How it works
With the rotating part resting on the bearings, a vibration sensor is attached to the suspension. In most soft-bearing machines, a velocity sensor is used. This sensor works by moving a magnet in relation to a fixed coil that generates voltage proportional to the velocity of the vibration. Accelerometers, which measure acceleration of the vibration, can also be used.
A photocell (sometimes called a phaser), proximity sensor, or encoder is used to determine the rotational speed, as well as the relative phase of the rotating part. This phase information is then used to filter the vibration information to determine the amount of movement, or force, in one rotation of the part. Also, the time difference between the phase and the vibration peak gives the angle at which the unbalance exists. Amount of unbalance and angle of unbalance give an unbalance vector.
Calibration is performed by adding a known weight at a known angle. In a soft-bearing machine, trial weights must be added in correction planes for each part. This is because the location of the correction planes along the rotational axis is unknown, and therefore it is unknown how much a given amount of weight will affect the balance. By using trial weights, a known weight at a known angle is added, and getting the unbalance vector caused by it.