Content - Data Communication

Data Communication

2.4GHz Satellite Switch

Customer: Hirschmann Electronics GmbH & Co. KG

Eight satellite channels and one terrestrial broadcast channel are routed individually to four users with automatic channel selection via either analogue signals or digital DiSEq Protocol. Initial prototypes were developed on a thin film substrate with a ceramic base and integrated passive components, during the 4th Framework EC-Project «LAP».

This first system was designed with an additional laminate carrier and four controller ICs for the digital switching protocol with subsequent commercialisation of the system being realised using a Sequential Build Up (SBU) laminate.

Benefits
  • increased functionality and efficiency
  • reduced complexity of the motherboard
  • reduced of manufacturing costs (obviating need for ASIC design)

«ASAP» Asset Surveillance & Protection

Customer: European Commission, 5th Framework Project (FP5)

The objective of the «ASAP» project was to introduce a new concept for an affordable, accurate and user-friendly asset surveillance and protection system in Europe. The scientific and technical challenge was to research, develop and evaluate a designated wireless, info-mobility system that includes end units, system infrastructure and inter-connection databases.

«ASAP» provides a comprehensive smart tracking and protection system by integrating data with existing information databases of the transport operators; enabling the user to track, locate and monitor in real time, all types of freight, including hazardous materials, as they are transported across Europe. Capable of monitoring the state of the freight online, the «ASAP» end unit includes sensors for various applications, such as temperature for freezer containers, gas sensors for bromide transporters and sensors for the surveillance of container doors.

«ASAP» sensors provide valuable add-on information on freight status and can communicate critical situations quickly and efficiently to emergency forces, helping to reduce risk and subsequently insurance premiums, e.g. in case of a leak from a hazardous material, or other problems the «ASAP» system will notify the transportation company, operating company and if required, the relevant environmental authorities.

Omnipresent and seamless access can be made available to customers, transportation operators, insurance companies and other involved parties, with location and status information accessible to both the mobile user and via the Internet.

Our Contribution
  • unobtrusive installable IP65-proof housing
  • sensors & their interface to the communication unit

BTnode

Customer: ETH Zurich [TIK]

Based on a Bluetooth radio and a micro controller, the BTnode is an autonomous wireless communication and computing platform which serves as a demonstration platform for research in mobile and ad-hoc connected networks (MANETs) and distributed sensor networks.

The BTnode was jointly developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Science and Technology (ETH, Zurich) by the Computer Engineering and Networks Laboratory (TIK) and the Research Group for Distributed Systems. The BTnode is currently being used in two major research projects, i.e. NCCR MICS and Smart-Its.

Our Contribution

Art of Technology was responsible for the industrialisation of the ETH prototype design and subsequent production of small to medium volumes.

Measuring Permafrost in the Swiss Alps

Customer: ETH Zurich [TIK]

Permafrost is a thermal subsurface phenomenon; made-up of rock, ground and debris which is frozen throughout the year within the steep alpine bedrock. Not visible at the surface, Permafrost thaws during the summer months and can seriously affect slope stability leading to dangerous natural hazards which may hinder the safe operation of man-made infrastructure in the surrounding area.

Challenge

PermaSense devices are installed and operated at high altitude in mountain regions with a permafrost environment. As such, the system and all of its component parts must run reliably at low temperatures and be able to withstand large, daily temperature changes (in excess of 40°C) depending on sun irradiation, wind and snow. Due to the fact that the PermaSense devices are only accessible by helicopter during summer, making a 2 - 3 year maintenance-free operation absolutely mandatory, the design of the system also had to take into consideration the following, in order to ensure long-term, reliable operation:

  • extreme daily weather variations
  • danger from lightning, avalanches, rockfall, frost / ice and snow
  • limited power available from the battery
  • restricted space for electronics and battery
  • low production volumes & time frame

Solution

Data is collected via a flexible, distributed wireless sensor network (WSN) which has been specially adapted to the geophysical sensors, thereby enabling reliable and high-quality measurements in the extreme environmental conditions. The system developed featured, in addition to the in-mast integration of the GPS receiver and antenna, a 2-axis inclinometer, all electronics and cables and a 12V photovoltaic system, the following:

  • wireless system with low latency data transmission
  • temperature measurements with sensor bars and thermistor chains
  • sensor nodes with "crack meter"
  • 2-dimensional measurement of gap movement
Our Contribution: miniaturised wireless sensors
  • design and industrialisation based on functional (hardware) model
  • development of Wireless-GPS system (hardware)
  • specialised sensors and electronics in a robust package
  • low sampling rates (1-60 min)
  • battery operated (3 years lifespan)
  • devices networked together with wireless data transfer
  • production of small batches of all product variants
  • 6 months from concept to first production batch