Vibration testing used to require costly and complicated equipment that could only be purchased from specialty suppliers. This made testing the vibration from common household appliances and other sources very difficult and expensive. In fact, just about the only reasonable option used to be to call in an expert. But all that has changed.
Thanks to revolution of cool new smartphone apps that take advantage of the tilt and accelerometer sensors built into the iPhone and Android devices there is a new option. There are a number of slick new applications available that allow anyone with a smartphone to measure just about any source of vibration anywhere they want to. Here we are going to detail a few of these apps. Before we go into the specific features of these apps, it is important to note that they are all designed to offer inexpensive vibration measurements using non-scientific quality sensors. The results that they produce are amazingly accurate but for the most accurate scientific grade measurements it is best to go with professional grade equipment. Basically, don't try to claim that your smartphone's test data disproves lab results.
Popular iPhone Vibration Meter App:
Vibration - By Diffraction Limited Design LLC - Price: $4.99
This is our favorite vibration meter app. It combines a very easy to use interface with great visual charts that make reading test results a piece of cake. Sample rates can be set between 10Hz and 100Hz. Results can be saved as screenshots that can then easily be shared via text or email with other devices. Plots diagrams show motion on the x, y and z axises. The plot readouts can be easily traced to determine exact measurement levels. This app costs just $4.99 and runs on iOS 4.2 for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad devices.
Popular Android Vibration Meter App:
Vibration Monitor - Smart Tools Co. - Price: Free
This slick little app was originally designed to measure seismic energy from an earthquake but also works great for measuring vibration from appliances like washing machines. This app is part of a full set of Pro level smartphone based measuring tools created by Smart Tools Co. This app requires Android 1.6 and functions well on smart phones and tablets.
Vibration Monitoring - LUL - Price: Free
This Android app is very similar to the Vibration Meter for iPhone. We like it because it displays multi-axis vibration in the x, y and z directions. This is very good for isolating specific vibration energy from multiple devices or planes of movement. This app also allows for data to be saved to an SD card for later use and transferring large amounts of data to other devices. This app has the longest duration of vibration measurement and can even be left on overnight for detection of vibration like earthquakes or noisy neighbors while you sleep. Requires Android 2.2 and up and works well on smart phones and tablets.
Now that you have an app on your mobile device you can start measuring vibration from your washing machine and dryer. While you could place your phone directly on the noisy vibrating appliance, it is best to measure the vibration from a nearby surface such as the floor. Most washing machines are designed to limit vibration transfer from the rotating internal wash drum to the frame of the washer. But the noise and vibration to you hear and feel is most often the result of residual energy being transferred to the floor and structure of your home. Start by placing your phone flat on the floor with the screen visible. The phone should be located about 6 inches away from the washing machine. Start your washer up with a full load of mixed laundry (small, medium and bulky items). Most vibration is created when the washer enters the spin cycle. Start the app when the spin cycle starts and measure the vibration. Then install at set of our Original Silent Feet or Anti-Walk Silent Feet washer pads and test again. Our pads absorb up to 94% of the vibration before it is transferred to the floor. You should see a noticeable decrease in the vibration energy spikes in the app.
Note: Adding any type of pad or flexible material under the washer will allow the appliance to visibly shake slightly more. This is why it is best to measure vibration on the floor near the appliance. Measuring vibration energy directly on the washer will likely show increased amplitude after installing the pads, but this is a normal part of the vibration isolation process.