A dilatometer is an instrument used to measure the thermal expansion for a given substance. A micro-controller based thermo dilatometer is being used for thermal expansion studies of materials here. The expansion in the desired direction is measured by a sensitive LVDT (Linear Variable Differential Transducer) that is mounted over the push-rod & the sample assembly. A nichrome wound furnace provides the required constant heat zone around the sample. The generation of thermal profile for the furnace is realized in the software and power to the furnace is controlled using programmable hardware. The measurement of sample
temperature, furnace temperature, room temperature and the processed LVDT signal are done in synchronization with the thermal profile data.

The system logs all the parameters in a file and presents the same with an online graph.The micro-controller-based instrumentation is developed using customized cards featuring time base, timers, counters, digital I/O lines etc. The system includes various modules like signal conditioning circuits, data acquisition components, software based thermal program generator, data logger and graphical display. The necessary signal processing like linearization, cold junction compensation, signal averaging etc. is also done with the software.The user interactive routines, hardware interactive routines and display routines are all developed in LabVIEW 7.0. All communication between the PC-microcontroller takes place using RS-232 protocol.

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