Radio Frequency Smart Sensors

A RF Smart Monitor System is designed to allow the user to remotely collect machine vibration and temperature data without the need for cabling. This system, which is designed to monitor a wide variety of machine components, consists of following things:

1. Battery-powered sensors, which are placed on machine components and collect/process vibration and temperature data.
2. One or more RF Transceivers, each of which are able to remotely communicate with up to 64 sensors via radio.
3. RBMware 4.20 or later to create the database and analyze the Smart Sensor data.
4. A CSI Model 2120 or Handheld Personal Computer (HPC) to communicate with RBMware and the RF Transceiver.

This system is designed to smoothly integrate with RBMware 4.20 or later. Databases and routes are created in RBMware and downloaded to the 2120 or HPC. Four measurement points (vibration, PeakVue, temperature, and battery life) are generated with each sensor created in RBMware. Once a route has been created, the user downloads this information into a 2120 or HPC. The user then connects the 2120 or HPC to the RF Transceiver and requests data from the remotely-located sensors specified in the route. The transceiver then transmits a message to the selected sensors directing them to collect and process the data based on analysis parameters established in RBMware. When complete, each sensor remotely transmits vibration, PeakVue, temperature, and battery life data back to the 2120 or HPC via the transceiver. The collected data is then downloaded to RBMware for trending and analysis.

This system’s advantage is its wireless remote access capability, which is accomplished via a robust form of radio communications known as spread spectrum. This digital modulation technique has been widely used due to its immunity to interference. Spread spectrum systems are also very unlikely to cause interference with other radio systems, even other spread spectrum devices. Interference issues are minimized with this technique because the signal of interest is encoded with a lengthy digital pattern that approximates white noise. Consequently, the resulting signal looks like low-energy, band-limited white noise that can only be interpreted by a receiver that uses the same digital pattern to decode the signal. While the signal is relatively low power, long range communication is attainable due to the frequency of operation (2.4 GHz). The typical range achievable between an RF Smart Sensor and an RF Transceiver is approximately 300 feet. In addition, this form of communication does not require line-of-sight between the sensors and transceivers. This allows the sensors to be placed at the most ideal locations on the machine to maximize sensitivity to vibration and temperature signals. Another advantage of this modulation scheme is that no site license is required.

During the beta test phase of this product, RF Smart Monitoring Systems were evaluated at several industrial facilities on a variety of machines. One prime application of this technology highlighted during the testing phase is the use of this technology on machines that are either hard or dangerous to access. Machines in elevated locations (i.e. cooling towers) where the analyst was required to climb a ladder to reach the site, or machines located in hazardous locations (i.e. Class I, Div. II areas) are examples of such a scenario. Another use of this technology is on machines that have a range of motion (i.e., robots, accumulators, machine tools, cranes, etc.), where gaining access is difficult and routing cables is nearly impossible. Machines that fall in this category often are not analyzed for extended periods of time since they must typically be taken out of service prior to being surveyed. As this technology becomes widely used, other unique applications will undoubtedly be uncovered. In fact, the beta program highlighted new concepts that are now under consideration.

Capabilities of RF Smart Sensors

1. A high-quality 10 mV/g accelerometer and temperature sensor
2. Analog circuitry to condition the vibration signal as well as generate a PeakVue signal
3. Digital circuitry to process the vibration and temperature signals
4. An energy and power dense lithium C-cell battery for long life
5. A 2.4 GHz spread spectrum radio transmitter/receiver with antenna

The battery life under normal conditions is expected to be one year or greater, even with a full set of data being collected once per day. In addition, this device is mechanically designed to withstand the harsh conditions encountered in a typical plant environment. Even with all the functionality built into the sensor, it is only approximately 4″ tall and 2.5″ in diameter.

In terms of measurement point setup, the sensor is capable of:

1. Vibration data displayed in acceleration, velocity, or displacement
2. Pre-set sensor power on/off, measurement point sensitivity, auto-ranging
3. Single analog integration and double digital integration
4. Pre-set analog overall mode override

All other measurement point setup options in RBMware are supported in the usual manner. In terms of analysis parameter setup, the RF Smart Sensor has the following capabilities:

1. A series of pre-set Fmax values ranging from approximately 39 Hz to 9375 Hz (RBMware and the 2120 plotting functions will select the nearest Fmax which exceeds that of the RF Smart Sensor).
2. Up to 1600 lines of resolution, ten averages, and twelve analysis parameters (Hz INT, Order INT, HFD, Hz vHFD, MP Wave, P-P Wave, and Crest).
3. Analog pre-processing with a fixed high-pass filter setting of 2.5 KHz.

Note that the sensor Fmax values in Hz are: 39.06, 58.59, 78.13, 117.19, 195.31, 191.97, 390.63, 585.94, 781.25, 1171.9, 1562.5, 2343.8, 4687.5, 6250.0, and 9375.0. Also note that spectral weighting, 1/3 octave analysis, SST, special time waveform collection, and demodulation in the envelope demodulator are not supported. All other analysis parameter options in RBMware are supported in the usual manner.

Finally, supported alarm limit set unit codes are VELOC, DISPL, ACCEL, HFD, TEMP (overall only), W-ACC, and W-VEL. Additionally, only the four absolute alarms are supported for the alarm type. All other alarm limit setup options are also supported.

Spinach Computing

Green Machines

That lightning-like response―a hundred times faster than a silicon solar cell―may signal a bright future for plant-based electronics, says ORNL physicist Elias Greenbaum. In 1985, Greenbaum invented a way (now patented) to precipitate platinum onto the photosynthetic membranes from spinach, thus turning them into tiny electrical switches. These ‘platinized chloroplasts’, Greenbaum believes, could become the building blocks of artificial retinas for robotic vision systems, or even of speed-of-light optical computers.

Robert Birge, director of the Center for Molecular Electronics at Syracuse University, says Greenbaum’s membranes have ‘significant potential’ for artificial vision. “They’re very efficient,” he says. “They produce a highly characteristic electrical signal, and the response times are excellent―faster than the human retina.”

In fact, Birge―developer of a way to use proteins for data storage―foresees a veritable green wave of bioelectronics within a decade or so. Already, he says, Mitsubishi is close to introducing an optical disk based on light-sensitive biological pigments.

According to Birge, nature’s electronics are not just faster than silicon electronics, they’re also potentially cheaper and―as you might expect―far easier on the environment. The reason for their advantages, he says, is this: They have a billion-year head start over silicon semiconductors. “Five to seven years ago,” Birge notes, “people assumed that these biological molecules could not possibly be as efficient as the molecules people design from scratch in the laboratory. They also assumed that these molecules would be easily damaged by light or heat. What Eli has shown is that quite the opposite is true.”

Spinach Protein Finds New Use
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have found a new use for spinach―electronic components.

The scientists say that a protein in spinach has the ability to convert photons from the Sun into electrical energy. When spinach proteins are arranged in an ordered fashion on a flat surface, they create an electronic component called a diode (similar to a one-way valve for electric current). These diodes could be combined with other components to make switches such as the ones that store and manipulate all information in a computer. Spinach proteins are much more environment friendly than the often toxic materials that go into the making of computer chips. The era of spinach-based electronics may be on the horizon. Spinach? It may seem tough to swallow, but researchers at the ‘Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee’ have been exploring ways to use microscopic protein structures from spinach leaves as electronic devices.

The Oak Ridge team previously had found how to extract and isolate the tiny spinach proteins, which are part of the plant’s photosynthetic machinery for converting sunlight into chemical energy. The protein structure, called Photo System-I, can generate a light-induced flow of electricity in a few trillionths of a second.

Now, the researchers say, they have found how to attach the protein structures to a gold-plated surface and orient them in specified directions. That is an advance, they say, toward making simple electronic switches and logic circuits like those on silicon computer chips.

The natural protein structures do offer several potential advantages, Green Baum said, including smaller size and probably faster response times than the circuits etched in today’s silicon-based computer chips. The spinach-derived structures being manipulated by the Oak Ridge team are only six nanometers across. (A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.)

Why Choose Spinach?
It contains more of the protein structures than other plants, Lee said, and they are relatively easy to extract from spinach leaves. Also, spinach is inexpensively available at the supermarket.

The team needs very little of the leafy green plants for its work. “We only need a little bit, maybe half a bunch,” Lee said, “and then we eat the other half.” That half bunch of spinach, less than a pound, is enough to keep the team supplied with research material for about three months, Lee said.