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Teledyne Hastings Instruments Blog

Did you know... The 300 Vue mass flow controller has flexible analog and digital output?

Posted by Doug Baker on Thu, Nov 12, 2020 @ 04:26 PM

Did you know? Even if your flow controller does not have the color touchscreen display, the 300 Vue flow line still allows you to switch between analog & digital control by using the zero button. (See the diagram below). You can also toggle between RS232 & RS485. This is a convenient feature when users want to switch their setup. Instructions can be found in the manual (pg. 14).


And, of course, we have our free Windows™ software. With the software, you can quickly configure and control your 300 Vue. And you can also record flow data and store to a file If you would like us to send a secure transfer download link for the free software, click here: https://www.teledyne-hi.com/resource-center/software

        300 Vue Top Cover             Vue_Touch_Screen-2


Tags: mass flow controller, mass flow instruments

How do I use GCF (Gas Conversion Factors) with my mass flow meter or mass flow controller?

Posted by Doug Baker on Mon, Nov 02, 2020 @ 09:54 AM

Using thermal mass flow instruments by Teledyne Hastings is an easy way to quickly and accurately measure gas flow. And in some cases, a mass flow instrument may be calibrated for one gas, but then the user may want to use the instrument in another gas. In this blog, we will show how to use GCFs (Gas Conversion Factors) when using flow instruments in different gases.

Before we get into GCFs, let’s quickly review the operation of one of our flow sensors. Below, we show a diagram of the 200 Series flow sensor. In this sensor, gas flows through a capillary tube which is heated in the middle to a temperature which is approximately 130°C. Two thermocouples, one upstream (TC-1) and one downstream (TC-2), measure the temperature. The temperature difference between the two thermocouples is proportional to the heat flow through the capillary tube. The heat flow, in turn, is proportional to the mass flow times the specific heat Cp of the gas. So, to first order, if we want to use a thermal mass flow meter that has been set up for one gas, and use it with another gas, we will multiply the output of the meter by the ratio of the specific heats. GCF ~ Cp1 / Cp2

200 Series Sensor

There are a couple of things we need to point out. First, the ratio shown above is a simple approximation and does not tell the whole story. Next, the best GCFs are those that have been measured experimentally. However, in the case of dangerous gases, we use the best thermodynamic data available.

Here is a table of some common GCFs.

Gas Conversion Factors (N2)
  200 Series 300 Series
Helium 1.402 1.400
Oxygen 0.981 0.978
Carbon Dioxide 0.743 0.753
Carbon Monoxide 1.001 1.001
Methane 0.770 0.779
Ammonia 0.781 0.781
Hydrogen 1.009 1.004
Argon 1.401 1.405

Next, we will discuss how we apply GCFs in practice. Let’s take an example of a flow meter that is calibrated for nitrogen. If we wanted to use the flowmeter in argon, we would take the output and multiply by the GCF for Argon.

Argon GCF

Here is another example; suppose we have a meter that is calibrated in helium and we want to use it in hydrogen. You would start by dividing the output by the GCF for helium (think of it as converting to the nitrogen equivalent), and then multiplying by the GCF for hydrogen.


Remember, always use the appropriate set of GCFs for the flow series that you are using. In other words, if you are using our Digital 300 Series, don’t apply GCFs from a 200 Series manual – they are not the same. And certainly don’t use non-Teledyne table of GCFs for use with Teledyne flow products. They might get you in the ballpark, but they will not be your best conversion.

One other quick note about applying GCFs. Our line of flow power supplies, the THCD-101 (single channel) and the THCD-401 (four channel), can be used to quickly scale the analog input which is equivalent to applying a conversion factor. Let’s take another look at the Argon example. If we used the THCD-101 power supply with the nitrogen flow meter as shown below, at the nominal full scale of the flow meter, we will have a 5 VDC signal. If we want to use this same meter and power supply with Argon, we just need to “tell” the THCD-101 what value to display when it receives 5 VDC. So, if our flow meter was calibrated for nitrogen to give 5 VDC at 250 sccm, then the same flow meter will give 5 VDC in argon at 350 sccm. (250 * 1.4 = 350). So, we would then range the THCD-101 for 350 sccm. This can be done from the front panel or via the internal webserver.   

HFM200 with THCD

Now let’s make things a little more interesting and discuss a flow controller example. Analog flow controllers work by receiving a command signal (usually 0-5 VDC, or 4-20 mA) and then they adjust their control valve such that the flow, and thus the analog signal output, matches the command signal input. (You can think of it like the cruise control in your car – you tell it you want to go 78 miles per hour, and then the engine does what it needs to do to maintain that speed). In the case of a 0-5 VDC flow controller, a 5-volt setpoint command is instructing the flow controller to set the flow to 100% of full scale. The relationship between flow rate and command signal is linear, so if the user wanted to control at 25% of full scale, then they would send a 1.25 VDC command signal (0.25 * 5 VDC = 1.25 VDC).


Now, suppose we had an HFC-202 flow controller (200 Series) that was calibrated for 200 sccm of methane and we wanted to use it to control the flow of argon. What voltage level would we need on the command signal to have a flow rate of 100 sccm of argon? Let’s first determine the full-scale flow rate (5 VDC) when using argon:

Flow (Ar) = Flow (CH4)/GCF (CH4) * GCF (Ar) = (200 sccm / 0.77) * 1.401 = 363.9

So, a 5 VDC command signal will give us 363.9 sccm of argon. If we want 100 sccm, we would send:

Command Voltage = 100 sccm (5 VDC / 363.9 sccm) = 1.374 VDC.

Now, one important note about using flow controllers in different gases. Just because we can apply GCFs does not mean that a flow controller’s valve will work properly when switching from one gas to another. As an extreme example, a flow controller valve that has an orifice sized to handle hydrogen will have a hard time handling significant flows of large polyatomic molecules like C2H6.

Teledyne flow products are easy to install and use. And our application engineers are standing by to help. We can be reached by email (hastings_instruments@teledyne.com), by phone 757-723-6531, or via LiveChat on our website www.teledyne-hi.com or by clicking the contact us button below.

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Tags: Flow Meter, mass flow conversion, mass flow controller, mass flow meter, Gas Conversion

Mass Flow Controller Calibration Report - What Does it Mean?

Posted by Doug Baker on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

In this short blog, we are going to look at one of our mass flow controller calibration reports and discuss some of the terms that you will see. There is good information at the bottom of these reports, so let’s jump in and take a closer look…

Sample Calibration Report

At the bottom of every one of our calibration data sheets, you will see the following statement:

This calibration complies with ANSI/NCSL Z540-1-1994 and ISO 17025-2005 [non-accredited] and is traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This validation was accomplished by qualified personnel directed by controlled procedures. The accuracy of this calibration for any gas other than the actual gas used may be subject to theoretical corrections. Customer Service can be contacted weekdays 8AM-5PM EDT at 1-800-950-2468.

Let’s start with part of the first sentence, “This calibration complies with ANSI/NCSL Z540-1-1994 and ISO 17025-2005 [non-accredited]”  According to the NCSLI webpage , there are two national standards for calibration laboratories. These are Z540-1 and ISO 17025. There are some differences between the two standards. And the aforementioned NCSLI gives a detailed description of both. In short, 17025 is appropriate for both calibration and testing labs whereas Z540-1 addresses calibration labs only. 17025 requires that the laboratory be a legal entity that can demonstrate competency, which includes thorough analysis of the uncertainty associated with the calibration services. Another difference between the two standards is that 17025 places the responsibility of the calibration due date on the end-user. In other words, the calibration lab should not determine the customers calibration cycle. That is why you no longer see calibration due dates on Teledyne Hastings’ labeling.

OK…. if 17025 is the latest, greatest, and accepted around the world, why do we still even list Z540-1 on our calibration reports? Because, we still have customers who adhere to Z540-1 and need the statement on their paperwork.

What about the word “non-accredited” that appears in parentheses? While we strive to conform to ISO 17025, which includes rigorous internal audit review, it has been our position that as a manufacturer, it is not necessary / appropriate for us to invest in the accreditation activities and third party audits. However, we do recognize the depth and critical nature of the standard.  Because of those criteria, we have chosen to compose our procedures and train our personnel to be in compliance with the standard. So to be clear, Teledyne Hastings is not accredited to ISO 17025.

Let’s move on… what do we mean by, “…traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology”? Simply this, we can provide an unbroken chain of calibration documents that connect your calibration back to NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Now here is a trick question… does a NIST traceable calibration tell us anything about the uncertainty of the calibration? The answer is, “no”. For example, we could calibrate one of our most advanced mass flow controllers, the HFC-D-302B 300 Vue which has a stated uncertainty of ± (0.5% of Reading + 0.2% of Full Scale).

– or we could calibrate our HFC-202 flow controller (±1% of full scale using the same metrology and the stated uncertainty for each instrument would be the same as before. In other words, the performance of these instruments does not improve just because a NIST traceable standard was used.

One more note, some customers request “Backup Documentation” to their calibration data reports. In other words, they want copies of the calibration reports of our metrology that form the unbroken link from their calibration back to NIST.  There is a nominal administrative fee to collect, scan, compile, and email these calibration reports for each individual piece of metrology that was used.

stackes of paper

Does everybody need the Backup Documentation? Usually not, but enough customers request these so it is a service that we offer.  Quite often the reason why our first tier customer will request the additional supporting calibration reports is because they are manufacturing complex assemblies that their higher tier customers are procuring with the aforementioned unbroken chain back to NIST as a purchase order flow down requirement.

Next, we have the sentence, “This validation was accomplished by qualified personnel directed by controlled proceduresThis gives us an opportunity to tell a little about our ISO 9001:2015 Quality System. As a key part of our system, all assembly and calibration personnel must complete rigorous training and demonstrate proficiency before working on either the Flow Products or Vacuum Products Teams. Also, every product or subassembly acceptance test, that has a measurable output, is controlled by a top tier Quality System Procedure. The procedures, training program, in fact the entire Quality System is subject to routine internal audit program, third party surveillance audits, and third party ISO 9001:2015 certification audits.

ISO Certificate

Now what about the statement, “The accuracy of this calibration for any gas other than the actual gas used may be subject to theoretical corrections”?  There are certain gases which are hazardous and/or corrosive. While our flow meters and controllers are quite suitable for use in many of these gases, there are several of the gases that we have never (and will never) allow into our facility. So, we use theoretical corrections to map the output of our flow products using the calibration gas to the output for the user’s gas.

We are very proud of our metrology and quality programs. And we welcome your questions. If you have a question about mass flow controllers, vacuum gauges, or just want more information about a Calibration Report, we are here to help. You can contact us at hastings_instruments@teledyne.com  or call 757-723-6531 (800-950-2468).

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Tags: mass flow controller

FAQ Corner – Specifying range, pressures on Mass Flow Instruments

Posted by Wayne Lewey on Wed, May 29, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

We often see the label “One Size Fits All”.  This may be fine for some consumer goods.  However, it can be quite problematic when applied to items like shirts, gloves, or even golf clubs.  “One Size Fits All” also does not work for Mass Flow Controllers (MFC).  Not all applications are alike.  Forcing a “One Size Fits All” MFC into an unsuitable application can squander accuracy and induce valve failure.

Why do you need to specify the gas flow range on a MFC?  The Full Scale (FS) Range and Gas on a MFC directly correlates to the transmitted output (analog or digital) of the device.  In an analog device, the maximum output value (such as 5 vdc or 20 mA) will be equivalent to the FS value.  The accuracy of most MFCs is a function of this FS Range.  For analog devices, it is commonly ±1% of FS.  For digital devices, it is commonly published to be ±(0.5% of Reading + 0.2% FS).  Selecting the FS Range close to an application’s maximum flow rate optimizes accuracy for that specific application.  This is a good practice.  In addition, the gas must be specified.  Most MFCs use thermal based sensors.  These sensors actually measure the molecular flow rate rather than the mass flow rate.  Various gas molecules transfer heat differently, and thus the gas must be known.

Why do you need to specify Upstream Pressure and Downstream Pressure on a MFC?  Again, not all applications are the same.  A “One Size Fits All” MFC is typically not set up for applications at high pressure, low pressure, high differential pressure, or low differential pressure.  The definition of high and low will also fluctuate from one user to another.  Teledyne Hastings Instruments selects and tests MFC valve components (orifice, spring, etc.) that optimize valve stability for the exact application pressure conditions.When using a Teledyne Hastings Instruments MFC, you will always find the FS Range / Gas and the Upstream / Downstream Pressures listed on the serial number label.

Sample Calibration Sticker for MFC


Wayne Lewey was first exposed to mass flow controllers while an undergraduate at North Carolina State University (Chemical Engineering).  Today, Wayne is the International Sales Manager at Teledyne Hastings Instruments and can be reached at wlewey@teledyne.com.

Tags: Teledyne Hastings Instruments, Flow Controller, Gas Flow Range, pressure, range, differential pressure, mass flow controller, mass flow meter