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For a undergrad design course I'm asked to design and manufacture a device for measuring the peak urine flow rate to indicate possible signs of prostrate cancer. Basically, the allocated budget is too low to use any electronics (transducers and data acquisition), which was my initial idea. Hence we're limited to mechanical flow rate measurement.

Now, the device has to allow a male adult to self-measure his flow rate, so he should be able to read off a scale or something. I'm currently looking into rotameters, or spring-based rotameters, as a possible solution. I can't really use differential pressure measurement because that uses two manometers, and you have to subtract the heights of fluid, etc which is too complicated for the patient to use. One professor suggested we just "measure the height of a column of urine"... how does that work? Would that be something like measuring a given volume and using a stopwatch, then dividing the two? That would give the average (not peak) flow rate.

Otherwise, what other simple mechanical flow-measuring techniques could we use? I'm quite confused at the moment! Any help would be greatly appreciated, many thanks in advance :)