Vol. VII, No. 2

August, 1994

Digital Inclinometer for Historic Architecture

by William C. S. Remsen

The recently developed Smartlevel Digital Inclinometers are extremely valuable tools for quickly and accurately measuring the slope of architectural elements.

The Smartlevel consists of a rugged solid state sensor sealed inside a water-resistant polycarbonate module approximately 18 cm. long. The electronic module can be used as a torpedo level or can be clipped into a triangular aluminum rail (straight edge). The large liquid crystal digital display, operated by an on/off button, can show the measured slope in degrees (and tenths of degrees), % of slope, pitch (inches of rise over one foot of run) and a simulated bubble. A conventional 9-volt battery powers the level.

The Smartlevel can be set to show a non-horizontal angle as a reference angle. By "zeroing out" such a non-horizontal surface, all subsequent angles can be measured from the selected benchmark. The Smartlevel can be rapidly recalibrated if dropped, and I recommend recalibrating at the beginning of every documentation project.

The Pro Smartlevel comes standard with a 61 cm. (2 foot) aluminum and ABS plastic rail; optional 122 cm. (4 foot) and 183 cm. (6 foot) aluminum and teak rails are also available.

I have used my Pro Smartlevel on many historic buildings and archaeological sites. It has been invaluable measuring the slope of tilting masonry walls and the interior timber angles of ancient remains at Gordion, Turkey. Most recently, I have used it to determine the displacements of earthquake-damaged walls in several historic mosques in Cairo.

Pro Smartlevels have a list price of $119 and are available from many construction supply stores or the manufacturer, Wedge Innovations at (800) 762-7853.

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