Calibration and field deployment of low-cost fluid flow-rate sensors using a wireless network

Cindy K. Harnett, Matthew T. Schueler, Nick R. Blumenthal, Kristy L. Hopf, Jimmy F. Fox, Sruti Pulugurtha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Low-cost networked fluid flow velocity sensors are needed for high-density sampling in environmental research and other applications requiring automated fluid flow velocity mapping. The flow sensor in this paper is the target type consisting of a flap that deflects in the flow, changing the resistance of a strain gauge. A highly compliant flexible resistor promises to reduce costs by serving as the flow target and by eliminating the signal amplification circuitry needed for conventional strain gauges. However, we show that the individual calibration of these resistive sensors is critical for recovering the stream flow velocity. A wireless network is used for the mass calibration of multiple sensors in a test flume. After individual sensor calibrations are obtained, the same wireless network can be used to collect flow velocity data in the sensor application. A modular connection system enables the user to reconfigure quickly the system's physical layout for calibration or deployment purposes. The results are reported on an outdoor deployment of the flow sensors for logging stream flow data in environmental research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5491170
Pages (from-to)633-641
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received January 27, 2010; revised April 26, 2010; accepted May 4, 2010. Date of publication June 21, 2010; date of current version January 7, 2011. This work was supported by the United States National Science Foundation under Grants 0644511 and 0918856. The Associate Editor coordinating the review process for this paper was Dr. Domenico Grimaldi.


  • Calibration
  • distributed measurement systems
  • environmental sensors
  • wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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