Design of a low power wireless sensor network for environmental monitoring

Spreeth, Gideon (2008-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


A WSN (wireless sensor network) consists of a collection of small, low power electronic devices that can sense their environment and communicate with each other in order to send data to a base station for logging and monitoring. Research done on WSNs has increased rapidly over the past few years, as the necessary RF hardware has become cheaper and smaller. The wealth of information and hardware available in this field has made it possible to design and deploy networks for a multitude of monitoring purposes, on almost any terrain, without an existing telecommunication infrastructure. This thesis presents research into some major aspects of WSNs and the implementation of a test system with wireless sensor motes, that can be used for environmental monitoring, conservation purposes, impact studies, early warning systems for floods, fires etc. The system also has a wide range of possible uses in agriculture, as more data and better control over crops can increase yield. The power constraint of sensor nodes is one of the biggest concerns, as batteries can be depleted quickly and render a system useless. For this reason, work was focused on reducing power consumption of the hardware by means of various methods. Power use was also simulated very successfully, giving a accurate way of predicting node lifetime with a variety of battery types. The system was implemented on the Tmote Sky hardware platform using the open source sensor network operating system, TinyOS.

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