3 Things to Know About Cable Tensiometer or Aircraft Tension Meter Calibration

#3 Best Things to Know About Cable Tensiometer or Aircraft Tension Meter Calibration

At Morehouse, we build force machines for all types of force applications including cable tensiometer calibration.  We build machines and supply cable sets for aircraft cable tension meter calibration from Pacific Scientific, Opti Mfg, and types such as T5 & T60 cable tensiometers. This article is going to explain why machine selection is important as well as selecting the proper cable set.

#1. What is a Cable Tensiometer?

Aircraft Cable Tension Meter
Cable Tensiometer Close Up in Morehouse Tension Meter Calibrator

A cable tensiometer is a device with an accuracy specification that is typically 1-5 % of capacity force. They are used to check the tension of wire cables (typically used in aircraft rigging and textile manufacturer).

They use a force gauge to react against the cable, via a riser, and display the result, through a gearbox, onto a dial scale.  The dial is often just a linear scale numbered 0 through 100, a conversion table is then drawn up to convert the number to a meaningful result in lbf.


#2. Machine selection to calibrate Cable Tensiometer or Aircraft Tension Meter Calibration

Cable Tension Meter
Morehouse PCM-2MD-T1 Cable Tensiometer Machine

Some might say that fixing a cable to a beam and using the bucket method or hanging a bunch of masses is good enough to perform calibration on Cable Tension Meters. We have found it isn't. Another common method is using torque calibration equipment and back calculating the force value.


Unsafe Aircraft Tension Meter Calibration
Unsafe and Metrologically untraceable "Bucket" Cable Tensiometer Calibration Method

These common methods create very unsafe conditions as if the weights fall or the cables snap, they pose a serious safety concern, and typically the measurement traceability as far as propagating measurement uncertainty correctly is flawed. Meaning there is no good way to account for and measure all of the unknown error sources associated with cable tensiometer measurement with these machines.

That is why we developed a safer alternative with our  PCM-2MD-T1 Tensiometer machine.

The Mechanical Tensiometer Calibrator is an easy-to-use solution for problems associated with calibrating force instruments and cable tension meters (tensiometers) up to 2,000 lbf capacity. This machine provides the user with fine and stable control on the applied force and offers a large working area to test tensiometers on standard cable lengths of 5 ft. The Cable Tensiometer Machine is capable of controlling force application as low as 0.005 lbf based on the resolution of the reference standard used.

The system is equipped with several time-saving features that enable quality force calibration on a wide range of force sensors such as shear web load cells, S-type load cells, force gauges, button load cells, beam load cells, etc.

The Morehouse PCM-2MD-T1 Tensiometer Machine is a High-Value when compared to paying someone to manually lift weights onto a pan and take a reading. Morehouse PCM-2MD-T1 Tensiometer Machine is High-Value in terms of versatility – Can calibrate Dynamometers, load cells, S-type load cells, force gauges, hand-held force gauges, button load cells, washer load cells, beam load cells. The system has an accuracy of better than 0.05 %

More information on this Tensiometer machine can be found here.

Morehouse offers a primary standard deadweight machine for the calibration of Cable Tensiometers and Aircraft Tension Meter

Aircraft Tension Meter
Morehouse Deadweight Cable Tensiometer Calibrator Machine Known to Better than 0.01 % of applied force


The Morehouse Tensiometer Calibrator is capable of testing all types of dynamometers from 10 to 2,000 lbf, small load cells ranging up to 2,000 lbf, and cable tensiometers, including but not limited to C-5, C-6, C-7, C-8, and C-9 with the range of 10 to 2000 pounds tension.

This machine is the most accurate machine for the calibration of cable tensiometers.

The Morehouse Deadweight Tensiometer Calibrator makes full use of the accuracy of deadweights for applying the required force. The yoke assembly, which is a calibrated weight, supports the weights selected for the application and bears directly on the unit under test. There are no lever or hydraulic multipliers, pulleys, or the like between the weight complement and the unit under test. The calibrator does not use transducers or load cells to simulate deadweight loads. It uses actual deadweights for applying the required load in pounds-force (lbf). For ease of use, the weights contained in the calibrator’s frame are power-assisted when being raised and lowered. The weights are raised and lowered using low-pressure pneumatic lifts.

More information on this Cable Tensiometer machine can be found here.

#3. Cable Selection & Calibration of Cable Tensiometers or Aircraft Tension Meter

cable tensiometer set
Morehouse Custom Aircraft tension meter sets for tensiometer calibration


We want the force gauge in the cable tensiometer to act against the appropriate riser using the proper cable. Cables made out of the appropriate material, with the appropriate length as smaller cables will have more tension and less deflection than stiffer ones. Thus, the USAF has determined a proper length of approximately 60 inches should be used. I personally have tested 12  - 18 inch cables and have found the results to differ greatly when compared to a 60-inch cable.

Cable Tensiometer
Morehouse Cable Tensiometer Specifications

Morehouse A cable set comprises a bundle of 9 cables of different diameters but a common length of 60 inches, designed to calibrate the majority of cable tensiometers. These are the most common cables we have been asked to provide over the years.

Calibration is often done by loading to the same force point several times and taking an average of the readings. The tensiometers should be calibrated based on use and other factors. Some common problems to watch for are physical damage, overstretching of the spring (which can happen when the correct riser is not installed for calibration), corrosion, and damaged risers.

Aircraft Tension Meter Calibration - Conclusion

I take great pride in our knowledgeable team at Morehouse, who continue to work with everyone, clarify complex topics, and provide tools such as free guidance documents, excel sheets, and products to help you make better force measurements. We want to ensure everyone understands how to choose the right force machines to calibrate cable tensiometers.

At Morehouse, we educate our customers and provide solutions to you. Most of these solutions are available for free to help you make better measurements and can be found here.

We have been in business for over a century and focus on being the most recognized name in the crane scale calibration business. That vision comes from educating our customers on what matters most and having the proper discussions about cable tensiometer calibration.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our LinkedIn and YouTube channel for more helpful posts and videos.

Everything we do, we believe in changing how people think about force and torque calibration. We challenge the "just calibrate it" mentality by educating our customers on what matters, what causes significant errors, and how to focus on reducing them.

In addition, Morehouse makes simple-to-use calibration products. We build excellent force equipment that is plumb, level, square, and rigid. Morehouse provides unparalleled calibration service with less than two-week lead times.

Want to watch the video on why use Morehouse for your load cell calibration? That can be found @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgY4n4z3xGU&t=5s

Please contact us @ 717-843-0081 to talk to a live person or email info@mhforce.com. Visit us on the web at mhforce.com.

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