The Design of a Power System For a Wireless Sensor Network For Long-Term Operation

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Richardson, Andrew
Battery , Wireless Sensor Network , Energy Model , Charge Model , Power System , Energy Consumption , Charge Consumption , Sensor Network
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) have shown wide applicability to many fields including monitoring of environmental, civil, and industrial settings. WSNs however are resource constrained by many competing factors that span their hardware, software, and networking. One of the central resource constrains is the charge consumption of WSN nodes. With finite energy supplies, low charge consumption is needed to ensure long lifetimes and success of WSNs. This thesis details the design of a power system to support long-term operation of WSNs. The power system’s development occurs in parallel with a custom WSN from the Queen’s MEMS Lab (QML-WSN), with the goal of supporting a 1+ year lifetime without sacrificing functionality. The final power system design utilizes a TPS62740 DC-DC converter with AA alkaline batteries to efficiently supply the nodes while providing battery monitoring functionality and an expansion slot for future development. Testing tools for measuring current draw and charge consumption were created along with analysis and processing software. Through their use charge consumption of the power system was drastically lowered and issues in QML-WSN were identified and resolved including the proper shutdown of accelerometers, and incorrect microcontroller unit (MCU) power pin connection. Controlled current profiling revealed unexpected behaviour of nodes and detailed current-voltage relationships. These relationships were utilized with a lifetime projection model to estimate a lifetime between 521-551 days, depending on the mode of operation. The power system and QML-WSN were tested over a long term trial lasting 272+ days in an industrial testbed to monitor an air compressor pump. Environmental factors were found to influence the behaviour of nodes leading to increased charge consumption, while a node in an office setting was still operating at the conclusion of the trail. This agrees with the lifetime projection and gives a strong indication that a 1+ year lifetime is achievable. Additionally, a light-weight charge consumption model was developed which allows charge consumption information of nodes in a distributed WSN to be monitored. This model was tested in a laboratory setting demonstrating +95% accuracy for high packet reception rate WSNs across varying data rates, battery supply capacities, and runtimes up to full battery depletion.
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