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Spirit level

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For thesurveyingtechnique, seeSpirit levelling.

For other uses, seeSpirit level (disambiguation).

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Aspirit level,bubble levelor simply alevelis aninstrumentdesigned to indicate whether a surface ishorizontal(level) orverticalplumb). Different types of spirit levels may be used bycarpentersstonemasonsbricklayers, other building trades workers,surveyorsmillwrightsand other metalworkers, and in somephotographicorvideographicwork.

Early spirit levels had very slightly curved glassvialswith constant inner diameter at each viewing point. These vials are incompletely filled with a liquid, usually a mercuryoralcohol, leaving abubblein the tube. They have a slight upward curve, so that the bubble naturally rests in the center, the highest point. At slight inclinations the bubble travels away from the marked center position. Where a spirit level must also be usable upside-down or on its side, the curved constant-diameter tube is replaced by an uncurved barrel-shaped tube with a slightly larger diameter in its middle.

Alcohols such asethanolare often used rather than water. Alcohols have lowviscosityandsurface tension, which allows the bubble to travel the tube quickly and settle accurately with minimal interference with the glass surface. Alcohols also have a much wider liquid temperature range, and wont break the vial as water could due to ice expansion.A colorantsuch asfluorescein, typically yellow or green, may be added to increase the visibility of the bubble.

An extension of the spirit level is thebulls eye level: a circular, flat-bottomed device with the liquid under a slightlyconvexglass face with a circle at the center. It serves to level a surface across a plane, while the tubular level only does so in the direction of the tube.

To check the accuracy of a carpenters type level, a perfectly horizontal surface is not needed. The level is placed on a flat androughlylevel surface and the reading on the bubble tube is noted. This reading indicates to what extent the surface is parallel to the horizontal plane, according to the level, which at this stage is of unknown accuracy. The spirit level is then rotated through 180 degrees in the horizontal plane, and another reading is noted. If the level is accurate, it will indicate the same orientation with respect to the horizontal plane. A difference implies that the level is inaccurate.

Adjustment of the spirit level is performed by successively rotating the level and moving the bubble tube within its housing to take up roughly half of the discrepancy, until the magnitude of the reading remains constant when the level is flipped.

A similar procedure is applied to more sophisticated instruments such as a surveyors level or atheodoliteand is a matter of course each time the instrument is set up. In this latter case, the plane of rotation of the instrument is levelled, along with the spirit level. This is done in two horizontalperpendiculardirections.

The sensitivity is an important specification for a spirit level; its accuracy depends on its sensitivity. The sensitivity of a level is given as the change of angle or gradient required to move the bubble by unit distance. If the bubble housing has graduated divisions then the sensitivity is the angle or gradient change that moves the bubble by one of these divisions. 2mm (0.079in) is the usual spacing for graduations; on a surveyors level the bubble will move 2mm when the vial is tilted about 0.005 degree. For a precision machinist level with 2mm divisions, when the vial is tilted 5 arc seconds the bubble will move one graduation. This is equivalent to movement of .0005 inches measured one foot from the pivot point; referred to as 5 ten-thousandths per foot.

There are different types of spirit levels for different uses:

A spirit level is usually found on the head ofcombination squares.

Tilting level,dumpy levelorautomatic level[1]are terms used to refer to types ofleveling instrumentsas used insurveyingto measure height differences over larger distances. It has a spirit level mounted on a telescope (perhaps 30 power) with cross-hairs, itself mounted on atripod. The observer reads height values off two graduated vertical rods, one behind and one in front, to obtain the height difference between the ground points on which the rods are resting. Starting from a point with a knownelevationand going cross country (successive points being perhaps 100 meters (328ft) apart) height differences can be measured cumulatively over long distances and elevations can be calculated. Precise levelling is supposed to give the difference in elevation between two points one kilometer (0.62 miles) apart correct to within a few millimeters.

A traditional carpenters spirit level looks like a short plank of wood and often has a wide body to ensure stability, and that the surface is being measured correctly. In the middle of the spirit level is a small window where the bubble and the tube is mounted. Two notches (or rings) designate where the bubble should be if the surface is level. Often an indicator for a 45 degree inclination is included.

A line level is a level designed to hang on a builders string line. The body of the level incorporates small hooks to allow it to attach and hang from the string line. The body is lightweight, so as not to weigh down the string line, it is also small in size as the string line in effectbecomesthe body; when the level is hung in the center of the string, eachlegof the string line extends the levels plane.

An engineers precision level permits leveling items to greater accuracy than a plain spirit level. They are used to level the foundations, or beds of machines to ensure the machine can output workpieces to the accuracy pre-built in the machine.

Melchisdech Thvenot, a French scientist, invented the instrument some time before February 2, 1661.[citation needed]This date can be established from Thevenots correspondence with scientistChristiaan Huygens. Within a year of this date the inventor circulated details of his invention to others, includingRobert HookeinLondonandVincenzo VivianiinFlorence.[citation needed]It is occasionally argued that these bubble levels did not come into widespread use until the beginning of the eighteenth century, the earliest surviving examples being from that time, butAdrien Auzouthad recommended that theAcadmie Royale des Sciencestake levels of the Thevenot type on its expedition toMadagascarin 1666.[citation needed]It is very likely that these levels were in use in France and elsewhere long before the turn of the century.[citation needed]

Thevenot is often confused with his nephew, the travelerJean de Thevenot(born 1633; died 1667). There is evidence to suggest that both Huygens and Hooke later laid claim to the invention, although only within their own countries.[citation needed]

The Fell All-Way precision level, one of the first successful American made bulls eye levels for machine tool use, was invented by William B. Fell, Rockford, Illinois prior to WWII in 1939.[2]The device was unique in that it could be placed on a machine bed and show tilt on the x-y axes simultaneously; eliminating the need to rotate the level 90 degrees.[citation needed]The level was so accurate it was restricted from export during World War II.[citation needed]The device set a new standard of .0005 inches per foot resolution (five ten thousands per foot or five arc seconds tilt).[citation needed]The levels production stopped around 1970. Production restarted in the 1980s by Thomas Butler Technology, Rockford, Illinois, but finally ended in the mid 1990s. However, there are still hundreds of the highly prized devices in existence.[citation needed]

Today level tools are available in most smart phones. These mobile apps come with various features and easy designs. Also new web standards allow websites to get orientation of devices.

Digital levelsare increasingly common in replacing conventional spirit levels particularly in civil engineering applications, such as building construction and steel structure erection, for on-site angle alignment and leveling tasks. The industry practitioners often refer to those levelling tools as a construction level, heavy duty level, inclinometer, or protractor. These modern electronic levels are (i) capable of displaying precise numeric angles within 360 with high accuracy, (ii) digital readings can be read from a distance with clarity, (iii) affordable price resulted from mass adoption, providing advantages that the traditional levels are unable to match. Typically, these features enable steel beam frames under construction to be precisely aligned and levelled to the required orientation, which is vital to effectively ensure the stability, strength and rigidity of steel structures on sites. Digital levels, embedded with angular MEMS technology effectively improve productivity and quality of many modern civil structures used by on-site constructions workers. Some of the recent models are even designed with waterproof IP65 and impact resistance features to meet the stringent working environment of the industry.[citation needed]

Equipment Database Menu. 1998-10-19. Archived fromthe originalon July 10, 2009

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