. I'm not sure how you could reasonably pressure test when it's -10 out, no matter the calibration.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    A tungsten shot vendor / ammo manufacturer is using Pressure Trace here in Finland. They also provide pressure testing service.

    I've been drooling the system for years...

    If it's good enough for making commercial ammo, it is good enough fo me as well.

    http://www.ammox.fi/latauspaketit.html

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks megasupermagnum. I am leaning towards the Pressure Trace II as it is all there and pretty much ready to go. What do you use for a computer?

    True you can't calibrate the Pressure Trace II, but you can't calibrate the SAAMI piezoelectric transducer system either. Which means you have to have reference ammunition. Not really a huge issue. My use for this system is shotshells and it is reasonably easy to have ammo tested and assigned pressure and velocity values, which you than use to correct for any differences between what your system reads and the assigned values.
    Mark

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I have both the Oehler M43 and a Pressure Trace II system. I've 15 years' experience with the M43 PBL having tested thousands of rounds of many different out of 30+ different test firearms.

    megasupermagnum is correct, the Pressure Trace operating manual (available online at their site) is a treasure trove of information regarding ballistic test. Suggest you go to their site, download the manual and read it. I will be glad to answer any questions then.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Newboy View Post
    Using strain gauges is good tool, but the results are merely comparative pressures. I have never seen anyone calibrate any system to give quantitative results.

    Firing a factory cartridge and assuming it's pressure is not a calibration!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Yes, strain gauge measuring is a good tool. The use of "reference ammunition" is the industry standard to "calibrate" the various test fixtures used by various manufacturers. The Oehler M83 is more often used by many manufacturers of ammunition also.

    You might want to go to the SAAMI site and read their manual, specifically the use of reference ammunition to calibrate pressure test fixtures. The use of reference ammunition is industry standard because the pressure of the reference ammunition is known. When fired in a test fixture, which probably will give a different pressure, the difference between the two pressures gives a "correction factor" which is then used through further testing with that test barrel. It is how it is done contrary to what many think and most internet rumors.

    I use factory ammunition to "calibrate" my own test barrels. I have gotten the tested pressure of the lot numbers of that ammunition from the manufacturers. I've also duplicated loads from manuals that list complete details of the load components along with their psi measurement of that load. It is surprising how close they can be.

    As to 'comparative pressures? that is correct. But you have to remember that pressures listed by the major manufacturers are also simply comparative. When you look at factory or loading manual listed pressures from the test fixtures (simply a different type of firearm) they are simply "comparative" to any other firearm.

    Also do not believe that all factory ammunition is loaded to the SAAMI MAP for that cartridge. Some are but most are not. If you further read the SAAMI manual, you will see the "standard" to which factory ammunition is loaded. Maybe you shouldn't read it, it might just disappoint you.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks Larry. On my way to the RSI site.
    Mark

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Thank you Larry. That explained alot to me in a very easy to understand way.
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Male Guanaco out in dry lakebed at 10,800 feet south of Arequipa.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    Strain gauges are easy to calibrate. Your electronic scale uses one. What is difficult is translating that 'calibration' over to your barrel. Piezos are only good for transient stuff. Been used in fish finders for a long time.
    Whatever!

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogchaser37 View Post
    Thanks megasupermagnum. I am leaning towards the Pressure Trace II as it is all there and pretty much ready to go. What do you use for a computer?

    True you can't calibrate the Pressure Trace II, but you can't calibrate the SAAMI piezoelectric transducer system either. Which means you have to have reference ammunition. Not really a huge issue. My use for this system is shotshells and it is reasonably easy to have ammo tested and assigned pressure and velocity values, which you than use to correct for any differences between what your system reads and the assigned values.
    It's no different than calibrating a scale with a standard. The only difference is your standard ammunition is subject to a whole bunch of variability. I don't do much with rifles, since they show good pressure signs, and ultimately are not that hard to load for. I use my system mostly for shotguns, which have no pressure signs, and a million variables. The good thing there is you can send some ammo off to Tom Armbrust for testing, and calibrate to his setup. In the settings there is an input I think called offset. You can adjust the program by how far off the pressure is from what it should read. The only caveat is that you have to calibrate when it is about the same temperature as he did. After that first calibration, I don't see any reason to shoot standard loads, as the different weather will effect your results. You will know if your system is working right by getting good smooth pressure curves.

    I use a Lenovo thinkpad. I have no idea how the system works on MAC. Just about any Microsoft laptop will work. The system needs bluetooth to read, but you can buy cheap little dongles that do that if it doesn't already. Pretty much any computer built in the last 10 years should have bluetooth.

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks megasupermagnum, I am all set with the computer also. The RSI website was informative. When the weather warms up a bit, you know what I will be doing.

    BTW Do I recognize your username from either SGW or 16ga.com?
    Mark

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogchaser37 View Post
    Thanks megasupermagnum, I am all set with the computer also. The RSI website was informative. When the weather warms up a bit, you know what I will be doing.

    BTW Do I recognize your username from either SGW or 16ga.com?
    I do have an account on shotgun world, but it has been quite some time since I posted there. It's kind of an uppidy, game-shooter atmosphere, where trying to ask about loading hunting loads will not get a good answer. I have been on 16ga, not so much this past year. I made an informal test for myself, hunting the entire year with a 10 gauge muzzleloader for all small game. That's exactly what I did. I killed a spring turkey, a handful of squirrel and rabbits, a ton of ducks and geese, pheasant, and hopefully yet a winter turkey, all with that one muzzleloading shotgun. My 16 gauge 11-48 sits in the safe, but I did shoot a black bear with it in September. 16ga is a good site, although they are a bit uptight about working with different 16 gauge loads beyond the norm. There is one member on that site that is more knowledgeable than me about 16 gauge's by far, but he too is somewhat stuck in his way. Still a great source of info. I think his username started with MSM by coincidence. I love the 16 gauge for what it is, a light little gun with a big bore, but I'm not afraid to do different things. Besides normal lead shot loads, I'm always playing with bismuth, obviously figured out a good slug load for bears, buckshot. You always see how a 16 gauge is useless with more than 1 1/8 oz of shot. I always figured you couldn't fit much more. Well as it is, I've got some 1 5/8 oz turkey loads ready to pressure test, so space is no concern at all.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks......MSM2019 is my username on 16ga.com. I do my best. I am here because I was told that there were folks here that knew about using strain gauges. I want to do some stuff but sending ammo to be tested is too much time wasted and gets expensive. I only hunt with a 16 unless it is the rare waterfowl hunt. I love the gauge. Took 3 turkeys, sharptails, huns and pheasant with it this year. Had a blast with my young GSP, he is really coming into his own. My female GSP, she's about 7.5 now did a nice job too. All my best and thanks to everyone here.
    Mark

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master


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    You are the the one I was thinking of. I'm not sure there's much I can do for you about 16 gauges that you don't already know, but I'll gladly help on the Pressure Trace II if I can.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    Talking about loads for the 16 gauge. I came up with some ideas awhile back and made a nice buffered bismuth load, which lead to a steel load, which lead to a buffered 1 1/4 oz. lead turkey load, which ended up with a buffered 1 1/4 oz. of 5's for pheasant. You are correct, there is plenty of room in the hull for a larger payload. I used Steel powder for the loads I just mentioned. That is some of the stuff I want to work with and the reason why I inquired about the strain gauge stuff. I always wanted the piezo setup complete with universal receiver and test barrels, but that idea went out the window with prices being about $15000+ for one gauge. Just too much for a guy that wants to play now and then.
    Mark

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Yeah, I was blown away when I saw the Pressure Trace was only $600. I see it is now $750, but still a good deal when it was $50 a pop to have a load tested by Tom Armbrust, and that's probably more now too. I've been very pleased with the system. It's not perfect, but it does what it says it will. About my only complaint is that the strain gauge wires are delicate. They have to be, else you'd have a giant thing on your barrel. Those gauges are the big cost, as they are not reusable. I like to use the 3" jumper wire they sell, it adds freedom so you aren't pulling on the tiny strain gauge wires. I then duct tape the main cable right to the barrel. Yes, duct tape. There's probably more elaborate ways to do it, but I just stick it on there, and it doesn't' move. They send a little Velcro strap with, but I couldn't get it to hold, and recoil caused the wire to move around too much. Attaching the strain gauges to the barrels is simple enough, just a little tricky. You only get one shot at it, so if you don't get it right, you just threw away that money. So far I've only lost one because I accidentally glued my finger to the wire, and tore the wire off. Speaking of which, these strain gauges will be on the barrel permanently. You can take them off with some acetone, but you can't reuse them. You can still hunt with them on there, but if you snag that tiny wire, you will ruin the gauge. What I did was dedicate a gun or barrel for each. In 12 gauge I use a Mossberg 500 barrel that I don't use for anything else. In 16 gauge I use a Stevens 506a that I don't like that much. In 10 gauge I use a barrel that I don't intend on using much, only for deer hunting which isn't hard on guns.

    I had no problems with computer setup, but being a Millennial, I was born with that ability. The way this system works is that you have the program on your laptop, which you download from their CD. The Pressure Trace II itself is in a yellow Pelican case, which connects to your PC wirelessly with bluetooth. That's probably the toughest part for most people. From the yellow box, a cable runs to your gun, specifically the strain gauge. If it is a sunny day, seeing the screen of your computer can be tough. Usually I drape a shirt over my head to see.

    So ultimately what you have is a system that cost as much or less as a decent shotgun, is surprisingly precise, but the handicaps are you have a delicate strain gauge that is permanently attached to something, and because of weather, ammo, and other variables can't be as accurate as what the labs do. If you could shoot in your heated garage year round, you could probably do some really good work with one. Even outdoors, I find mine a very valuable tool. I still use load data as best I can to estimate, but this system is a million times better than guessing.

  19. #19
    Boolit Mold
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    I could probably shoot in my garage as it is heated, but not so sure my better half would care for the noise. If you were to send Tom Armbrust, because I know he uses SAAMI reference ammunition, some loads and told him what you were doing with them you would have some pretty good in house reference of your own. The loads would have to be something like a 1 oz. target load, 1 1/4 oz. heavy lead(maybe buffered) and maybe a steel shot or Bismuth load or something really heavy like that 1 5/8 oz. load. That would cover the 16 gauge pretty well, just depends on what loads you want to develop. Some folks think a target load is enough, but it really isn't. Look at the SAAMI reference load section, that may give you some ideas. With actual reference loads you know that you will be on the money with your pressures.
    Mark

  20. #20
    Boolit Mold
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    As far as guns, I am going to buy another barrel for a 16 gauge 870 I already have, that way I don't have to be so careful. I use the 870 for turkey hunting.
    Mark

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