Modular, Portable, and Reconfigurable Wireless Sensing System

This system records environmental conditions in an aircraft cabin to create a database for determination of normal conditions.

A modular, portable, reconfigurable wireless sensor system monitors and records environmental conditions in an aircraft cabin. By designing a sensor system that can be easily configured for different needs (with the ability and flexibility to accommodate different/ extra sensors), the system can be used to measure parameters that meet multiple research requirements. Through design considerations such as generalized signal interface, and hierarchical code structure that can be easily reworked for new sensors, this system can be used to measure parameters that meet multiple research requirements. This sensor system, the ASCENT 1000, is configured with temperature, humidity, sound level, carbon dioxide, and pressure sensors. The system has been calibrated in the laboratory without the use of a pressure chamber.

The ASCENT 1000 portable, reconfigurablewireless sensing system for aircraft cabin environmentalsensing.
The ASCENT 1000, with exterior dimensions of 6.0×2.0×3.5", is a portable, self-contained sensor node that can be retargeted to measure a number of different parameters for use in a wide range of environments. The objective of the current system setup is to determine “normal” cabin conditions using a preliminary set of sensors. The measurements recorded from these sensors will be gathered by the research team during travel (flights of convenience) and stored in a database for detailed analysis.

During ASCENT 1000 sensing operations, the system periodically (at a user-adjustable sensing frequency) polls the onboard sensors to accumulate data on the surrounding environment. After collecting data from the sensors, the microcontroller writes this time-stamped data to a secure digital memory card (a commercial product). Analysis of data may be carried out by accessing the sensor data file on the memory card.

Although single units are useful in some situations, many environments require more than one data collection point. This is due to the tendency of some cabin parameters being measured (e.g. temperature, carbon dioxide concentration, and noise) to exhibit spatial variation within the cabin. Therefore, each ASCENT 1000 can be outfitted with an antenna to function as a sensor node in a wireless sensor network. This provides comprehensive collection of data on the environment in question. The units perform their operations independently (or cooperatively with the use of a common clock or real-time clock), needing only to be powered before establishing communications with the network and initiating the data collection. Even though ASCENT 1000 has wireless networking capability, it has been used primarily as a standalone sensing unit with one sensor node per aircraft.

This work was done by Jean Watson of the Federal Aviation Administration; Sin Ming Loo, Michael Owen, Josh Keipert, Arlen Planting, Michael Pook, and Derek Klein of Boise State University; and Byron Jones and Jeremy Beneke of Kansas State University. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at  under the Physical Sciences category. FAA-0001

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Modular, Portable, and Reconfigurable Wireless Sensing System

(reference FAA-0001) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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