An exercise has been developed for an undergraduate design laboratory. In the exercise, students design, build, and test load cells, then build computer interfaced tensile testing machines in which the load cells are integrated. Data is acquired through the use of a simple, low-cost bridge amplifier and digital counter circuit which was developed for this exercise. The circuit design and software are released as an open source project to encourage widespread use and participation by the academic community. The tensile test machine exercise has been tested on a group of 45 junior-level mechanical engineering students, with significant success in students demonstrating an understanding of the principles taught. The open source interface is being adopted by other courses and student projects at the host University; use at other institutions is encouraged.

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