Main node PCB ready for testing

The first of the main PCBs has now been soldered up and is ready for testing.  This is happening a lot later than we’d have liked due to supply chain issues.  However, the initial testing of the power supplies seems to be positive.

The first generation of mountain sensing PCB

The first generation of mountain sensing PCB

First custom designed sensor

A custom designed temperature sensor

A custom designed temperature sensor

This project has required the design and development of several custom sensors.  This is the first one to have been built.  It uses 5 one-wire temperature sensors attached to an AVR.  The AVR then runs code to interface with the sensors.  In order to connect to the main sensor node the AVR uses RS-485.  This means that it can be away from the main node, and because of the multi-drop nature of RS-485 multiple such devices could be attached.  The other sensor nodes also interface using RS-485 so each node could have different types of remote sensor attached.

CC1120 Contiki port

We are currently working on creating a Contiki driver for the CC1120.  The CC1120 is a high sensitivity low power radio which should enable us to get the connectivity between nodes that we need.  Whilst writing this post the first packets have been heard to be transmitted.

First PCBs

2014-06-04 16.17.44

The first batch of PCBs to be used in the project have been created.  These boards will take a 12V input and give a 5V 2A output.  These will be useful for powering devices in the first tests that are carried out.  There are a few more boards on the way including 5V 250mA boards, which will also be used for testing and powering external peripherals.

Range testing 868MHz radio links

I just did a quick range test with the CC1120 transceivers (our favourite for range):
at 2.2km it is easy to link even with omni antennas (-99dB) but a yagi was excellent (-89dB).
At 3.3km (not in good line of sight  and grazing wet ground) Yagi to omni was starting to loose packets (-106dB) and yagi to panel antenna was not much better but still communicating. This bodes well for a low power 868MHz network over the whole field site including our 3km link up from the valley.

This was at 50kbit/s using the CC1120DK TI test boards.

big round Omni was 4dBi gain

Yagi tested was 9 dBi gain

Panel was 7dBi gain