A three-dimensional particle tracking velocimeter for measuring an instantaneous distribution of all the three velocity components in a liquid flow is developed using an automated digital image processing technique. The measurement system consists of three TV cameras, a digital image processor, a laser disk recorder and a 16-bit microcomputer. Motions of neutrally buoyant tracer particles introduced into the flow field are observed by the cameras, and the three-dimensional displacement of each particle is calculated from consecutive TV frames recorded on the laser disk. Instantaneous velocity profiles in an unsteady laminar Couette flow between two concentric cylinders are measured. The results are in good agreement with predictions within the measurement uncertainties evaluated systematically. Furthermore, the measurement of a decaying turbulence in a stirred water tank demonstrates that the present technique is applicable to turbulent flows.

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