Ultrasonic Flow Meter IC Simplifies Water and Heat Metering Designs

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Ams AG extended its family of ultrasonic flow meter ICs with the TDC-GP30-F01, a complete hardware and firmware measurement solution for cold water meters. The company claims that the IC draws a continuous current of just 8.5µA when capturing flow measurements at a rate of 8Hz. The low power consumption allows the chip to operate from a single AA lithium battery for up to 20 years.

Including an ultrasonic flow measurement front end, a low-power 32-bit processor and firmware for converting the sensor’s analog outputs to measurements of cold water flow, volume and temperature, the IC allows designers of water meters to easily and rapidly implement a complete new ultrasonic water meter without developing their own firmware.

With an option to add new firmware code, users can easily implement a heat meter application by extending the TDC-GP30-F01’s firmware. The flexible device may be adapted to complement a range of typical spool piece designs. Users only need to characterize their spool pieces. ams provides a full suite of hardware and software tools for evaluating, developing and characterizing designs using the device. It also offers firmware functions such as error handling and power-saving modes when the flow rate is zero.

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Designs based on the TDC-GP30-F01 can be made more compact, with a lower component count than competing approaches that require a complex companion processor for elaborate calculations, and other external components. It is because the chip only requires the addition of a simple microcontroller to operate a water meter’s peripheral functions, such as a display and connectivity, and allows direct connection to ultrasonic trasnducers.

Systems which offer very accurate measurements of water flow and volume can be built using the device as it is able to detect water leakage rates as low as 0.5 liters per hour in a good DN20 meter, many times lower than the minimum water flow measured by today’s widely used mechanical water meters.

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With an SPI or UART or interface to an external microcontroller, or a pulse interface to emulate a conventional mechanical water meter’s signals, users of the ams device may replace their former mechanical flow measurement system with a modern non-invasive flow meter without the need to rewrite their application software.

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