Telemetric Solution for Climate Change

Telemetry Project for Climate Change

Project Brief:
To develop a complete open source telemetric solution for monitoring various environmental parameters and reporting data through a web client.
Requirements:
• Sensor selection and characterisation
• Development of a universal “future-proof” Ethernet hub for collection of information from remote sensors
• Development of a database infrastructure for filtering, storage and aggregation of data
• Development of a web client to present gathered data in a graphical format
• Deployment of functional sensor units into the field and an operational system within 6 weeks!
Design Work:
Ethernet hub: It was required that this unit coordinate communications to all remote sensors, collate the data and when available transmit the data over the Ethernet through a HTTP link to the SQL database. As a result the unit require several communication systems including wired and wireless options to ensure that a large variety of sensors can be easily included in the sensor network. Several wired communication options were analysed and CAN (Controller Area Network) bus was chosen for the favourable physical layer attributes. For wireless communication several protocols were investigated with MiWi chosen for its small code footprint and simplified structure. To ensure no data was lost in the event of power loss a back-up battery and battery charge circuit was included in the design. To store data during offline operation a microSD card and controller was selected which allowed for easy memory expansion if required. Finally to complete the unit it was required that the unit function as a USB host device to further extend its functionality.
Database: Several hosting services were reviewed prior to development of the database based on performance, reliability, features and cost. Subsequent to the hosting option selected and continuing with the open source nature of the project the database was developed in PostgreSQL, run on Linux and hosted on the virtual server in the cloud.
Web Client: The web client was developed using Ruby on Rails, included PostGIS and MapServer for presentation of field data.
Outcome: At the deadline of 6 weeks we had successfully:
• Reverse engineered USB protocol and implemented USB host functionality for communication to a USB weather sensor node
• Implemented a reporting protocol, based JSON, and remote database with a web client interface.
• Designed custom enclosure, packaging, artwork and installation manuals.
• Designed and completed manufacture of 250 Ethernet hub units.
• Developed a custom manufacturing process to test and assign MAC addresses to production units.
Key Features:
• Virtual server setup and configuration to enable rapid up scaling
• Future proofed Ethernet hub unit with remote firmware update functionality
• 32-bit Microcontroller with external PHY (hardware AES encryption and MD5 hashing)
• USB host
• CAN controller for smart sensor implementation
• MiWi (2.4 GHz RF) for wireless communication to remote sensors with a range of 2km
• MicroSD card for local data caching
• Real-time clock
• Remote updates via internet bootloader
• Battery backup
• Lithium battery charge circuit
• Low power states to minimise battery drain

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