A calibrator, referred to as the "spider" design, can be used to calibrate probes incorporating multiple acoustic sensing elements. The application is an acoustic energy density probe, although the calibrator can be used for other types of acoustic probes. The calibrator relies on the use of acoustic waveguide technology to produce the same acoustic field at each of the sensing elements. As a result, the sensing elements can be separated from each other, but still calibrated through use of the acoustic waveguides.

Standard calibration techniques involve placement of an individual microphone into a small cavity with a known, uniform pressure to perform the calibration. If a cavity is manufactured with sufficient size to insert the energy density probe, it has been found that a uniform pressure field can only be created at very low frequencies, due to the size of the probe. The size of the energy density probe prevents one from having the same pressure at each microphone in a cavity, due to the wave effects.

The "spider" design probe is effective in calibrating multiple microphones separated from each other. The spider design ensures that the same wave effects exist for each microphone, each with an individual sound path. The calibrator's speaker is mounted at one end of a 14-cm-long and 4.1-cm diameter small plane-wave tube. This length was chosen so that the first evanescent cross mode of the plane-wave tube would be attenuated by about 90 dB, thus leaving just the plane wave at the termination plane of the tube. The tube terminates with a small, acrylic plate with five holes placed symmetrically about the axis of the speaker. Four ports are included for the four microphones on the probe. The fifth port is included for the pre-calibrated reference microphone.

The ports in the acrylic plate are in turn connected to the probe sensing elements via flexible PVC tubes. These five tubes are the same length, so the acoustic wave effects are the same in each tube. The flexible nature of the tubes allows them to be positioned so that each tube terminates at one of the microphones of the energy density probe, which is mounted in the acrylic structure, or the calibrated reference microphone. Tests performed verify that the pressure did not vary due to bends in the tubes. The results of these tests indicate that the average sound pressure level in the tubes varied by only 0.03 dB as the tubes were bent to various angles.

The current calibrator design is effective up to a frequency of approximately 4.5 kHz. This upper design frequency is largely due to the diameter of the plane-wave tubes.

This work was done by Scott D. Sommerfeldt and Jonathan D. Blotter of Brigham Young University for Stennis Space Center. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Brigham Young University
Department of Mechanical Engineering
435QCTB
Provo, UT 84602
Phone No.: (801) 422-7820
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to SSC-00248, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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