Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

TI microcontrollers improve water meter accuracy

Steve Rogerson
October 10, 2017

Chip company Texas Instruments has unveiled a family of ultrasonic microcontrollers that help smart water meters deliver higher accuracy and lower power consumption. The company has also introduced two reference designs that make it easier to design modules for adding automated meter reading (AMR) capabilities to existing mechanical water meters.
The MSP430 microcontrollers have an integrated ultrasonic sensing analogue front end that lets smart water meters deliver higher accuracy and lower power consumption. The 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.
As part of the low-power MSP430 MCU portfolio for sensing and measurement, the MSP430FR6047 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. This technique enables more accurate measurement, with precision of 25ps or better, even at flow rates less than one litre per hour.
In addition, the integrated devices reduce water meter system component count by half and power consumption by a quarter, enabling a meter to operate without having to charge the battery for ten or more years. The MCUs also integrate a low-energy accelerator module for advanced signal processing, 256kbyte of ferroelectric random access memory, an LCD driver and a metering test interface.
The MSP430 ultrasonic sensing design centre provides a development ecosystem that helps developers get to market in months. The design centre provides tools for quick development and flexibility for customisation, including software libraries, a graphical user interface, evaluation modules with metrology and digital signal processing libraries.
The low-power water flow measurement with inductive sensing reference design shows a compact method 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 retrofit existing mechanical flow meters, enabling water utilities to add AMR capability while avoiding expensive replacement of deployed meters. The CC1350 wireless MCU consumes 4µA while measuring water flow rates, enabling longer product life.
A second reference design provides an ultra-low power method 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 claimed best-in-class power consumption and flexibility to support wireless M-Bus deployments across multiple regions.