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Tune it right: Easy guide to belt tensioning

belt tensioning


Adjusting tension in a drive belt can be a lot like tuning strings on a guitar. That is given the right tools are at hand to provide correct tension readings on the belt, and accurate calculations to determine the tensioning parameters.

Both of those aspects are easily taken care of with Gates’ 508C Sonic Tension Meter and the Gates’ Design FlexProTM drive design software.

As Gates Australia’s business development manager Iain Street elaborates, the 508C Sonic Tension Meter can determine precise tension in Gates’ v-belts and synchronous belts by inputting the required belt frequency, as well as three simple parameters: the belt mass, the belt width and the belt span length.

To determine the optimal belt frequency for any drive design, the Gates Design FlexProTM design software is the go-to tool for all drive engineers that can provide them with the required 508C Sonic Tension Meter frequency for any belt drive in a simple report. Manual calculation can also be used to determine the frequency.

But, as Street points out, there are tips and tricks to using the tool correctly that can ensure accurate belt set-up. Firstly, he says the attachments on the 508C Sonic Tension Meter should be selected with due consideration for the application.

“The standard sensor for the 508C Sonic Tension Meter is a microphone that ‘listens’ to the vibrations in the belt. This is the same principle used for tuning guitar strings. You set the desired vibration frequency in the Tension Meter, tap the belt span to make the belt vibrate and bring the microphone sensor close to the belt without touching the belt. The green LED light will continue to flash until a signal is received by the sensor. After the signal is processed, the measured belt tension is displayed.”

However, for noisy environments where a high level of ambient noise may interfere with the reading, Street suggests replacing the microphone sensor with an optional inductive sensor.

“The optional cord type inductive sensor relies on a magnetic field rather than on sound waves. This allows tension measurements to be taken in both noisy and windy environments. For the inductive sensor to function, a magnetic field must be present on the belt. This can be easily accomplished by taping a small magnet to the back of the belt.”

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