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Hydraulics Prof. B.S.


It is found that B.S 3680-1980 part is exactly equal to ISO 3455 in all respects. The

specification in various topics such as: Dimensions of the tank, rating carriage,

measuring equipment, ancillary equipments, method of suspension, calibration

procedures, evaluation and presentation of results, tolerance and group calibration are


Details of some Rating Tanks in use in India

Site of Date of Remarks

rating tank installation Speed
Length Width range of

m m m m/s
Kempten Krempton
(Germany) manufacturer
85.00 2.50 1.60 - to 8.00

Kharagpur Ship-model
1952 87.80 4.10 2.40 - to 4.00
(India) tank
IIT Madras, 0.02 to
1969 82.00 3.20 2.80
(India) 5.50
Pune 0.01 to
1955 226.00 3.66 2.15
(India) 5.00

The length of the accelerating and braking sections depends on the design of the

carriage and on the maximum speed at which it is to be towed along the tank. The

length required for the braking section must take into account of safety requirements.

The length of the measuring section shall be such that the calibration error, which is

composed of inaccuracies in the measurement of time, distance covered and rate of

revolution, does not exceed the desired tolerance at any velocity. The required length

will, therefore, depend on the type of current meter being calibrated, the way the signals

are produced and transmitted and the method of calibration.

For example, if measured times both for distance covered by the carriage and for the

revolutions counted are accurate to 0.01 s in order to limit the error in time

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

measurement to 0.1% at the 95% confidence level, the duration of the test shall be at

least 10 s at maximum speed.

The wave crest produced by the current meter and its means of suspension, which

moves forward with the instrument, causes an increase in the height of the wetted

cross-section and thus, in accordance with the continuity equation, a reduction of the

relative velocity. This phenomenon, known as the Epper effect, may cause an error in

calibration within a narrow band in the velocity range from 0.5 vc to 1.5 vc (vc is the

critical velocity). The magnitude of the Epper effect depends on the size of the current

meters and suspension equipment, relative to the cross - sectional area of the tank. It

may be negligible when a very small current meter is calibrated.

For example, when a field type current meter on rod suspension is calibrated in a tank

1.83 m wide in which the depth of water is 1.83 m, the Epper effect is greatest at a

speed of about 4 m / s ( 9.81 x 1.83 ) and amounts to about 0.3%. The size of the effect

dies away on either side of the critical velocity, but is detectable at velocities between 3

and 5 m /s. Measuring equipment

The following three variables are to be measured

(a) The distance covered by the carriage (b) the number of pulses delivered by the

current meter (c) the time. The towing speed is calculated from the simultaneous

measurements of distance and time and the rate of rotation is obtained by simultaneous

measurement of the number of pulses and time.

Method of Suspension
The current meter should be provided with both the means of suspension from a flexible

cable, or a rigid member, such as a wading rod. For cable suspension means shall be

incorporated between the cable and the current meter to allow the 'fore and aft' axis of

the current meter to align itself horizontally with the flow of the water. Horizontal pivote

shall also be provided to allow the current meter to align itself vertically with the flow of

the water.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

Before the meter is immersed in water, it shall be checked for cleanliness, lubrication

and for its mechanical and electrical functioning. The suspension of the meter shall be

as specified. This will usually be the same as that used during field measurement.

The meter must be placed at such a depth below the surface of the water that the

surface influence is negligible. For an axial flow meter, a depth (liquid level to rotary

axis) twice the diameter of the rotary element is generally sufficient. A cup-type meter

shall be immersed to a depth of at least 0.3m or one and a half times the height of the

rotor whichever is greater.

Calibration procedure
The instructions for calibration shall include:

a) The limits of calibration speeds, when fixing a maximum limit, care shall be taken to

ensure that the last measuring points are situated clearly outside the zone where the

Epper effect is felt;

b) Details of the means of suspension, for example, rod profile and dimensions, fixing

method of electric cables, type of suspension cable, type and mass of ballast weight,

position of current meter with respect to support etc.

c) For meters with oil filled contact systems, the oil used in the measurements or its

complete specification must be sent in with the instruments,

d) Information concerning the desired calibration documents, such as equations,

calibration diagrams or tables, units in which the results are to be expressed etc.

e) Any particular requirements, such as whether the current meter is to be calibrated at

delivery and again after any repair.

It will generally be necessary to carry out tests at closer velocity intervals at the lower

end of the range because the largest errors expressed as percentages usually occur in

this range.

In accordance with current practice in a number of calibration stations, the total number

of measuring points would be about:

10 to 12 for calibration upto 2 m /s

12 to 16 for calibration upto 5 m /s

16 to 20 for calibration upto 8 m /s

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

The water in the tank shall be relatively still before each test run and the waiting period

shall be chosen so that residual velocities are negligible compared with the following

test velocity. The time needed for the water to still depends on the dimensions of the

tank, the use of damping devices, the previous test velocity, the size and shape of the

meters and of the suspension equipment immersed in the water.

The following mean values may be given for guidance

Velocity (m/s) Stilling time (min)

0.5 10
2 15
5 25
8 30

Presentation of results
Calibration diagrams, Calibration equations and calibration tables are the essential

calibration documents. In addition to these, the calibration form shall include the

following information:

a) The name and address of the rating station;

b) The date of calibration;

c) The calibration number

d) The make and type of current meter

e) The serial number of the meter and of each rotor;

f) Details of the suspensions used;

g) The position of the current meter in the cross-section of the tank;

h) A statement of the minimum speed of the response;

i) The limits of calibration;

j) Any remarks, for example, statements of any modifications made to the meter such as

the fitting of spare parts;

k) The water temperature during calibration;

l) The viscosity of the bearing oil;

m) A statement concerning the accuracy of the rating equation, which shall include an

assessment of the accuracy of the basic calibration technique;

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

n) The signature of a responsible member of the staff at the calibration station.

Group calibration
Current meters can be calibrated individually or group rating may be supplied. A current

meter may have an individual rating where the relation of velocity of response is based

on a rating of that particular meter. A manufacturer may supply a group rating for a

particular type of meter he manufactures provided that the manufacturing is

homogeneous and a sufficient number of single calibrations have been made under well

defined conditions. But in India, group rating is not practiced.

For accuracy of calibration the trolley should move with an accuracy of 0.2 percent. This

may not be, however, possible with the manually operated trolleys.

Tolerance limits at 95% confidence for individual and group ratings of current meters.

Velocity (m/s) Percentage uncertainty at 95% confidence level

Individual rating Group rating
0.10 5 10
0.15 2.5 5
0.25 2.0 4
0.50 1.0 3

Current meter shall be checked and get re-rated after 100 (BSI) to 300 (BIS and ISO)

working hours or a period of 6 months whichever is earlier.

Calibration procedure and presentation of results

The registration apparatus (chronograph) mounted on the carriage desk, records all

signals during the calibration run. For each calibration run, the following are recorded in

the paper chart (1) distance traveled by the carriage as constant speed. (2) The time

been taken to travel that distance and (3) number of revolutions of the rotor, all are in

the form of pulses. A typical chronograph is given Figure. This procedure has become

outdated and new type of counters is being used.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara







The data is plotted on a graph sheet as 'n' (rev/s) on X-axis and 'v' (m/s) on y-axis. A

single straight line or set of straight lines are fitted manually and the corresponding

equations are determined.

Date of calibration - 05 -04 - 05

Meter Number xyz 2312

Threshold velocity 0.12 m/s
Spin 90 seconds
V = mn + c

0 1 2 3 4 5
Number of revolutions per second n
Typical rating curve for a cup type Current meter

Jacob Chandapillai and Elango utilized the available data at Civil Engineering

Department IIT, Madras and analyzed the same.

The total number of current meter, selected for analysis is 2283. These belong to 12

different manufacturers. Among these, two companies are found predominant. One

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

company (Make 1) with 1015 current meters and the second (Make 2) with 711 current

meters. All the others are less than 175.

Numbers of current meters in different bits of equation:

Total number of current meters = 2283

No. of bit Numbers Percentage

1 2199 96.32
2 82 3.59
3 2 0.09

In the single bit equation, the slope ranged from 0.575 to 0.8. But most of them are

falling near to 0.7. Similarly, the intercepts ranged from -0.1 (m/s) to +0.18 (m/s). The

threshold velocity ranged from 0.01 m/s to 0.375 m/s. and the spin ranged from 5sec to

205 sec.

Threshold Velocity
The Histogram of the threshold velocity is shown. The threshold velocity in this data

ranged from 0.01 to 0.375 m/s. But, Bureau of Indian prescribes the maximum threshold

velocity of 0.15 m/s.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara



X-axis 1 cm = 0.025 m/s
Y-axis 1 cm = 2.0 %
Total number of Current Meters = 2258






(17) (26)
(7) (1) (8) (4)
0 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40


It is observed that 82.41 % of total current meters have the threshold velocity range of

0.025 to 0.1 m/s.

Similar to the study of the threshold velocities, a Histogram of spin is also developed.

Since these values are ranging from 5 to 205 (sec), an interval of 10 sec. is chosen for

the histogram development.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

X-axis 1 cm = 10 sec
Y-axis 1 cm = 1 %
Total number of Current Meters = 2265




4 (82)

(13) (12) (14) (11)
(7) (2) (1)

0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210

SPIN (sec)

Following observations may be made from the histogram

1. A majority of current meters falls in the range of 20 to 100 seconds.

2. 10.95 percent of the total number of current meters does not satisfy the Bureau of

Indian standard requirements namely 30 seconds. According to the original version IS

3910, 1966 the minimum spin with the contact is to be 70 seconds. 61.9 percentages of

current meters are below 75 seconds.

In this case, I.S.I. is specifying, a minimum spin of 30 sec. The number of current

meters with the spin less than 30 sec. is noted.

Generally in practice a linear equation in the form of

V = mn + C

In which, V is the velocity of flow in m/s, m is the slope of the straight line, n is the

corresponding speed of the rotor (revolutions/second) and C is the intercept (m/s).

In other words, for a particular speed and corresponding flow velocity, different

combinations of slope and intercept are possible. Therefore Jacob and Elango analyzed

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

the velocity of different current meters for the same rotor speed using normal


Total number of Current Meters = 2283
Rotor Speed [n] = 1 rev/sec
44 Scale
X-axis 1 cm = 0.5 σ
Y-axis 1 cm = 2.0 %
40 907








Normal Curve




10 (214)

4 (68)
2 (37)
(8) (12)
-3σ −2σ −1σ mean +1σ +2σ +3σ


Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

Total number of Current Meters = 1015
46 Rotor Speed [n] = 1 rev/sec
44 (442) Scale
X-axis 1 cm = 0.5 σ
42 Y-axis 1 cm = 2.0 %






Normal Curve






(100) (105)

2 (12)
(6) (7)
-3σ −2σ −1σ mean +1σ +2σ +3σ

Typical histograms are shown. It is concluded that more current meters are falling close

to the mean value then the normal distribution. The skew in the histogram changes from

one side to the other when the current meters belonging to the different manufacturer.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

Accuracy of a current meter depends mainly on the repeatability. The term 'repeatability'

of measurement has three meanings.

i) It can refer to the extent of agreement between more than one measurement at a

given speed.

ii) It may refer to the agreement between a pair of measurements, the second

measurement being made after the rotor has been dismantled, cleaned and


iii) It also refers sometimes to the agreement between calibrations made at stages in the

working life of meters.

Items (i) and (ii) reflect the precision of the calibration measurement and depend on the

quality of the measuring equipment. Item (iii) is dependent on the durability of the meter,

the use to which it has been subject to, and the efficiency of maintenance.

Item- 1

It was concluded that coefficient of variation is between 1% to 1.5% only.

Item- 2

This item refers to the change in the equation due to dismantling.

12 Current meters were first of all calibrated, immediately after receiving from the field.

Then it is dismantled, cleaned using kerosene oil and re-assembled.

Again these current-meters were calibrated. These two calibrated results were plotted

and the % deviation from the original is calculated.

Item- 3

This item deals with the change in the equations got in different stages of calibration.

Since the current meters are expected to re-calibrate within a specific period, from the

data available from the laboratory a search is carried out for the current meters

repeatedly calibrated.

Percentage deviation got is due to (a) deviation due to use and (b) deviation due to

dismantling and cleaning.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

It was concluded that the current meters which were calibrated directly brought from the

field (for recalibration) without any repair were different from the equation obtained after

correcting the defects. The first equation mentioned is due to the use in the field.

In other words, the difference between the two equations will give a measure of error

that the observer was committing, in the last day of observation, just before sending for


Current meters are calibrated before (B) and after dismantling (C) and cleaning.

The error due to overhauling as a percentage of the original velocity is tabulated, for

different rotor speeds. -7.04 to +3.82, -5.6, +4.83, -5.17 to +5.17, -5.18 to 5.34

Table: Change in equation due to Overhauling for some selected current meters

Current Date of Spin(sec) Threshold Equation

meter Calibration Velocity
no. (m/s)
B 27.3.85 45 0.14 V= 0.74n + 0.02
C 15.4.85 55 0.12 V= 0.7167n + 0.015
B 27.3.85 50 0.09 V= 0.7333n + 0.002
C 15.4.85 50 0.12 V= 0.7333n + 0.01
B 27.3.85 80 0.08 V= 0.74n + 0.0
C 15.4.85 80 0.06 V= 0.7833n - 0.015
B 27.3.85 70 0.1 V= 0.733n + 0.06
C 15.4.85 70 0.06 V= 0.7413n + 0.027
B 27.3.85 45 0.2 V= 0.74n + 0.06
C 15.4.85 45 0.13 V= 0.733n + 0.0027

Third phase of the study deals with the tests for the current meter. The tests, mainly,

spin test and threshold velocity are conducted before each calibration and noted. These

tests are expected to reflect the characteristics of the current meter. The main essential

characteristics of the current meter. The main essential characteristics of the current

meter are the equation itself.

Percentage Change in Velocity due to Overhauling.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

The error due to overhauling as a percentage of the original velocity for different rotor

speeds was analyzed and is as given below.

Number of
current n = 1 (rps) n = 2 (rps) n = 3 (rps) n = 4 (rps)
12 -7.04 to + 3.82 -5.6 to + 4.83 -5.17 to +5.17 -5.18 to + 5.34

The negative sign indicates under estimation after overhauling. The word 'under

estimation' means, estimating a lesser velocity in the second case, then the first case. In

both the cases velocity is computed for a particular rotor speed. Therefore it is clear that

almost all the current meters indicate lesser velocity after overhauling. Since some

values 7 out of 12 current meters are very high (>3%), it is not advisable to use current

meters after overhauling and without calibrating again. Therefore, whenever it is found

necessary to overhaul, use of that current meter should be stopped. It can be used only

after the overhaul and the calibration succeeding it. In other words, the overhauling,

changing of parts, minor repairs etc. should be succeeded by fresh calibration.

Due to use

i) Change in velocity in the entire life of current meter.

ii) Change in velocity between the periods of two calibrations.

For case-1, from the data available it is found that 313 current meters had calibrations

more than once. Among these 313 current meters most of them calibrated twice, and

some calibrated thrice and a few calibrated four times. Interval between the two

successive calibrations ranged from 3 months to 2 years.

This analysis by them indicated that, due to field use, most of the current meters over

estimate after the field use. Except a few current meters, most of the current meters

give very low percentage of deviation. Further they have concluded that there is not

much effect on the equations due to field use. For those few current meters, which gave

considerable deviation, it is suspected that, it has undergone replacement of parts, or

rough handling or damage while in use.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara

The spin test and the threshold velocity test are said to be the tests indicating the

performance of a current meter.

They demonstrated that there is no correlation between the spin test or threshold

velocity to anyone of the parameters considered. This indicates that there is a need of

some other test to find out the actual performance of the current meter. This was earlier

observed while doing the experiments with 12 current meters for repeatability tests.

The coefficients of correlation for other combination do not indicate any significant


Effect of Water Temperature and Proximity of Boundary on the Rating

of Current Meters
From the discharge data at the head of the Lower Jhelum Canal, Blench suspected that

a cup type meter over-registers velocity by 1 percent for every 6°C fall of temperature.

This point was investigated under controlled conditions at the Central Water and Power

Research Station, Poona. These investigations revealed that temperature variation from

5°C to 40°C has practically no effect (standard deviation ±1 percent) on the rating curve

of the meter.

Special tests were conducted in the towing tank at Central Water and Power Research

Station to study the effect of the proximity of the boundary on the rating current meters.

Results showed that the current meter observations will be subject to a negligible

boundary effect (less than ± 0.6 percent) provided the velocities are observed at a

distance not less than 30.5 cm from boundary.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Hydraulics Prof. B.S. Thandaveswara


1. Adam. T. Troskolanski, 'Hydrometry' Theory and Practice for hydrometric

measurements, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1960.

2. B.S. 3680 Part 8 - A (1973) Current meters incorporating a rotating element.

3. B.S. 3680 Part 8-C (1980) - ISO 3455 Calibration of rotating element current meters

in straight open tanks.

4. Herschy. R.W. and Anderson, Principles and Practices, John Wiley and Sons.

5. I.S. 3910 (1966) - Current Meters (Cup type) for water flow measurement,

Amendment No.1, October 1981.

6. I.S. 3918 (1966) - Code of Practice for use of Current meters (Cup type) for water

flow measurement.

7. ISO - 772 (1978) - Vocabulary and symbols.

8. ISO - 748 (1979) - Liquid flow measurement in Open Channels velocity area


9. ISO - 2537 (1974) - Cup and Propeller type current meters.

10. ISO - 3455 (1976) - Calibration of rotating element current meters in straight open


11. Jacob Chandapillai - Calibration characteristics of Hydrometric current meters,

M.Tech Thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-Madras, June 1985.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras