Quality Magazine

Off Topic: 45-Year-Old Sensor Used in Apollo Missions

March 31, 2008
As part of its 60th anniversary celebration in 2007, Endevco, a provider of sensing solutions for vibration, shock and pressure applications, created several contests to mark the important milestone. One such competition called on customers to find and submit the “World’s Oldest Functioning Endevco Sensor.”

The still-functioning Endevco model 2224C was factory calibrated in July 1962. Source: Endevco Corp.


As part of its 60th anniversary celebration in 2007, Endevco, provider of sensing solutions for vibration, shock and pressure applications, created several contests to mark the important milestone. One such competition called on customers to find and submit the “World’s Oldest Functioning Endevco Sensor.”

After a review of the entries over the course of the year, the Grand Prize winner was Michael Donaruma of the Environmental Test Facility of C.S. Draper Laboratory Inc. (Boston). The Endevco model 2224C he submitted was factory calibrated by Endevco in July 1962 and purchased by Dr. Charles Stark Draper, a professor at MIT, who also ran the MIT Instrumentation Lab. The accelerometer was used in the testing of gyroscopes that were used on the earliest Apollo missions. In the early 1970s, Dr. Draper and MIT spun the lab off as a non-profit operation.

Consistent and reliable performance over time is a critical factor for any measurement application, but particularly so in spaceflight with human safety and large investments at stake. When tested in 2007 after being received from Donaruma, the device showed extraordinary stability over a period of four decades with original vs. current frequency deviations of +2.0% and +1.19% at 20 hertz, 0% and +0.02% at 50 hertz, 0% and -0.76% at 100 hertz, and 0% and -1.46% at 200 hertz.

“It is always intriguing to hear the stories behind the applications for Endevco devices,” says Endevco President Scott Silcock. “And it’s truly astounding to ponder the advances made in aerospace technology from the early days of the Apollo program to the programs that seem routine today.”

As Grand Prize winner, Donaruma will receive $5,000 in Endevco Test Essential products or training services; a gift package including an Endevco backpack, folio and thermal mug; a 15% discount on calibration services for one year; and a framed award certificate.
    Endevco Corp.
    (949) 493-8181 ext 242
    www.endevco.com