The sensor manufacturers keep everything related with their sensors as confidential. They are even unwilling to share the per unit price of their sensors. And yet, they seriously expect us to decide on selecting their units without actually knowing any single thing about them.
Anyway, recently I had to select some inertial sensors for one of the projects I was working on. Therefore, I had sent a couple of emails to manufacturers asking for their prices. Here is a short list of these prices. If you are also in search of some compact inertial sensors, this list will save you waiting for weeks before those bastards graciously accept to answer your quote requests:
Honeywell (Only accelerometers)
KVH (Miniature Fiber Optic Gyroscope)
DSP-1750: $4000(Single Axis, Dual axis is $8000)
Navchip ($1300) (Engineering Sample:$4000)
Litef (Previously independent, but now a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman)
µIMU-IC: 12,000 Euro
Among the above sensors I should say that I was impressed by the KVH’s mini fiber optic gyroscopes. For years, we were stuck with MEMS sensors when we have very tight space constraints. Finally, a manufacturer can think of compacting its FOGs as an alternative to MEMS. (In fact Honeywell has some compact and rugged RLGs for years. But, I do not know if it is possible to buy them.) The size of DSP-1750 is less than 3inch which is perfect for many application with tight space. I hope in the future they will release more FOG units like that so that we can totally get rid of other arrogant MEMS manufacturers.
Intersense is a cheap MEMS inertial sensor manufacturer whose product is much lower quality than the other items in the list. However, I like their design and engineering. (It is at least better than the similar products of Analog devices which is a hopeless manufacturer. It is indeed a mystery for me that how the engineers in Analog devices can succeed in being so dumb.) So if you are looking a MEMS unit in that price range, you may want to check the Intersense’s navchip. (I was planning to build a high accuracy IMU block with redundant configuration using this sensor. Yet, due to reasons that are out of my control, I was not able to realize this plan. I still believe that using 8 navchip in a single IMU block can be better that buying another expensive option.)
Honeywell is almost unrivaled in its accelerometers. If you need an accelerometer, you do not need to look for any further than Honeywell. Recently I heard of another company called “japan avionics electronics” who is said to have also some good accelerometers. However, I could not find any meaningful information in their website. Also, those bastards did not return my email. That is why I do not know their accelerometer price either. However, in any case, I do not think that their accelerometers can be any match to Honeywell’s unit.
Systron Donners SDI500 is a 6DOF IMU. The specification in their website is quite promising. However, I find it difficult to believe that that unit will be capable of showing the specified performance in the field. Lab test results of MEMS units can always be misleading. That is why, I find it a risk to invest on that product for any project. Instead of using it, I would prefer to go for KVH’s fiber optics with honeywell’s accelerometers.
PS: , I have to mention that there are plenty of other sensors out there with better performance/price ratio. I had inquired the above sensors with some space limitations on my mind. If you have no space constraints in your project I would advice you go for older generation products of Litton or Honeywell. (Though it is really a pain to by anything form honeywell. Most probably you won’t even be able to get a list of their RLGs.)