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I am trying to build a small DIY kit that can detect water flow in a pipe using ultrasonic sensor. I have found Ultrasonic Distance Sensor but not Ultrasonic Flow Sensor. Would really appreciate any advice or guidance on this.

I have explored many options including liquid flow meter but they don't fit my purpose. In my case both ends of the pipe are inaccessible apart from a few meters of the pipe in the middle. I cannot make any modifications to the existing configuration apart from strapping on a sensor that can detect water flow.

Upon researching I've learnt that an ultrasonic sensor can do a reliable job. There are commercial sensors that are way too expensive and above my requirement.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Google "ultrasonic flow sensor". \$\endgroup\$
    – EM Fields
    Jul 19, 2014 at 6:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why does it have to be ultrasonic? Wouldn't something like this work? \$\endgroup\$
    – Hari
    Jul 19, 2014 at 6:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you looked at one of these clamp-on ultrasonic flow meters? What is your budget? Not sure a working DIY design can be done for less than around $150-200 (plus NRE cost). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2014 at 7:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HariGanti He mentions that he wants something that attaches to the pipe without actually breaking into the line. The meter you showed is a small ferris wheel with a magnet attached to one blade that triggers a magnetic switch. \$\endgroup\$
    – Raiden
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Raiden This thread is so old I can't remember if that was there originally \$\endgroup\$
    – Hari
    Apr 30, 2018 at 17:55

3 Answers 3

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There are many types of ultrasonic flow flow meters such as in-line, clamp-on and Doppler flow-meters. As you cannot make any modification to your pipe, Clamp-on type is a good choice for your application. Ultrasonic flow metes have three main part which are sensors (ultrasonic transducers), electronic part (it includes the MCU and Time to digital converter) and the spool piece. In clamp-on type, first you must find suitable ultrasonic transducers that fit your requirements, and the rest is all about good measurement and processing of time difference between upstream and downstream signal from sensors (AMS, Maxim, TI and some Chinese company have special designed ICs for this purpose). You can mount sensors on your pipe, depend on the pipe size, one of the following configuration may be suitable for your application. enter image description here To have an accurate flow meter, apart from designing process, you need to calibrate it and calibration systems are two much expensive.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Doppler requires particles in the liquid. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, so instead, he would want a U shaped time displacement 2-transducer setup. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Raiden
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:46
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The ultrasonic sensor can be used to indirectly measure the flow of water if you use something called a flume shown here:

enter image description here

What you have is water flow left to right and more or less water enters the small hole at the bottom into a temporary reservoir that is proportional to the rate of flow. Simply take your distance sensor and ping the water within the reservoir and voila, with a bit of conversions you have flow metrics.

Although it may seem simple, there is actually a science behind these things. I can't remember the name of a particular type of flume for you to research, but take this image and see what you can find. If I think of the name I will update and link.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate your response, please see the update that I have added to the question \$\endgroup\$
    – user18197
    Jul 20, 2014 at 11:48
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The Ultrasonic sensor that you found can be used to detect the flow of water, all you need is to write an effective code for it, i have done this to detect the level of water, when the water level changes, you just have to be careful not to let Doppler Effect give a false reading...(due to the speed of water)... bit of creative mechanics and a nice code can do the job for you...

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    \$\begingroup\$ any further details you care to add? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 19, 2014 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dilum could you please suggest one that is specifically designed for water flow detection. As I am not great at code. \$\endgroup\$
    – user18197
    Jul 20, 2014 at 11:54

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