Stroboscope instruments are used for inspection and observation of moving parts by freezing or slowing down the action of an object. The term "stroboscope" is an expression derived from the Greek for an instrument for the observation of single phases of fast, periodic movements. If a fast rotating or oscillating object is illuminated with periodic light flashes so they always hit it in the same position, the object will appear stationery in the eyes of the observer. Industrial applications include printing and textile machines, aviation and automotive.
Common configurations for stroboscope instruments include handheld, portable, fixed, or modular. Handheld instruments are specifically for using while holding in one hand. Portable instruments have handles/case/wheels etc. to make easy to move, not necessarily held in hand to use. Fixed instruments are fixed or used in one place, for example, benchtop, panel mount etc. Modular instruments have different modules for interfacing to different sensors or input ranges.
The most important parameters to consider when specifying stroboscopes include flash rate range, flash rate resolution, and flash duration. The flash rate range is the number of flashes per minute. The flash rate resolution is the accuracy of flash rate or frequency. The flash duration is defined as the amount of time, measured in microseconds, that the flash exists.
Programming is achievable through analog or digital front panels, or through a computer connection. Displays are commonly analog meters or simple visual displays, digital numerical displays, or video displays. Common features for stroboscope instruments include battery powered for full operation, built-in or self-calibration, self-test diagnostics, or personal computer software.
Common electrical outputs for stroboscope instruments include current, digital, voltage, serial, parallel, and switched or alarm. A stroboscope that outputs current is often called a transmitter. A current is imposed on the output circuit proportional to the measurement. Feedback is used to provide the appropriate current regardless of line noise, impedance, etc. Useful when sending signals long distances. A digital output is defined as any digital output other than the standard serial or parallel signals. Simple TTL logic signals are an example. Output voltage is a simple (usually linear) function of the measurement. Serial output is a standard digital output protocol (serial) such as RS232, etc. Parallel output is a standard digital output protocol (parallel) such as IEEE 488, etc. A switched or alarm output is an "output" of a change in state of switches or alarms.