Anemometer Interface

Voltage-to-Current Converter

Drives distant analog meter, digital meter, computer interface, data logger, etc. Built-in zero offset.

Max Carter

The 1733 Anemometer from Adafruit is a reasonably-priced, well-built wind-speed sensor. It features a built-in transducer that converts wind speed to an analog voltage output - no external pulse counter needed. This article describes my 1733 installation and the circuit that converts the voltage from the anemometer to loop current, enabling transmission over a pair of wires to a distant (or local) analog or digital meter, computer interface or logging device.

The advantage of using current to transmit an analog quantity is that the length of the wire pair to the metering device is virtually unlimited. An alternate approach would have been to do an analog-to-digital conversion at the site of the anemometer and transmit the data digitally (and wirelessly) to a microcontroller or computer. But I really wanted an analog meter, and the distance involved wasn't that great (150'/46m), so opted for the current loop.

1733 Anemometer

1733 Specifications
  • Specified output: 0.4 V to 2.0 volts, 0-32.4 m/s, 0-72.5 MPH
  • Testing Range: 0.5 m/s to 50 m/s, 1.12 MPH to 112 MPH
  • Start wind speed: 0.2 m/s, 0.5 MPH
  • Resolution: 0.1 m/s, 0.224 MPH
  • Accuracy: Worst case 1 m/s, 2.24 MPH
  • Max wind speed: 70 m/s, 156 MPH

Anemometer Installation

Mounting Plate and Pedestal

  • 3.5" electrical junction box cover w/½" knockout hole,
  • ½" close nipple (electrical),
  • ½" locking nuts (3),
  • ½" (F) thread to 1" PVC (sched. 40) reducer,
  • 1" to 1" PVC (sched. 40) coupler.

Mounted on Mast

1¼"x10' (3m) TV antenna mast, secured with #4 self-tapping screws.

Installed on an Outbuilding

18" wall mount (Amazon).

Voltage-to-Current Converter

Voltage-Controlled Current Regulator

The key take-away from the specs for the 1733 is that, from a baseline voltage of 0.4 volts with no wind, its output voltage increases by 49.4 mV for every 1 m/s increase in wind speed, or 22.1 mV for every 1 MPH increase, and continues to increase (by extrapolation) up to 3.46 V (70 m/s, 156 MPH). The circuit in Figure 1 converts the output voltage from the anemometer to a corresponding current in the remote meter loop. Changing the value of the current sensing resistor (R1) changes the voltage-to-current ratio, making the circuit adaptable to virtually any DC meter. (The value of R1 is calculated using one of the equations below.) The circuit can output currents up to 20 mA.

The Circuit

U1a is the meter loop driver. The opamp monitors the voltage drop across R1 and supplies current to the loop sufficient to exactly offset the voltage from the anemometer. The magnitude of the current flowing in the loop is thus independent of loop resistance. U1b and the associated circuitry provide a regulated current sink for R1 and the meter loop. The circuit maintains the voltage at TP 1 at exactly 0.4 volts. Thus, when the wind is dead calm and the anemometer's output is 0.4 volts, the current through the loop will be zero.

Figure 1

  • Resistor R1 (1) sets wind speed-to-current ratio. The resistor can be selected to provide a full-scale reading on any meter at any wind-speed. See Calculating R1. The value shown (1.10k) provides 1 mA at 50 MPH (full-scale on the 1 mA meter).

  • Zener diode (2) can be any value from 3 to 9 volts.

  • *The cable from the anemometer to the converter should be as short as possible.

  • The wire pair from the converter to the meter can be any length up to 8000 ohms round-trip at 1 mA. This works out to something like 50 miles (80km) using AWG 22 (.65 mm) wire.

  • **Adjust as follows (with current loop connected):

    • Connect multimeter from TP 1 to TP 2
    • Set multimeter to read millivolts
    • Adjust pot for 0.0 mV meter reading with dead calm wind (anemometer not moving).

The as-built voltage-to-current converter.


The converter is in the box at lower right.


Chosen for its convenient scale (0-50), the meter was once part of a HP bench power supply.

Calculating R1 (Fig 1)

Meters per Second:

R = (Vfs x .0494) / Ifs

  • R is the value of R1 in ohms,
  • Vfs is the full-scale wind velocity in meters per second,
  • Ifs is full-scale meter current in amps.

Miles per Hour:

R = (Vfs x .0221) / Ifs

  • R is the value of R1 in ohms,
  • Vfs is the full-scale wind velocity in MPH,
  • Ifs is full-scale meter current in amps.

Kilometers per Hour:

R = (Vfs x .0137) / Ifs

  • R is the value of R1 in ohms,
  • Vfs is the full-scale wind velocity in KPH,
  • Ifs is full-scale meter current in amps.


Full-scale wind speed Full scale meter current Calculated R1 Ω Nearest 1%
50 MPH 1 mA 1105 1.10k
100 MPH 2 mA 1105 1.10k
200 MPH 4 mA 1105 1.10k
100 MPH 1 mA 2210 2.21k
200 MPH 2 mA 2210 2.21k
100 MPH 50 µA 44200 44.2k
100 KPH 1 mA 1370 1.37k
100 KPH 200 µA 6850 6.81k
50 m/s 1 mA 2470 2.49k
50 m/s 200 µA 12350 12.4k

4-20 mA

The circuit works in a 4-20 mA system with the following modification:

  • Eliminate all circutry associated with U1b
  • Set the value of R1 at 100 ohms
  • Ground the left end of R1

Figure 2

4-20 mA Modificaton

Note: F.S. (20 mA) = 32.4 m/s = 72.5 MPH = 116.6 KPH


Alternate Meter Type - Digital Panel Meter

The circuit in Figure 3 can be used if a digital readout is preferred. The 49.9-ohm shunt resistor across the input terminals of the meter "converts" the current to a voltage. The meter will read full-scale (199.9 mV) at 200 MPH (4 mA).

Figure 3

Digital Panel Meter
  • Meter inputs (*) must be ground isolated. (The suggested Velleman meters meet that requirement.)

  • Shunt resistor (**) value shown produces full scale reading at 4 mA.


Next to the back door, at eye level.

DPM Shunt Resistor

Rshunt = Efs / Ifs

  • Rshunt is the value of the shunt resistor in ohms,
  • Efs is the full-scale voltage of the meter,
  • Ifs is full scale wind speed current in amps.

Multiple Devices are Connected in Series

Figure 4

*Meters or other device/s (data logger, chart recorder, etc.), including shunt resistors. Mix or match.

Computer Interface

The anemometer data can also be read and processed by a computer:

Read about how to do that here.

Schematics produced with DCCAD.

Related Page

1733 Anemometer/Computer Interface

Data Logger

USB-Based 8-Channel Data Acquisition Module