A dynamometer or “dyno” for short, is a device for simultaneously measuring the torque and rotational speed (RPM) of an engine, motor or other rotating prime mover so that its instantaneous power may be calculated, and usually displayed by the dynamometer itself as kW or bhp.
In addition to being used to determine the torque or power characteristics of a machine under test, dynamometers are employed in a number of other roles. In standard emissions testing cycles such as those defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, dynamometers are used to provide simulated road loading of either the engine (using an engine dynamometer) or full powertrain (using a chassis dynamometer). Beyond simple power and torque measurements, dynamometers can be used as part of a testbed for a variety of engine development activities, such as the calibration of engine management controllers, detailed investigations into combustion behavior, and tribology.
In the medical terminology, hand-held dynamometers are used for routine screening of grip and hand strength, and the initial and ongoing evaluation of patients with hand trauma or dysfunction. They are also used to measure grip strength in patients where compromise of the cervical nerve roots or peripheral nerves is suspected.
In the rehabilitation, kinesiology, and ergonomics realms, force dynamometers are used for measuring the back, grip, arm, and/or leg strength of athletes, patients, and workers to evaluate physical status, performance, and task demands. Typically the force applied to a lever or through a cable is measured and then converted to a moment of force by multiplying by the perpendicular distance from the force to the axis of the level.