Design of an Adaptive, Ultra-miniature, Wireless, Multi-node Sensing Platform for Diverse Sensing Applications

Open Access
Virk, Ravender Singh
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 11, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Advisor
  • wireless
  • sensor
  • network
  • real time
  • wiring
  • testing
  • aerospace
  • heat shield
  • mote
  • logging
Defective wiring, whether due to age or faulty installation, is a serious threat to safety in the aerospace industry. Wiring problems have led to the catastrophic downing of passenger airliners, caused countless smaller failures, and forced untimely repairs and maintenance. The rising cost of dealing with aging wires has prompted NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and the White House to all strongly urge that aging wires be dealt with. This design project looked to solve the issue of wire-related sensor failure and limitation by creating a comprehensive platform for wireless sensing. By utilizing the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol—specifically ZigBee PRO—for low-power wireless communication, thousands of wires can be replaced with small, battery-powered boards that transmit their readings back to a base station for real-time monitoring and logging. The system implementation consisted of sensor boards capable of sensing up to eight single-ended or four differential inputs for up to eight hours while only spanning 30 mm × 30 mm. Each sensor board streams its data to a specialized base station that allows for complete customization in how data is interpreted and displayed. The system supports full temperature compensation and setting individual alerts to trigger based on custom criteria for each sensor input. While time constraints prevented fully testing the system, the design is ideal for testing applications where sensors must temporarily be placed on another system for verification, evaluation, or troubleshooting.