With a PB-3 and an Android™ device you can ...
Balance Gyroplane and Helicopter rotors
Analyse vibration problems
The PB‑3 is a sophisticated electronic device that measures the vibration produced by an out of balance propeller or rotor and sends that information to an Android™ smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth® wireless technology.
The Propeller Balancer App is an Android† app that provides the user interface for the PB‑3. It features 4 main views:
|Polar chart||Spectrum display|
|Used when balancing||Used to diagnose vibration problems|
|Numeric display||Graphical Display|
|Simple readout of vibration level||Another diagnostic tool|
The PB‑3 can be used on a wide variety of propellers, engines and airframes - from Microlights to Warbirds, 2-strokes to Turboprops. Take a look at the customer photo gallery to see examples of the PB-3 in use.
†The app is not compatible with the iPad or iPhone.
The PB-3 propeller balancer kit comprises:
† standard length for the propeller balancing kit is 3M - other lengths available on request.
The kit does not include a charger (the PB-3 requires a 5V USB charger as used by mobile phones). If you need (yet another!) charger, one can be supplied for free (UK or European style mains plug only).
The rotor balancing kit also includes a Red LED Tacho Sensor & cable.
This sensor is designed specifically for measuring the RPM of rotors.
Features of this sensor are:
BTW, if you think the PB-3 is expensive, consider this: the price of a PB-3 + the cost of a new, good quality, Android tablet is still only about 1/4 of the cost of the cheapest alternative brand of dynamic balancer product (with similar features) currently on sale worldwide.
An Android device is not supplied with the PB‑3.
A mounting bracket for the vibration sensor if it cannot be directly attached to the front of the engine. Often this is simply a strip of metal with a couple of holes drilled in it. Exactly what is required depends on the engine type and installation.
For rotor balancing, one or two mounting brackets are required to mount the accelerometer and the tacho sensor.
Often, only one bracket will be required for both sensors as shown here in this picture of the sensors mounted on the rotorhead of an ELA gyro:
Here's another photo showing the sensors mounted on a Dynali Helicopter using a simple "L" shaped bracket.
Full details of how the PB‑3, tacho sensor and the app are used can be found in these documents:
Before you can install the app, you need to tell your Android device that it's OK to install non-Market applications.
Go to Menu > Settings > Applications and make sure that the Unknown Sources checkbox is checked.
Using a barcode scanning app, you can download the latest version of the propeller balancer app directly to your Android device using the QR code on the right. Alternatively, click on the QR code to start the download.
You must accept these permissions for the app to be installed:
The app release history is here.
The Propeller Balancer app uses the services of a 3rd party File Manager app, the OI File Manager - you can install that app from either the Android Market or directly from Open Intents.
The PB‑3 firmware is easily updated - when they become available, firmware updates can be downloaded from here.
The Android device must be running version 2.1 (Eclair) or higher and support Bluetooth SPP.
At this time, all Android devices have screens that are not easily viewed when directly illuminated by bright sunlight. Some are better than others in this respect. So, before you buy an expensive Android phone or tablet for use with a PB‑3, you are advised to check how visible its screen is in direct sunlight.
It is strongly recommended that you use a device that has a capacitive touch-screen as they are much easier to use than devices that have resistive touch-screens. This is especially true for small screens. For larger screens, the insensitivity of resistive screens is less of a problem (but still annoying!)
For propeller balancing, the app is quite usable on small screens (e.g. phones). For rotor balancing, the 7" tablet format is ideal because the screen is large enough to be easy to use but the device is not so large as to be unmanageable.
The PB‑3 should work with many different Android devices. Here are a few it is known to work with:
|Name||Type||Touch Screen||Android Version||Comments|
|Amlogic A9||Tablet||Resistive||2.2||Very cheap but display is not good in direct sunlight.|
|Archos 70||Tablet||Capacitive||2.2||Cheap (was back then) tablet but rather slugish and display is too dim for really bright conditions.|
|Asus TF101||Tablet||Capacitive||3.2.1 & 4.0.3||Nice (expensive) tablet but, if anything, rather too large to hold easily.|
|Google Nexus 7||Tablet||Capacitive||4.1.2 & 4.2 & 4.4||Superb tablet for the price and very good for use with the PB-3 - if the screen was a little brighter it would be perfect. Android 4.2 has some issues, still evaluating.|
|HTC ChaCha||Phone||Capacitive||2.3.5||Small, high density, landscape display and hardware keyboard. Fairly cheap and with reasonable sunlight readability. Good match to the PB-3.|
|HTC Desire||Phone||Capacitive||2.2 & 2.3.7||Reasonably bright, large display (for a phone).|
|Motorola Flipout||Phone||Capacitive||2.1||This odd little phone has a small display and a novel flipout keyboard but it's cheap, robust and quite usable with the PB-3.|
|Samsung Galaxy Europa GT-i5500||Phone||Capacitive||2.1||Small but usable display (no multitouch).|
|Tesco Hudl||Tablet||Capacitive||4.2||Very cheap yet good build quality and performance.|
Finally, if you obtain an unlocked Android phone, you can then use a pay-as-you-go SIM card in it thus avoiding the need to sign up for an expensive monthly contract. In the UK, one of the cheapest options is giffgaff.
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