Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Russell Westphal


The development of the constant voltage anemometer (CVA) for the boundary layer data system (BLDS) has been motivated by a need for the explicit autonomous measurement of velocity fluctuations in the boundary layer. The frequency response of a sensor operated by CVA has been studied analytically and experimentally. The thermal lag of the sensor is quantified by a time constant, MCVA. When the time constant is decreased, the half-amplitude cut-off frequency, fCVA, is increased, thereby decreasing the amount of attenuation during measurements. In this thesis, three main approaches have been outlined in theory and tested experimentally to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing them with CVA to limit attenuation: operation at higher Vw, implementation of software compensation, and utilization of smaller diameter sensors. Operation of CVA at higher voltage results in little improvement in frequency response but is accompanied by increased danger of wire burnout. However, sensors do need to be operated at high wire voltages to be more sensitive to velocity fluctuations and less sensitive to temperature fluctuations, without reaching a temperature high enough for wire burnout. Software compensation of the CVA output has been shown not to be useful for measurements with BLDS. The electrical noise present in the CVA measurement system is amplified by the correction algorithm and creates measurements that are not representative of the fluctuations being measured. Decreasing sensor diameter leads to a significant decrease of MCVA and therefore increase of fCVA. Under similar operating conditions, a 2.5 micron diameter sensor showed less roll off in the frequency spectra (measured higher turbulence intensities) than a 3.8 micron diameter sensor for tests in both a turbulent jet and in a turbulent boundary layer. Smaller sensors are more fragile and have been shown to have a decrease in sensitivity as compared to larger sensors; however, for some applications, the increase in frequency response may be worth the trade-off with fragility and sensitivity.

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