Ultrasonic MCUs are making electronic water meters smarter

27th September 2017
Lanna Cooper

Texas Instruments has unveiled a new family of MSP430 microcontrollers (MCUs) with an integrated ultrasonic sensing analogue front end that enables smart water meters to deliver higher accuracy and lower power consumption. In addition, TI introduced two new reference designs that make it easier to design modules for adding Automated Meter Reading (AMR) capabilities to existing mechanical water meters.

The new MCUs and reference designs support the growing demand for more accurate water meters and remote meter reading to enable efficient water resource management, accurate measurement and timely billing.

More intelligence and precision to sense flow
As part of the ultra low power MSP430 MCU portfolio for sensing and measurement, the new MSP430FR6047 MCU family lets developers add more intelligence to flow meters by taking advantage of a complete waveform capture feature and Analogue-to-Digital Converter (ADC)-based signal processing.

The company claims that this technique enables more accurate measurement than competitive devices, with precision of 25 picoseconds or better, even at flow rates less than 1 litre per hour. In addition, the integrated MSP430FR6047 devices reduce water meter system component count by 50% and power consumption by 25%, enabling a meter to operate without having to charge the battery for ten or more years.

The new MCUs also integrate a low energy accelerator module for advanced signal processing, 256KB of Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM), a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) driver and a metering test interface.

The MSP430 Ultrasonic Sensing Design Centre offers a comprehensive development ecosystem that allows developers to get to market in months. The design centre provides tools for quick development and flexibility for customisation, including software libraries, a Graphical User Interface (GUI), evaluation modules with metrology and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) libraries.

Add wireless communication to mechanical metres with compact, low-power reference designs
TI’s new Low Power Water Flow Measurement with Inductive Sensing Reference Design is a compact solution for the electronic measurement of mechanical flow meters with low power consumption for longer battery life. Enabled by the single-chip SimpleLink dual-band CC1350 wireless MCU, this reference design also gives designers the ability to add dual-band wireless communications for AMR networks.

Designers can take advantage of the reference design’s small footprint to easily retrofit existing mechanical flow meters, enabling water utilities to add AMR capability while avoiding expensive replacement of deployed meters. The CC1350 wireless MCU consumes only 4uA while measuring water flow rates, enabling longer product life.

A second new reference design is an ultra low power solution based on the SimpleLink Sub-1GHz CC1310 wireless MCU. The Low-Power Wireless M-Bus Communications Module Reference Design uses TI’s wireless M-Bus software stack and supports all wireless M-Bus operating modes in the 868MHz band. This reference design provides power consumption and flexibility to support wireless M-Bus deployments across multiple regions.

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