The main component of ThermoMesh is wireless sensor nodes. They feature an embedded microcontroller, temperature and humidity sensors, a low-power radio and batteries. In effect, they can precisely monitor the environmental conditions in a room without the need for installing an additional infrastructure.
Factory-calibrated temperature and humidity sensors ensure a high measurement precision. Thermometer readings do not exhibit errors of more than 0.25°C on average; hygrometer readings do not drift by more than 3% of relative humidity (see the calibration certificate in Polish). The period between successive readings is one minute.
Each sensor node is powered by a pair of common and inexpensive AA batteries; their replacement is simple (no screws in the sensor casings). In addition, each node can be plugged to a USB port, which allows for powering the node from a mobile phone or a computer.
A node has built-in magnets that enable attaching it to steel surfaces. Mind that these magnets have been customized specifically not to interfere with electrical appliances. Moreover, a sensor casing allows for mounting by means of zip ties or common screws.
In open spaces with line-of-sight visibility, the range of the node radios is approximately 200 m. Indoors, the range is comparable to that of a high-end WiFi router, often outperforming it. The radio signal covers rooms, long corridors and typically two or more adjacent storeys.
The radios of the sensor nodes are configured to utilize as their communication channels those parts of the 2.4 GHz band that are unused by WiFi. In effect, sensor nodes and regular WiFi gateways do not interfere with each other.
The radio hardware of sensor nodes is compliant with the IEEE 802.15.4 physical-layer communication standard. On top of that, we have implemented the 6LoWPAN protocol suite, which facilitates communication based on the IPv6 protocol, a foundation for the Internet of Things vision, and higher-layer protocols, such as UDP. Connecting sensors to the Internet has never been easier!
In ThermoMesh, a gateway acts as an Internet gateway for the sensor nodes. Equipped with a radio, it receives packets from the nodes. Subsequently, it transmits such packets further in one of the following ways. First, it can forward the packets to our portal in the cloud, which is the simplest option. Second, it can forward the packets to a building management system (BMS). Third, it can make the readings in the packets available through the popular SNMP protocol.
By default, a gateway forwards sensor readings to our cloud-hosted portal through an encrypted private channel. As a result, no software has to be installed locally to make the sensor network operational. Just visit the portal's website to view the collected data.
In places where Ethernet is available, it is sufficient to plug an Ethernet cable to a gateway. The gateway will automatically configure a connection to the Internet via DHCP. In places without Ethernet, it is possible to plug a GSM modem to the gateway. In either case, the sensor data is sent by sensors to the gateway and by the gateway to the portal via an encrypted private channel.
Deploying multiple gateways at various spots of a room improves the reliability of the network and allows for collecting data from a larger area.
ThermoMesh is a highly customizable solution. A gateway can forward packets with sensor readings to an arbitrarily configured IP address and UDP port. The receiver can, for instance, be our mini-server (under an open source license), which makes the readings available for external systems via the popular SNMP.
A gateway has no software limit on the number of supported sensor nodes. The theoretical hardware limit, in turn, stems from the maximal radio throughput and is approximately 6000 sensor nodes. In practice, a single gateway can easily forward packets from a few hundreds of nodes.
A gateway is powered via a normal AC power plug. It can be used anywhere where usual electrical sockets are available.
The last component of ThermoMesh is a portal that archives, analyzes, and visualizes collected sensor data. It presents the data as temperature and humidity plots and maps of the rooms in which the sensors are placed. It also allows for configuring alarms to be triggered when the environmental conditions exceed thresholds selected by yourself. By default, the portal is available as a web service in the cloud, which simplifies system deployments. However, in addition or as an alternative, the portal can be installed locally on your machines.
The portal generates a temperature and humidity map for every fixed interval of sensor readings. To view the map from a given interval, you just need to point it in the time plot. The frequency of generating maps is configurable by a user and may range from 5 seconds to 1 hour.
The portal allows for configuring alarms that send an e-mail or SMS notification whenever an environmental parameter exceeds a threshold. For instance, it is possible to set an alarm that is triggered when the maximal inlet humidity for a selected group of servers exceeds 40%. An average alarm trigger time is 1 minute.
Sensor data is collected independently for each room that you want to monitor. All you need to create a new room is uploading an image with an outline of the room plan. Afterwards, you just drag'n'drop sensor onto the plan, so that the plan reflects their true placement in the room.
The portal allows for tracking the battery state of all deployed sensor nodes. Thanks to this functionality, you will know precisely when it is time to replace their batteries.
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