A gravimeter is an instrument that measures gravitational force Fg (N) or acceleration g (m/s-2). Absolute gravity measurements are preferred in metrology, due to the shortest traceability links to the SI base units of length and time, realising acceleration. The investigation on the suitable method of gravity measurement was performed at the National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA). The free fall gravity measuring system was adopted for development. The metrological need on redefining the kilogramme standard using the watt balance, supported the decision to mandate this project. Free fall gravimeters were researched. The new concept of fully pneumatic controlled vacuum chamber was invented and manufactured. Pneumatic actuators were used on the vacuum chamber to align, launch, capture and reposition the falling test mass. Laser interferometer and high-speed digitiser with embedded accurate clock module, were used in realising displacement and time, through numerical computations. Using stabilised He-Ne Laser red with wavelength =633 nm interferometer, free-falling test mass displacements were traceable to length standard. Interference intensity signal produced from experimental free fall drops were converted to A digital voltage signal enabling processing. Post signal processing algorithms were applied to the signal to extract the displacement and time coordinates of the free-falling object, using a zero-crossing detection method in a LabView environment. The final prototype setup measured the value 9.786041 m/s2 with uncertainty of 0.0000705 m/s2 at the vacuum pressure of 0.05 Pa. It was validated and compared with the Council of Geophysics_ measured value of the site of 9.7860985 m/s2.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2018.