Understanding about Tilt Sensor, Types and Working with Applications

The Paris Air show is one of the biggest shows for airplane manufacturers. Some of the valiant pilots perform amazing stunts to showcase the speed of their planes. These pilots use the power of the super-fast machinery of their planes to make their stunts better for their support. A tilt sensor is one of the critical parts of this computer assisted circuitry, and it is a type of transducer. This sensor helps in giving information about the horizontal and vertical inclination of the airplanes so that the pilot of the plane can easily understand the process of dealing with the obstacles during the flight.

Thus transducers play an important role in decision making for the pilots. Such types of sensors produce an electrical signal which is proportional to the degree of inclination with respect to one or more axes. These sensors play a very important role in several applications such as off road vehicles, portable computers, robotics devices, aviation instruments, etc.

Tilt Sensor
Tilt Sensor

A sensor is a device that responds to some type of the input from the environment such as heat, light, motion, temperature, pressure and moisture. Sensors are used to switch currents and voltages. Every sensor has three terminals: Vcc, GND and output. Vcc is used to power up the sensor; to provide a fixed negative reference, ground is used, and the output of the sensor is analog. But in some sensors, there may be more than one output terminals.

Block Diagram of Sensor
Block Diagram of Sensor

Types of Sensors

  • Sensors are classified into different types:
  • Light Detecting Sensor
  • Temperature Sensor
  • Gas Sensor
  • Humidity sensor
  • Ultrasonic Sensor
  • Motion Sensor
  • Force Sensor
  • Analog sensor
  • Digital sensor
  • Color Sensor
  • Distance Sensor
  • Proximity Sensor
  • Ultrasonic Sensor
  • Magnetic Sensor
  • Pressure Sensor
  • Infrared Sensor
  • Robot Sensor
Types of Sensor
Types of Sensors

Tilt sensors

Tilt sensors are devices that produce an electrical signal that varies with an angular movement. These sensors are used to measure slope and tilt within a limited range of motion. Sometimes, the tilt sensors are referred to as inclinometers because the sensors just generate a signal but inclinometers generate both readout and a signal.

Tilt Sensor Working Principle

Tilt Sensor working
Tilt Sensor working

These sensors consist of a rolling ball with a conductive plate beneath them. When the sensor gets power, the rolling ball falls to the bottom of the sensor to form an electrical connection. When the sensor is tilted, the rolling ball doesn’t fall to the bottom so that the current cannot flow the two end terminals of the sensor.

Tilt Sensor Circuit

Required components for tilt sensor circuit

  • Tilt Sensor
  • 470 Ohms Resistor
  • Led or Load
  • DC Voltage Source

A basic circuit that uses a tilt sensor is shown below.

Tilt Sensor Circuit
Tilt Sensor Circuit

When the device gets power and is in its upright position, then the rolling ball settle at the bottom of the sensor to form an electrical connection between the two end terminals of the sensor. Next the circuit becomes short circuit and the LED gets sufficient current. If the circuit gets tilted so that the rolling ball doesn’t settle at the bottom of the sensor with the electrical conduction path, then the circuit becomes open. This is about the circuit operation.

Tilt Sensor Types

These Sensors are classified into different types and the classification of these sensors includes different devices and technologies to measure tilt, slope, elevation and inclination.

Force Balance Sensor

Force Balance Sensor
Force Balance Sensor

These sensors are gravity referenced sensors and are anticipated for DC acceleration measurements like ships, vehicles, aircraft and seismic events. These sensors are frequently used in inclinometers and tilt meters. Force balance sensors are capable of measuring levels from 0.0001g to 200g, and the frequency range is from DC to 1000Hz. The advantages of these sensors include their high accuracy, a change in broad measurement, insensitivity to temperature change and their high accuracy. The disadvantage of this sensor is its high cost.

MEMS Sensor

MEMS Sensor
MEMS Sensor

Solid state MEMS are small sensors as they consist of movable proof mass plates that are attached to a reference frame through a mechanical suspension system. This is a technique of combining mechanical and electrical components together on a chip to generate a system of miniature dimensions. Small means that the dimensions are less than the thickness of human hair. MEMS sensors are key components in many medical, industrial, aerospace, consumer and automotive applications. These sensors are used in anything from smart phones, gaming, medical tests and satellites. Steps to fabrication of MEMS involve the basic IC fabrication method.

Fluid filled Sensor:

These Sensors can either be capacitive or electrolytic.

Electrolytic Sensor

Electrolytic Sensor
Electrolytic Sensor

The electrolytic sensor is used to measure an angle and the angle may be expressed in degrees, arc minutes, or arc seconds. Electrolytic sensors produce extremely accurate pitch measurements in many applications. These sensors easily maintain their high accuracy and small size. These sensors function by using cavity filled with fluid or a glass. The fluid performs between a common positive and negative electrode. When the electrolytic sensor is levelled, both the positive and negative electrodes get consistently submerged within the fluid and produce a balanced signal output. When the sensor is rotated, an imbalance is created between the two electrodes. So, the imbalance of any one of the electrodes is proportional to the angle of the rotation.

Capacitive Tilt Sensors

These types of sensors are designed to take non-contact measurements of inclination and tilt. These can operate both as switches and sensors. When the geometry of the capacitor is changed, the capacitor sensor relies on variation of capacitor. Here, the capacitive sensing is independent of the base material. These devices consist of a suspension beams, comb drive capacitors and central proof mass. When a tilt occurs, the central mass moves towards one of the combs so the capacitance increases at one side and decreases at the other side. The main advantage of the capacitive sensor is its performance ratio and cost-effectiveness, whereas a limited response is the main disadvantage of this sensor.


When selecting a tilt sensor, we should consider a few distinct specifications as shown below:

  • Number of Axes
  • Resolution
  • Measuring Range
  • Sensitivity
  • Noise Tolerance
  • Output
  • Vibration

Applications of Tilt Sensors

These sensors are used in many different applications. They are:

  • Cameras
  • Video Cameras
  • Aircraft Flight Controls
  • Construction Equipment
  • Robotic Technology
  • Automobile Air Bags
  • Videos Game Controllers
  • Studying Human Movement
  • Thermostats
  • Automobile Security Systems

This is all about the tilt sensors, applications and specifications. We believe that the information about the different types of sensors will help you to know about them for your requirements. Apart from this, for additional information regarding this topic, please give your suggestions and feedback in the comment section below.

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