Wireless Sensor Network Systems in Harsh Environments and Antenna Measurement Techniques

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Wireless sensor network (WSN) has become a hot topic lately. By using WSN things that previously were difficult or impossible to measure has now become available. One of the main reasons using WSN for monitoring is to save money by cost optimization and/or increase safety by letting the user knowing the physical status of the monitored structure. This thesis considers four main topics, empirical testing of WSN in harsh environments, antenna designs, antenna measurements and radio environment emulation.The WSN has been tested in train environment for monitoring of ball bearings and inside jet engines to monitor strain of blades and temperatures. In total, two investigations have been performed aboard the train wagon and one in the jet engine. The trials have been successful and provide knowledge of the difficulties with practical WSN applications. The key issues for WSN are robust communication, energy management (including scavenging) and physical robustness.For the applications of WSN in harsh environments antennas has to be designed. In the thesis, two antennas has been designed, one for train environment and one for the receiver in the jet engine. In the train environment, a more isotropic radiation pattern is preferable; hence a small dual layered patch antenna is designed. The antenna is at the limit of being electrically small; hence slightly lower radiation efficiency is measured. For the WSN in the jet engine, a directive patch array is designed on an ultra-thin and flexible substrate. The thin substrate of the antenna causes rather lower radiation efficiency. But the antenna fulfils the requirements of being conformal and directive.In reverberation chambers are used to measure antennas, but there are difficulties to provide a realistic radio environment, for example outdoor or on-body. In this thesis, a large reverberation chamber is designed and verified. It enables measurement between 400 MHz and 3 GHz. Also, a sample selection method is designed to provide a post processing possibilities to emulate the radio environment inside the chamber. The method is to select samples from a data set that corresponds to a desired probability density function. The method presented in this thesis is extremely fast but the implementation of the method is left for future research.