The designing process of high resolution time interval measurement systems creates many problems that need to be eliminated. The problems are: the latch error, the nonlinearity conversion, the different duty cycle coefficient of the clock signal, and the clock signal jitter. Factors listed above affect the result of measurement. The FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) structure also imposes some restrictions, especially when a tapped delay line is constructed. The article describes the high resolution time-to-digital converter, implemented in a FPGA structure, and the types of errors that appear there. The method of minimization and processing of data to reduce the influence of errors on the measurement is also described.
The ultrasonic flowmeter which is described in this paper, measures the transit of time of an ultrasonic pulse. This device consists of two ultrasonic transducers and a high resolution time interval measurement module. An ultrasonic transducer emits a characteristic wave packet (transmit mode). When the transducer is in receive mode, a characteristic wave packet is formed and it is connected to the time interval measurement module inputs. The time interval measurement module allows registration of transit time differences of a few pulses in the packet. In practice, during a single measuring cycle a few time-stamps are registered. Moreover, the measurement process is also synchronous and, by applying the statistics, the time interval measurement uncertainty improves even in a single measurement. In this article, besides a detailed discussion on the principle of operation of the ultrasonic flowmeter implemented in the FPGA structure, also the test results are presented and discussed