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Smart Structures and Systems
  Volume 6, Number 5, July-August 2010, pages 675-687

Ultra low-power active wireless sensor for structural health monitoring
Dao Zhou, Dong Sam Ha and Daniel J. Inman

    Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is the science and technology of monitoring and assessing the condition of aerospace, civil and mechanical infrastructures using a sensing system integrated into the structure. Impedance-based SHM measures impedance of a structure using a PZT (Lead Zirconate Titanate) patch. This paper presents a low-power wireless autonomous and active SHM node called Autonomous SHM Sensor 2 (ASN-2), which is based on the impedance method. In this study, we incorporated three methods to save power. First, entire data processing is performed on-board, which minimizes radio transmission time. Considering that the radio of a wireless sensor node consumes the highest power among all modules, reduction of the transmission time saves substantial power. Second, a rectangular pulse train is used to excite a PZT patch instead of a sinusoidal wave. This eliminates a digital-to-analog converter and reduces the memory space. Third, ASN-2 senses the phase of the response signal instead of the magnitude. Sensing the phase of the signal eliminates an analog-to-digital converter and Fast Fourier Transform operation, which not only saves power, but also enables us to use a low-end low-power processor. Our SHM sensor node ASN-2 is implemented using a TI MSP430 microcontroller evaluation board. A cluster of ASN-2 nodes forms a wireless network. Each node wakes up at a predetermined interval, such as once in four hours, performs an SHM operation, reports the result to the central node wirelessly, and returns to sleep. The power consumption of our ASN-2 is 0.15 mW during the inactive mode and 18 mW during the active mode. Each SHM operation takes about 13 seconds to consume 236 mJ. When our ASN-2 operates once in every four hours, it is estimated to run for about 2.5 years with two AAA-size batteries ignoring the internal battery leakage.
Key Words
    structural health monitoring; SHM; wireless sensor node; impedance-based method; temperature compensation.
Dao Zhou and Dong Sam Ha; Center for Embedded Systems for Critical Applications (CESCA), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Daniel J. Inman; Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures (CIMSS), Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA

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