Monday, October 15, 2012

Troubleshooting Tips for the 507C Sonic Tension Meter

The Gates Sonic Tension Meter is an excellent tool for measuring belt tension. It is the most reliable and easiest to use electronic belt tension tool in the industry. Despite this, some explanations to a few reoccurring questions might be helpful to Sonic Tension Meter users.
1)  Don’t Know Whether The Readings Are Correct For the Belt Drive. The Sonic Tension Meter measures belt tension levels, but does not indicate if the readings are correct. Determine the correct belt tension levels using Design Flex Web / Design Flex Pro / or Design IQ drive design software. Drive design printouts provide recommended belt tension levels as well as all meter constants. All Gates drive design tools are available at

2)  Can’t Obtain A Belt Tension Reading. The green light illuminates during the tension reading process indicating the meter is receiving a signal from the sensor. If the green light does not illuminate, move the sensor closer to the vibrating belt span or pluck the belt span harder. The belt may also not be tight enough to generate a signal, so tightening the belt may help.

The meter may also be set in an inappropriate frequency range. The frequency range setting can be seen in the upper left corner of the screen. “L” = Low (10 - 50 hz); “S” = Standard (10 – 600 hz); “H” = High (500 – 5000 hz). The “S” or standard range is sufficient for the vast majority of readings. To change, hold the “0” or “Range” button down for 2 sec and press the “Up” and “Down” buttons. Save the selection by pressing “Measure” or by powering the meter off (press the “Power” button for 2 sec). 

Lastly, standard microphone sensors cannot detect frequencies less than about 30 hz. Use the optional Inductive Sensor to read frequencies down to 10 hz. The Inductive Sensor is also very helpful in windy or noisy environments when microphone sensors do not deliver belt tension signals.

3)  Meter Displays Tension In The Wrong Units. The Sonic Tension Meter can display belt tension in units of Newtons, Pounds and Kilograms. With the meter powered off, press “0” and “9” and “Power” buttons at the same time and the three unit options will appear. Then select a unit using the “Select” button and save by powering the meter off (press the “Power” button for 2 sec.).

4)  Meter Displays “Error” When Taking Tension Readings. The “Error” message indicates that an error has been encountered in computing belt tension. The red light typically illuminates on the first reading, then the “Error” message is displayed on the third reading and the meter freezes. When this occurs, power the meter off and on and then confirm that the correct “Mass”, “Width” and “Span” constants are correct.

Note that non-zero register values are required to prevent errors in the internal meter computations from division by zero. Also note that non-zero register values are required even if using the meter in the frequency only mode. While the register values don’t have to be correct for belt span frequency readings, they can produce an “Error” message if the calculations overflow the meter display. If so, using correct constants will eliminate the “Error” message.

5)  Battery Life Is Short. Fresh alkaline batteries should provide 20 to 24 hours of continuous meter operation. Rechargeable batteries are not recommended as the voltage output is less than the required 1.5 volts, so will not power the meter sufficiently. Because of this, the meter may indicate that non alkaline batteries are discharged prematurely.
If you have additional questions,feel free to email the Gates Product Application Engineering Group at or call us at (303) 744-5800.

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