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Oceanography/water displacement instrument

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Question
Hi Randy!
I am somewhat of an inventor and for a device that i am working to create, i need
To find an instrument that measures the volume displacement of water in a small tank. In a nutshell i need to be able to drop objects into the tank and have the instrument (hopefully digitally) tell me the amount of water displaced by the object. I am hoping to find something with the capability to measure in small increments, although they do not need to be super accurate micro increments. Do you know where i could find or search for a device like this?

Answer
It sounds like your application needs a simple, cheap, digital readout sensor to measure water level in a small-ish vessel (bucket). Water level can of course be related to water volume displaced by a submerged object (Archimedes lives!). I don't know of a handy sensor off hand but a quicklook at the web produced some leads.

This first links are very good at summarizing the different ways you can measure water level/volume.

http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/cols/nv/vol1/col/nv27.pdf
http://www.digikey.com/us/en/techzone/sensors/resources/articles/selecting-a-flu

The next 2 show simple sensors that might be useful. The first device can be attached to a bottle to measure a "critical" level, which unfortunately probably means it only detects whether the water is at a certain level or not; you need a continuous meaurement. The 2nd is very cool in that you only have to put the bottle on a pad to weigh it (then calculate volume given water density); would need to weigh object beforehand, of course, to  determine equivalent volume of water.

http://www.medicaldevice-network.com/contractors/mechanics/cosense-sensors/cosen
http://www.medicaldevice-network.com/contractors/mechanics/cosense-sensors/cosen

As you can see, there are a lot of ways, and probably solutions, to measure the water volume you need. If you are handy at simple electronics, the possibilities open up since you can just get a transducer and display separately.

BTW, in oceanography, depth (10s to 100s of meters) is measured using pressure sensors and the fact that (1/10)bar = 1 meter depth.

Goodluck,

Randy

Oceanography

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randy patton

Expertise

Physical oceanography, surface and internal wave characteristics, ocean currents, fluid mechanics, geophysical fluid dynamics, ocean optics, coastal dynamics, modeling and simulation, data analysis, El Nino and related large scale dynamics Not an expert in marine biology (some in bioluminescence) or chemical oceanography

Experience

26 years as professional scientist for research company working mostly on Navy and other government contracts. Projects included modeling, simulations and data analysis related to Non-acoustic Anti-submarine Warfare (NAASW). Other projects included remote sensing of ocean features, statistical analysis of ship tracks, ocean optics instrumentation development, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and sonar (SAS).

Publications
Journal of Physical Oceanography, 1984, "A Numerical Model for Low-Frequency Equatorial Dynamics" (with M. Cane)

Education/Credentials
MS Physical Oceanography, MIT, 1981 BS Applied Math, UC Berkeley, 1976

Past/Present Clients
Currently an Expert for All Experts in Advanced Math

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