I'm looking to build an air flow meter that will output in standard liters per minute. The cheapest sensors seems to be a car's Mass Air Flow sensor. I'm wondering if there is a way use one of these MAF to measure air flow in liters per minute.

Essentially I need to measure a medical ventilator's air flow in order to calibrate it. The gas flow analyzers that are normally used are way too expensive and offer too many extra features that I don't need.

Thank You

  • 1
    You'll have to tell us more about the MAF.. a datasheet would be good. What protocol does it use to communicate with the host device?
    – sachleen
    Jun 11, 2014 at 14:50
  • Is a ventilator's MAF in a range where an automotive sensor would work accurately / reliably?
    – JRobert
    Jun 27, 2014 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


There's no reason that an MAF couldn't be used with an Arduino. It's likely that the sensor will run on 12v and output an analog voltage from 0 - 12, so you might need to use a voltage divider with the Arduino.

See this Sparkfun article on implementing a voltage divider to scale down the 0-12 volt signal to 0-5v for the Arduino.


Does the sensor have to elecrtonic? How about a ball and tube flow-meter, say a lucite tube with a gradually expanding bore (harder) or constant bore just larger than a ping-pong ball, with a number of relief holes up the side (easier)? The higher the ball rises, the more air escapes through the relief holes. leaving less to support the ball while escaping around it.

You'd calibrate it with a positive displacement (piston) pump driven at values of (displacement/time) in the range if interest, and marking pen to record the ball position for each.


If you don't need to much precision, then use pulse counting from turbine wheel measuring device, that will give you the speed og air in the duct, multiply with duct area and you get the flow Volume. Alternatively use a delta pressure sensor for the air speed measurement something like http://www.rcdrone.cl/producto/sensor-velocidad-aire-para-aviones/

Just some idea from Lars Funder Have a great day

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.