A stud finder (also stud detector or stud sensor) is a handheld device used with wood buildings to locate framing studs located behind the final walling surface, usually drywall. While there are many different stud finders available, most fall into two main categories: magnetic stud detectors and electric stud finders. There are also some devices employing radar.
A wall stud is a vertical framing member in a building's wall of smaller cross section than a post. They are a fundamental element in frame building.
Drywall is a panel made of calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum), with or without additives, typically extruded between thick sheets of facer and backer paper, used in the construction of interior walls and ceilings. The plaster is mixed with fiber, plasticizer, foaming agent, and various additives that can reduce mildew, flammability, and water absorption.
Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves in the radio or microwaves domain, a transmitting antenna, a receiving antenna and a receiver and processor to determine properties of the object(s). Radio waves from the transmitter reflect off the object and return to the receiver, giving information about the object's location and speed.
Stud finders have been in use since the early 20th century, and the first ones were all magnetic, relying on internal magnets to detect the walling fasteners or nails presumably attached to studs. In 1977, Robert Franklin designed an electronic stud finder that relied on an internal capacitor to measure changes in density behind the walling.His patent was put into production by the Zircon Corporation, which became the sole producer of electronic stud finders until the patent expired in 1998. While novel, these electronic stud finders did not always prove effective in locating studs.
Since 1998, many developments and improvements have been made to the internal capacitor stud finders and increased their popularity. Recent developments include stud finders with multiple sensor plates that sense the wall in multiple places. These sensors can indicate the location, width, and lack of studs simultaneously. With more sensors, these stud finders do not require calibration and adapt better to inconsistencies in wall construction.
A few stud finders use ultra-wideband radar scanners.They are based on the micropower impulse radar stud detector invented by Thomas McEwan.
Ultra-wideband is a radio technology that can use a very low energy level for short-range, high-bandwidth communications over a large portion of the radio spectrum. UWB has traditional applications in non-cooperative radar imaging. Most recent applications target sensor data collection, precision locating and tracking applications.
Micropower impulse radar is a low-power ultra wideband radar developed in the mid-1990s at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, used for sensing and measuring distances to objects in proximity to each other.
Magnetic stud detectors use magnets to locate metal in the walling material because the magnet is attracted to the metal. The attraction grows stronger as the magnet gets closer to the metal in the walling. The strongest attraction point, if due to a metal fastener in the wall, should indicate the location of a stud.
A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for the most notable property of a magnet: a force that pulls on other ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, and attracts or repels other magnets.
Magnetic stud detectors may be less useful in homes built with metal mesh lath and plaster. The metal mesh will confuse the signal of an electronic stud finder.
Stationary magnet stud detectors use a small stationary magnet to detect the nails or screws placed into studs while putting up the walling material. The user must move the magnet around the wall until feeling the pull of magnetic attraction, and move in the direction of attraction. Since stationary magnetic stud detectors rely on the user to feel the attraction, they can be very erratic especially when the metal fasteners are located more deeply in the walling, which decreases the overall attraction. When fasteners are deep or buried under thicker walling material (as in most plaster walls) the effectiveness of stationary magnets is considerably lower.
Plaster is a building material used for the protective or decorative coating of walls and ceilings and for moulding and casting decorative elements. In English "plaster" usually means a material used for the interiors of buildings, while "render" commonly refers to external applications. Another imprecise term used for the material is stucco, which is also often used for plasterwork that is worked in some way to produce relief decoration, rather than flat surfaces.
Moving magnet stud detectors use a neodymium magnet that is suspended in an enclosure and free to move in response to hidden metal. The strength of this rare earth magnet and the easy movement of the magnet allow moving magnetic stud detectors to work on a broad range of construction types. The magnet is suspended in such a way that it always sits in its "home" position until it is moved directly over a metal fastener or metal stud. On walls with shallow fasteners, the magnet moves towards the wall with such velocity that it makes a distinct thud sound when it hits the wall. Because a moving magnet is not dependent on the operator to feel the attraction to the metal, fasteners buried more deeply under plaster or tile can be located with this detector. For deeper fasteners, the sound is softer since the speed of movement is slower.
Neodymium is a chemical element with the symbol Nd and atomic number 60. Neodymium belongs to the lanthanide series and is a rare-earth element. It is a hard, slightly malleable silvery metal, that quickly tarnishes in air and moisture. When oxidized, neodymium reacts quickly to produce pink, purple/blue and yellow compounds in the +2, +3 and +4 oxidation state. Neodymium was discovered in 1885 by the Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach. It is present in significant quantities in the ore minerals monazite and bastnäsite. Neodymium is not found naturally in metallic form or unmixed with other lanthanides, and it is usually refined for general use. Although neodymium is classed as a rare-earth element, it is fairly common, no rarer than cobalt, nickel, or copper, and is widely distributed in the Earth's crust. Most of the world's commercial neodymium is mined in China.
Electronic stud finders rely on sensors that detect changes in the dielectric constant of the wall. The dielectric constant changes when the sensor is over a stud.The lower reading indicates the presence of a stud in the wall. Internal capacitor stud finders can also come with other features that locate metal and live AC voltage.
Electronic stud finders currently come in three types: edge finders, center finders, and instant finders.
Edge finders are the most basic internal capacitor detectors. Edge finders detect the edges of the stud or other material behind the walling. This finder must first be calibrated over an empty section of the wall, and then it can be moved along the wall until it senses a change in density - such as the edge of a stud. Edge finders should be moved from both directions to find both edges of the stud. The single sensor in edge finders can be prone to error, sometimes indicating a spot an inch or more from the stud’s edge. Once both edges have been marked, the user must determine the location of the stud’s center.
Center stud finders detect the center of the stud by using two sensors that register separate readings of the wall’s dielectric constant. When the two readings match, the finder indicates that it is centered on a stud. The several readings are used to determine the target center. Center finders only need to be moved from one direction. Like edge finders, center finders require calibration. Wall texturing can cause bumpy movement across the wall impairing the calibration readings.
Instant stud finders are a more recent development. Instant stud finders have multiple sensor plates, and do not need to be moved across the wall to detect a stud, overcoming the effects of bumpy wall texture. They use an algorithm to analyze the readings from the multiple sensor plates for a quicker, more accurate indication. Instant stud finders sense multiple regions of a wall simultaneously including the center of a stud, edges of the stud, and regions without studs. Instant stud finders will indicate varied widths of studs and the location of multiple studs at the same time.
Because the instant stud finders use multiple readings to determine the location of studs they are also less vulnerable to construction anomalies (such as uneven paint, wall textures, wallpaper, uneven plaster, etc.) that can disorient center and edge finders.
The newest stud finders in the industry implement radar technology. Using raw signals transmitted by their sensors, they are able to classify different wall types as well as the material behind the walls. This allows for detection of studs, pipes, wires, leaks and even motion such as pests or rodents. One of their advantages is the ability to work on older houses, such as ones with lath & plaster wall types.
A magnetometer is a device that measures magnetism—the direction, strength, or relative change of a magnetic field at a particular location. The measurement of the magnetization of a magnetic material is an example. A compass is one such device, one that measures the direction of an ambient magnetic field, in this case, the Earth's magnetic field.
A Hall effect sensor is a device that is used to measure the magnitude of a magnetic field. Its output voltage is directly proportional to the magnetic field strength through it.
In archaeology, geophysical survey is ground-based physical sensing techniques used for archaeological imaging or mapping. Remote sensing and marine surveys are also used in archaeology, but are generally considered separate disciplines. Other terms, such as "geophysical prospection" and "archaeological geophysics" are generally synonymous.
Time of flight (ToF) is the measurement of the time taken by an object, particle or wave to travel a distance through a medium. This information can then be used to establish a time standard, as a way to measure velocity or path length, or as a way to learn about the particle or medium's properties. The traveling object may be detected directly or indirectly.
Eddy currents are loops of electrical current induced within conductors by a changing magnetic field in the conductor according to Faraday's law of induction. Eddy currents flow in closed loops within conductors, in planes perpendicular to the magnetic field. They can be induced within nearby stationary conductors by a time-varying magnetic field created by an AC electromagnet or transformer, for example, or by relative motion between a magnet and a nearby conductor. The magnitude of the current in a given loop is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field, the area of the loop, and the rate of change of flux, and inversely proportional to the resistivity of the material. When graphed, these circular currents within a piece of metal look vaguely like eddies or whirlpools in a liquid.
Measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) is a technical branch of intelligence gathering, which serves to detect, track, identify or describe the distinctive characteristics (signatures) of fixed or dynamic target sources. This often includes radar intelligence, acoustic intelligence, nuclear intelligence, and chemical and biological intelligence. MASINT is defined as scientific and technical intelligence derived from the analysis of data obtained from sensing instruments for the purpose of identifying any distinctive features associated with the source, emitter or sender, to facilitate the latter’s measurement and identification.
A rotary encoder, also called a shaft encoder, is an electro-mechanical device that converts the angular position or motion of a shaft or axle to analog or digital output signals.
A security alarm is a system designed to detect intrusion – unauthorized entry – into a building or other area. Security alarms are used in residential, commercial, industrial, and military properties for protection against burglary (theft) or property damage, as well as personal protection against intruders. Security alarms in residential areas show a correlation with decreased theft. Car alarms likewise help protect vehicles and their contents. Prisons also use security systems for control of inmates.
A radar detector is an electronic device used by motorists to detect if their speed is being monitored by police or law enforcement using a radar gun. Most radar detectors are used so the driver can reduce the car's speed before being ticketed for speeding. In general sense, only emitting technologies, like doppler RADAR, or LIDAR can be detected. Visual speed estimating techniques, like ANPR or VASCAR can not be detected in daytime, but technically vulnerable to detection at night, when IR spotlight is used. There are no reports that piezo sensors can be detected. LIDAR devices require an optical-band sensor, although many modern detectors include LIDAR sensors. Most of today's radar detectors detect signals across a variety of wavelength bands: usually X, K, and Ka. In Europe the Ku band is common as well. The past success of radar detectors was based on the fact that radio-wave beam can not be narrow-enough, so the detector usually senses stray and scattered radiation, giving the driver time to slow down. Based on a focused laser-beam, LIDAR technology does not suffer this shortcoming; however it requires precise aiming. Modern police radars incorporate formidable computing power, producing a minimum number of ultra-short pulses, reusing wide beams for multi-target measurement, which renders most detectors useless. But, mobile Internet allows GPS navigation devices to map police radar locations in real-time. These devices are also often called "radar detectors", while not necessary carrying an RF sensor.
An induction or inductive loop is an electromagnetic communication or detection system which uses a moving magnet or an alternating current to induce an electric current in a nearby wire. Induction loops are used for transmission and reception of communication signals, or for detection of metal objects in metal detectors or vehicle presence indicators. A common modern use for induction loops is to provide hearing assistance to hearing-aid users.
Electronic article surveillance is a technological method for preventing shoplifting from retail stores, pilferage of books from libraries or removal of properties from office buildings. Special tags are fixed to merchandise or books. These tags are removed or deactivated by the clerks when the item is properly bought or checked out. At the exits of the store, a detection system sounds an alarm or otherwise alerts the staff when it senses active tags. Some stores also have detection systems at the entrance to the restrooms that sound an alarm if someone tries to take unpaid merchandise with them into the restroom. For high-value goods that are to be manipulated by the patrons, wired alarm clips called spider wrap may be used instead of tags.
An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.
A motion detector is a device that detects moving objects, particularly people. Such a device is often integrated as a component of a system that automatically performs a task or alerts a user of motion in an area. They form a vital component of security, automated lighting control, home control, energy efficiency and other useful systems.
Magnetic flux leakage is a magnetic method of nondestructive testing that is used to detect corrosion and pitting in steel structures, most commonly pipelines and storage tanks. The basic principle is that a powerful magnet is used to magnetize the steel. At areas where there is corrosion or missing metal, the magnetic field "leaks" from the steel. In an MFL tool, a magnetic detector is placed between the poles of the magnet to detect the leakage field. Analysts interpret the chart recording of the leakage field to identify damaged areas and to estimate the depth of metal loss.
Level sensors detect the level of liquids and other fluids and fluidized solids, including slurries, granular materials, and powders that exhibit an upper free surface. Substances that flow become essentially horizontal in their containers because of gravity whereas most bulk solids pile at an angle of repose to a peak. The substance to be measured can be inside a container or can be in its natural form. The level measurement can be either continuous or point values. Continuous level sensors measure level within a specified range and determine the exact amount of substance in a certain place, while point-level sensors only indicate whether the substance is above or below the sensing point. Generally the latter detect levels that are excessively high or low.
The magnetic detector or Marconi magnetic detector, sometimes called the "Maggie", was an early radio wave detector used in some of the first radio receivers to receive Morse code messages during the wireless telegraphy era around the turn of the 20th century. Developed in 1902 by radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi from a method invented in 1895 by New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford it was used in Marconi wireless stations until around 1912, when it was superseded by vacuum tubes. It was widely used on ships because of its reliability and insensitivity to vibration. A magnetic detector was part of the wireless apparatus in the radio room of the RMS Titanic which was used to summon help during its famous 15 April 1912 sinking.
A lightning detector is a device that detects lightning produced by thunderstorms. There are three primary types of detectors: ground-based systems using multiple antennas, mobile systems using a direction and a sense antenna in the same location, and space-based systems.
An inductive sensor is a device that uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to detect or measure objects. An inductor develops a magnetic field when a current flows through it; alternatively, a current will flow through a circuit containing an inductor when the magnetic field through it changes. This effect can be used to detect metallic objects that interact with a magnetic field. Non-metallic substances such as liquids or some kinds of dirt do not interact with the magnetic field, so an inductive sensor can operate in wet or dirty conditions.
Ultrasonic transducers or ultrasonic sensors are a type of acoustic sensor divided into three broad categories: transmitters, receivers and transceivers. Transmitters convert electrical signals into ultrasound, receivers convert ultrasound into electrical signals, and transceivers can both transmit and receive ultrasound.