University of Wisconsin-Madison Physical Sciences Lab

Archive for April, 2015

FLAMe on the Water

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

PSL’s Terry Benson (right) holding the new FLAMe unit with UW Limnology’s Luke Loken holding the FLAMe prototype.

Professor Emily Stanley’s lab in the UW-Madison Center for Limnology, or the study of inland waters (lakes, rivers, streams, resevoirs, etc.), created a boat mounted water testing rig called FLAMe (Fast Limnology Automated Measurement). This device can test for a number of different parameters (including water pH, CO2 levels, and nitrates) while the boat is moving at speeds up to, and exceeding 25 mph.

Limnology approached PSL to make a number of improvements. Led by PSL mechanical engineer Terry Benson, the following changes were made:


  • more rugged
  • more secure
  • made more modular, to increase options of testing devices
  • easily adapt to more boats, and positions on the boat.

The FLAMe unit mocked up at PSL.

    The piping was switched from galvanized steel to stainless steel, which means:

  • Less contamination of the water being tested.
  • More adjustability
  • More modular, to increase options of testing devices
    Overall, the unit improved:

  • Useability
  • More options due to the modularity of the unit.
  • Ruggedness
  • Made it easier to work on in the field.
  • Aesthetics were improved greatly!

Later, the rig was tested in Limnology’s testing boat, and the test went very well.

A close-up of the clamp.

This project is a result of PSL’s Pro Bono program, which helps UW researchers to design and build research instrumentation for a reduced, or no cost.