You are on page 1of 17

12 Measurement of pressure

In many of the systems associated with the operation of aircraft and engines, liquids and gases are used the pressures of which must be measured and indicated. The gauges and indicating systems fall into two main categories: (i) direct-reading, or those to which the source of pressure is directly connected, and (ii) remote-indicating, or those having a separate sensing element connected to a pressure source at some remote point.
Methods of Measuring Pressure

Pressure, which is defined as force per unit area, may be measured directly either by balancing it against that produced by a column of liquid of known density, or it may be permitted to act over a known area and then measured in terms of the force produced. The former method is the one utilized in simple U-tube manometers, while the second enables us to measure the force by balancing it against a known weight, or by the strain it produces in an elastic material. In connection with pressure measurements, we are concerned with the following terms: Absolute Pressure The absolute pressure of a fluid is the difference between the pressure of the fluid and the absolute zero of pressure, the latter being the pressure in a complete vacuum. Thus, in using a gauge to measure the fluid pressure, the absolute pressure of the fluid would be equal to the sum of the gauge pressure and the atmospheric pressure. Gauge Pressure Most pressure gauges measure the difference between the absolute pressure of a fluid and the atmospheric pressure. Such measurement is called the gauge pressure, and is equal to the absolute pressure minus the atmospheric pressure. Gauge pressure is either positive or negative, depending on its level above or below the atmospheric pressure reference. In gauges which are spoken of as indicating vacuum or suction,

By taking into account the area of the tube bore and the density of the liquid it is possible to calculate the pressure from the difference in liquid levels.4)= 8 in. thus. At the same time the liquid is forced up the bore of limb В until a state of equilibrium exists and the levels of the liquid stand at the same distance above and below the zero point. gauge pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure minus pressure of the fluid. p = 3. H= hR-hA=4-(. Let us assume that the manometer is of the mercury type having a bore area of 3 in2. The difference in levels is H and its value is obtained by subtracting the lower level from the higher one. Thus. and that a pressure is applied to limb A such that at equilibrium the mercury levels are 4 in below and 4 in above zero. forcing it down limb A.1. then a force equal to the applied pressure multiplied by the area of the bore will act on the surface of the liquid. U-Tube Manometer The simple U-tube manometer shown in Fig 12.92 LB/IN2 UMB В LIMB A H = 8 IN .1 U-tube manometer. as the following example shows. If a low-pressure source is connected to the limb A. which finds its own level at a point 0 within the open-ended limbs of the U. consists of a glass tube partially filled with a liquid. usually water or mercury. APPLIED PRESSURE Figure 12. and the absolute pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure minus gauge pressure.they are really indicating the amount the absolute pressure is less than atmospheric pressure.

one of small cross. and so it is usually more convenient to graduate the manometer scale directly in pounds per square inch. In applying this principle to a hydraulic press we require essentially two interconnected cylinders as shown at ( b ) . The pressure p produced in the liquid by pushing on the piston is equal to Fla and is transmitted to every part of the liquid and acts on all surfaces in contact with it. If a force F is exerted on the small piston then the additional pressure produced is p = F/al and is transmitted throughout the liquid and therefore acts on the larger piston of . 1 lbf/in2 is equal to 8/3. H2 О very nearly). and that a tight-fitting piston is placed on the liquid’s surface. it finds a practical application in a hydraulic device known as the deadweight tester and used for the calibration and testing of certain types of pressure gauge. If now we try to push the piston down with a force F.92 lbf/in2 is represented by 8 in. then for a given pressure the difference in level H for a water manometer will be much greater than that of a mercury manometer (2.76 lb.2(a). If 3. but as water has a much lower density than mercury. the weight of the column is 3H X 0. Hg = 27.49 = 1.92 lbf/in2 is the pressure being applied to limb A and corresponding to a difference in mercury levels of 8 in. then 11. each representing an increment of 1 lbf/in2. and so a scale can be graduated with marks spaced this distance apart. Thus. Pressure/Weight Balancing The measurement of pressure by balancing it against weights of known value is based on the principle of the hydraulic press. manometers are used for checking the calibration of pressure gauges.Now. since the compressibility of liquids is very small. and as far as instruments are concerned. for the mercury manometer we have considered. Hg to 1 lbf/in2 is standard and results of calculations for differing bore areas will show that they are independent of the areas. The equivalent value 2.7 in.92. If the water is used in the manometer the foregoing principles also apply.04 in. or 2. the other of large cross-sectional area a2. and as the pressure balancing this is weight divided by area. The volume in this case is 3H and the density of mercury is usually taken as 0. then. In the same manner. In practice.04 in.49 lbf/in3. and this is calculated from volume multiplied by density.04 in.sectional area at.76/3 = 3. Each cylinder is fitted with a piston and both are supplied with oil from a common reservoir. other pressures can be calculated from the corresponding values of level difference H. Let us suppose that we have a cylinder containing a liquid as shown in Fig 12. we shall find that the piston will only be displaced by a very small amount.47 X 8 = 11. we must know the weight of the mercury column being supported.

2 Pressure/weight balancing. When the piston in the horizontal cylinder is screwed in. (b) hydraulic press. Figure 12. a force is exerted and pressure is transmitted to the . area a2. If the press is designed to lift a weight W.Figure 12. (a) Pressure produced in liquid. The weight that can be lifted by the application of a force F is multiplied in the ratio of the areas of the two pistons. then W will also be equal to раг.2(c) illustrates the hydraulic press principle applied to a deadweight tester. (c) dead-weight tester. Thus. the force that can be exerted by this piston is equal to pa2.

so that it can be supported in a balanced condition by the oil column.weighing piston in the vertical cylinder. Firstly. It is the practice. In this application we are more interested in direct measurement of pressure and therefore need to know what weights are necessary to balance against required pressures. the ‘free-end’. However. the weights are graded and are marked with the actual pressures against which they will balance. particularly in applications where the measurement of high pressure is necessary. the area constant A for a typical dead-weight tester is 0. diaphragms. forces are set up which change the shape and thereby increase the volume. The element is essentially a length of metal tube. One end of the tube. therefore. in which forces can be produced by applied pressures and made to actuate mechanical and/or electrical indicating elements. than it can normally hold. In consequence. a practical explanation sufficient for our purpose is as follows. while the other end is left open and fixed into a boss so that it may be connected to a source of pressure and form a closed system. The second point concerns the straightening out of the tube as a result of its change in cross- . from the relation W = pA a weight of 6. and also to straighten out as it becomes more circular. The ratio between the major and minor axes depends on the sensitivity required. a tube of elliptical cross. assuming that we require to balance a pressure p of 50 lbf/in2.section has a smaller volume than a circular one of the same length and perimeter. This being the case. In practice. then.25 lb is necessary. In other words.125 in2. This is not such a simple process as it might appear and many theories have been advanced to explain it. Bourdon Tube The Bourdon tube is about the oldest of the pressure-sensing elements. an elliptical tube when connected to a pressure source is made to accommodate more of the liquid. Elastic Pressure-Sensing Elements For pressure measurements in aircraft. thus. The sensing elements commonly used are Bourdon tubes. beryllium-bronze or beryllium-copper. is subjected to 50 lbf/in2. Now. it tends to assume its original shape. It was developed and patented in 1850 by a Parisian watchmaker (whose name it bears) and has been in general use ever since. it is obviously impracticable to equip the cockpit with U-tube manometers and dead-weight testers. specially extruded to give it an elliptical cross-section. is sealed. With this weight in position on the weighing piston the piston in the horizontal cylinder is screwed in until the weight is freely supported by the oil. at this point. The material from which the tube is made may be either phosphor-bronze. a larger ratio providing greater sensitivity. and shaped into the form of a letter C. to use elastic pressure-sensing elements. When pressure is applied to the interior of the tube there is a tendency for the tube to change from an elliptical cross-section to a circular one. which. capsules and bellows. or gas.

or to a warning-light contact assembly. then the resultant of all the reactions will produce maximum displacement at the free end. are usually employed for the measurement of low pressures. a quadrant and magnifying system is employed as the coupling element between tube and pointer. owing to their sensitivity. Capsules Capsules are made up of two diaphragms placed together and joined at their edges to form a chamber which may be completely sealed or open to a source of pressure. their number and depth control the response and sensitivity characteristics. Diaphragms Diaphragms in the form of corrugated circular metal discs. and within the limit of proportionality of the material employed. the displacement of the free end is proportional to the applied pressure. than would be obtained with a flat disc. in order to transmit this in terms of pressure. for given thicknesses. Since the tube is formed in a С-shape then it can be considered as having an inner wall and an outer wall. and under ‘no pressure’ conditions they are each at a definite radius from the centre of the C. When pressure is applied and the tube starts changing shape. the inner wall is forced towards the centre. their deflections being transmitted to pointer mechanisms. and the outer wall is forced away from the centre thus increasing the radius. Furthermore. Like single diaphragms they are also employed for the measurement of low pressure. the greater the number and depth the more nearly linear is its deflection and the greater is its sensitivity. They are always arranged so that they are exposed at one side to the pressure to be measured. Now. The materials used for their manufacture are generally the same as those used for Bourdon tubes. but they are more . decreasing the radius. The purpose of the corrugations is to permit larger deflections. therefore. along any section of the curved tube the effects of the changing radii are to compress the inner wall and to stretch the outer wall.section. Since this takes place at all sections along the tube and increases towards the more flexible portions. but as the walls are joined as a common tube. reactions are set up opposite to the compressive and stretching forces so that a complete section is displaced from the centre of the C. The displacement of the free end is only small. Within close limits the change in angle subtended at the centre by a tube is proportional to the change of internal pressure.

and an indicator mounted on the appropriate panel. They have distinct advantages over direct. Bellows A bellows type of element can be considered as an extension of the corrugated diaphragm principle.3. and are used for such measurements as hydraulic system pressure. low or differential pressure measurement. for example. An example of the general construction is given in Fig 12.3 Direct-reading pressure gauge. fuel and oil pressures also. a transmitter unit located at the pressure source. and in some applications a spring may be employed (internally or externally) to increase what is termed the ‘spring-rate’ and to assist a bellows to return to its natural length when pressure is removed. It may be used for high. and in operation it bears some resemblance to a helical compression spring. The operation of capsules in their various applications has already been described in the chapters on height and airspeed measuring instruments. the pressures of hazardous fluids such as 304 . Direct-Reading Pressure Gauges These are almost entirely based on the Bourdon tube principle already described. and in a number of general aviation aircraft powered by piston engines. they consist of two main components. Typical applications of bellows are described on pages 306 and 307.reading gauges. Figure 12.sensitive to small pressure changes. BOURDON TUBE PRESSURE CONNECTION LINK TO QUADRANT AND PINION Remote-Indicating Pressure Gauge Systems Systems of this type are available in a variety of forms but all have one common feature. The element is made from a length of seamless metal tube with suitable end fittings for connection to pressure sources or for hermetic sealing.

or a. 4 pressure.fuel. servo-operated.e.4 Micro-Desynn transmitter. pressure is measured in terms of the displacement of an elastic pressure-sensing element. d. The pressuresensing element Figure 12.C. The majority of systems in current use are of the electrical transmission type. also long pipelines are unnecessary thus saving weight. PRESSURE IN . 7 spring.sensing dement.4 shows the arrangement of a transmitter working on the micro-Desynn principle (see Chapter 9). 1 Micro-Desynn transmitting element. indicators can either be synchronous receivers. 5 bellows.c. and in some applications.c. Synchronous System Figure 12. Transmitters are therefore made up of mechanical and electrical sections. 3 push rod. engine oil and certain hydraulic fluids can be measured at their source and not brought up to the cockpit or flight deck. i. and transmitted to an indicator as a combination of varying voltage and current signals. 2 eccentric pin. ratiometers. and according to the operating principle adopted for any one system. D. 8 rocking lever. 6 cup-shaped pressing.

c. A. as pressure increases. A spring is provided inside the bellows. moves the eccentric pin and brushes coupled to it through a small angle over the coils. D. This. The indicator is of the normal Desynn system type. A cupshaped pressing is fitted inside the bellows and forms a connection for a push-rod which bears against a rocking lever pivoted on a fixed part of the mechanism. The core poles are set 90° apart and the stators are also positioned so that the poles produced in them are at 90° to each other to prevent mutual magnetic interference. The coils are supplied with alternating current at 26 V. When pressure is admitted to the interior of the bellows it expands and moves the push-rod up. The resistance changes produced set up varying voltage and current combinations within the indicator.5) they are connected as a simple twin resistance parallel circuit. the movement of the bellows and brushes results in a change of circuit resistance proportional to the pressure change. The electrical element is of the same type as that shown in Fig 9. an example of which is shown in Fig 12. It consists of a main body containing a bellows and two single-phase two-pole stators each surrounding a laminated salient-pole armature core. The two connections terminating at the coils are joined to the appropriate terminals of a ratiometer similar to that employed for temperature measurement (see page 276).consists of a bellows which is open to the pressure source. The operation is therefore quite simple. and is adjustable so as to set the starting position of the cores during calibration. but instead of the normal micro-Desynn method of connection (see also Fig 9. Ratiometer System An example of a pure d. the essential difference being in the electrical circuit arrangement.5.C.C. The essential parts of the indicator used with this particular transmitter . thus rotating the rocking lever. the lower core (A) moves further into its associated stator coil. A spring provides a controlled loading on the bellows and armature cores. which is calibrated for the appropriate pressure range. Inductor and Ratiometer System The operation of this system is dependent on the production of a current ratio by a variable inductor transmitter. which is measured as a coil current ratio. is that employing a transmitter which is a special adaptation of the micro-Desynn pressure transmitter just described. 400 Hz. Both cores are on a common shaft and are so arranged that. ratiometer system which is still adopted in one or two types of older generation aircraft. The element still has two brushes and resistance coils.4 and is positioned in the transmitter body in such a manner that the eccentric pin is also in contact with the pivoted rocking lever. in turn. while the upper core (B) moves further out of its coil.

in moving further into its stator. and as will be noted. 2 centre spindle bearing. Thus core A. 3 guide bush.6. I Overload stop screw. 12 base plate. a gap is provided in one limb of each core. there is a change in the inductance of the coils. The current is alternating. the armature cores move in their respective stators. decreases the inductance and impedance. then the changes in impedance will produce a change of current in the indicator coils at a predetermined ratio. When the bellows expand under an increasing pressure.5 Section view of an inductor-type transmitter.Figure 12. 9 centre spindle bearing. and so produces alternating fluxes in the laminated cores and across their gaps. and free to rotate between the poles of a permanent magnet. 13 radial ducts. A hairspring is provided to return the pointer to the off-scale position in the event of a power failure. The moving element is damped by a circular disc at the rear end of the shaft. The effect of . 7 stators and windings. II bellows. 15 electrical connector. As the stator coils are connected to the indicator coils in the form of a bridge network. The positioning of the discs on their common shaft is such that.6 that copper shading rings are provided at the air gaps. The difference between the two may therefore be interpreted in terms of pressure. 12 11 are illustrated in Fig 12. 10 guide bush. 6 aluminium housing. when the element rotates in a clockwise direction (viewed from the front of the instrument in its normal position). The purpose of the gaps is to permit free rotation of two aluminium cam-shaped discs which form the moving element. The coils around the laminated cores are connected to the transmitter stator coils. and since the latter are supplied with alternating current. and core B. 14 body. 8 centre spindle assembly. It will be noted from Fig 12. in moving out of its stator. 16 main spring. the effective radius of the front disc a decreases in its air gap. while that of the rear disc b increases. 4 aluminium cup. 5 armature cores. increases the inductance and impedance.

Figure 12. but since this is alternating. AIR RING GAP SHADING the alternating flux is to induce eddy currents in the rings. thereby increasing the impedance and decreasing the torque. these currents in turn setting up their own fluxes which react with the air. ratiometer dements. The indicator. We thus have two opposing torques controlling the movement of the discs and pointer. being a ratiometer.C. is independent of variations in the supply voltage. In the gap affected by the greater current the effective radius of its disc (a) decreases. the converse is true. the torques being dependent on the ratio of currents in the coils.6 A. while in the gap affected by the weaker current. it is necessary to DISC Ь . The resulting movement of the cam discs is arranged to be in a direction determined by the coil carrying the greater fluxes to exert a torque on the cam-shaped discs. and due to the disposition of the discs. this means there will be a difference between their torques.

7 illustrates another form of a. so that. Figure 12. Changes in temperature can also have an effect on the impedance of each coil: an increase in temperature reduces the ratio and so makes the indicator under-read.8 (c) and (d) the . be decreased and increased. reactance changes are overcome by the simple expedient of connecting a capacitor in parallel with each coil.c. then the inductance of coil 1 will be increased and that of coil 2 will be decreased. With pressure applied as indicated. the effects of frequency changes on a capacitor being exactly the opposite to those produced in a coil. Another difference related to the use of this transmitter.c. an increase of frequency would cause the stator coils to oppose the current changes produced by the transmitter. the length of the air gap associated with stator coil 1 is decreased. the coil reactance would increase. The sensing element construction differs from the one already described in that it utilizes a capsule. respectively. ratiometer principle (see also page 276). and an armature that moves relative to air gaps in the stator core. As the reluctance of the magnetic circuit across each coil is proportional to the effective length of the air gap. For example. the current flowing in the coils will. while that associated with coil 2 is increased. and as will be seen from Fig 12. However.\ provide compensation for variations in frequency. Temperature effects are therefore compensated by connecting a high-temperature-coefficient resistor across the coils of the indicator. is that its associated indicator may be of the moving-coil type based on the d. inductor type of pressure transmitter. Other types of indicator may be used with appropriate inductor transmitters. in technical terms.

The capsule is constructed so that corrugations of each diagram half ‘nest’ . (d) powered moving coil. Pressure Switches In many of the aircraft systems in which pressure measurement is involved. and housed in a chamber open to the pressure source. An example of a switch is illustrated in Fig 12. the frequency of operation may be such that the use of a pressure-measuring instrument is not justified since it is only necessary for the pilot to know that an operating pressure has been attained for the period during which the system is in operation.fundamental principles already described on pages 248 and 278 can also be adopted. In some systems also. the contacts ‘make’ as a result of a rise in pressure to the value pre-set by the micro-adjuster. On the other side of this chamber is an electrical contact assembly arranged to ‘make’ on either a rising or a falling pressure. (c) servo-operated. Figure 12.9. in the example shown. (a) and (ft) ratiometers.8 Dial presentations of pressure indicators. it is necessary that pilots be given a warning of either low or high pressures which might constitute hazardous operating conditions. To meet this requirement pressure switches are installed in the relevant systems and are connected to warning or indicator lights located on the cockpit or flight deck panels. It consists of a metal capsule open to ambient pressure.


in other words. spigots with ‘O’ ring seals (as in Fig 12.ELECTRICAL CONNECTOR FIXED CONTACT ABM together when the capsule is fully contracted to form virtually a solid disc which prevents damage to the capsule under an overload pressure condition. Pressure switches may also be applied to systems requiring that warning or indication be given of changes in pressure with respect to a certain datum pressure. as a differential pressure warning device. . with the exception that the diaphragm is subjected to a pressure on each side. The pressure inlets of switch units are normally in the mounting flange. and they may either be in the form of plain entry holes directly over the pressure source.9) or threaded connectors for flexible pipe coupling. The construction and operation are basically the same as the standard type.


5 Explain the fundamental operating principle of the Bourdon tube.In some cases.10 Combined transmitter and pressure switch. PRESSURE CONNECTION Questions 12. . explain how a pressure switch is made to give a warning of a pressure in excess of a normal operating value.1. 12.10 What types of indicator can be used with pressure transmitters operating on the variable inductance principle? 12.8 Explain briefly how an inductor type of pressure transmitter produces the varying currents required for the operation of a ratiometer. 12.4 Briefly describe how pressures can be measured by balancing against known weights.1 Define the terms absolute pressure and gauge pressure. 12. 12. 12. 12. 12.2 Name some of the instruments which measure the pressures referred to in 12.11 For what purposes are pressure switches required in aircraft? 12. 12.9 What effect does a change in frequency of the power supply have on an inductor type of transmitter? Describe a method of compensation.12 With the aid of a diagram.3 Describe the operating principle of a U-tube manometer. 12. Figure 12.10. a pressure switch may be incorporated with a pressure transmitter as shown in Fig 12.6 Name three other types of elastic pressure-sensing elements and state some specific applications.7 Describe a method of measuring pressure based on a synchronous transmission principle.