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19 April 2007 A scaleable integrated sensing and control system for NDE, monitoring, and control of medium to very large composite smart structures
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NDE measurements, monitoring, and control of smart and adaptive composite structures requires that the central knowledge system have an awareness of the entire structure. Achieving this goal necessitates the implementation of an integrated network of significant numbers of sensors. Additionally, in order to temporally coordinate the data from specially distributed sensors, the data must be time relevant. Early adoption precludes development of sensor technology specifically for this application, instead it will depend on the ability to utilize legacy systems. Partially supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Advanced Technology Development Program (NIST-ATP), a scalable integrated system has been developed to implement monitoring of structural integrity and the control of adaptive/intelligent structures. The project, called SHIELD (Structural Health Identification and Electronic Life Determination), was jointly undertaken by: Caterpillar, N.A. Tech., Motorola, and Microstrain. SHIELD is capable of operation with composite structures, metallic structures, or hybrid structures. SHIELD consists of a real-time processing core on a Motorola MPC5200 using a C language based real-time operating system (RTOS). The RTOS kernel was customized to include a virtual backplane which makes the system completely scalable. This architecture provides for multiple processes to be operating simultaneously. They may be embedded as multiple threads on the core hardware or as separate independent processors connected to the core using a software driver called a NAT-Network Integrator (NATNI). NATNI's can be created for any communications application. In it's current embodiment, NATNI's have been created for CAN bus, TCP/IP (Ethernet) - both wired and 802.11 b and g, and serial communications using RS485 and RS232. Since SHIELD uses standard C language, it is easy to port any monitoring or control algorithm, thus providing for legacy technology which may use other hardware processors and various communications means. For example, two demonstrations of SHIELD have been completed, in January and May 2005 respectively. One demonstration used algorithms in C running in multiple threads in the SHIELD core and utilizing two different sensor networks, one CAN bus and one wireless. The second had algorithms operating in C on the SHIELD core and other algorithms running on multiple Texas Instruments DSP processors using a NATNI that communicated via wired TCP/IP. A key feature of SHIELD is the implementation of a wireless ZIGBEE (802.15.4) network for implementing large numbers of small, low cost, low power sensors communication via a meshstar wireless network. While SHIELD was designed to integrate with a wide variety of existing communications protocols, a ZIGBEE network capability was implemented specifically for SHIELD. This will facilitate the monitoring of medium to very large structures including marine applications, utility scale multi-megawatt wind energy systems, and aircraft/spacecraft. The SHIELD wireless network will facilitate large numbers of sensors (up to 32000), accommodate sensors embedded into the composite material, can communicate to both sensors and actuators, and prevents obsolescence by providing for re-programming of the nodes via remote RF communications. The wireless network provides for ultra-low energy use, spatial location, and accurate timestamping, utilizing the beaconing feature of ZIGBEE.
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Jerry Jones, Valerie Rhoades, Radford Arner, Timothy Clem, and Adam Cuneo "A scaleable integrated sensing and control system for NDE, monitoring, and control of medium to very large composite smart structures", Proc. SPIE 6531, Nondestructive Characterization for Composite Materials, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, and Homeland Security 2007, 65310J (19 April 2007);

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