A GPS without GPS

July 11th, 2011

gsmlocalizerWow, that sounds weird. It’s actually a mini GSM-based localizer without any GPS devices attached. It’s an old device with the cheaper SimCom module SIM900.  Here is a complete working GSM localizator which is pretty cheap and small too.

As introduction, this system allows localization without directly using GPS technology; we are able to locate the desired object fairly precisely by using database availability together with the geographic position of the cells themselves. In some country the cell coordinates are not publicly known (i.e. in Italy). If so, where do we find such data? Through Google Maps… Google has been able to store billions of data regarding the location of its clients’ cell phones. But how does GSM localization work? The radio mobile network is made up of a number of adjacent radio cells, each of which is characterized by an identifier consisting of four data: a progressive number (Cell ID), a code related to the area in which that given cell is (LAC, or Local Area Code), the code of national network to which the cell belongs (MCC, an acronym for  Mobile Country Code), and finally the company code (MNC, or Mobile Network Code), which obviously identifies the phone company itself. For this reason, once a cell name and coordinates are known, and considering the maximum distance allowed between this cell and a phone  before the phone connects to a new cell, it is possible to find out, approximately, the most distant position of the phone itself. For example, if the maximum distance has been determined to be one mile, the cell phone can be within a one-mile radius. It can be deduced that the more cells are found in a given area, the more precisely one can determine where the phone is located (up to 200-350 feet). The idea of employing only a GSM device to build a remote localization system occurred to us when we realized that Google Maps Mobile, which had been conceived to allow smartphones equipped with a GPS receiver to use Google for satellite navigation, was extended to all cell phones, as long as they were able to support GPRS or UMTS data.  Naturally, this method allows but for a rough estimate: determining the precise position of the cell phone hinges on data regarding the coverage of a given cell which can only be provided by the Google server.

DataCell

The circuit

Compared to traditional localizers based on GPS, this device presents many advantages, primarily because it is lighter and less bulky, has a cost lesser and greater autonomy to exercise. This means that about one battery lithium ion, such as 1 Ah, our tracker can be in operation for several days (it all depends on the number of SMS that have to do). A locator based on cellular network may answare more immediately: the GPS receiver may take several minutes to determine its position. Our tracker works battery and thus can be brought on by people who may have the need to ask help or be tracked, but also placed on board motor vehicles (without installation) or simply introduced in goods in transit. To avoid unnecessarily draining the battery, the localizator provides its position via SMS, on requesto with a simple phone call. Among the functions implemented there is the SOS: By pressing the button the localizator sends a text message asking for help, containing the coordinates of position, the sending can be done to a maximum of eight thelephone numbers. When queried or with the autoreport function, sends an SMS with the localization.To know the location of remote device must send an SMS request cell is connected and sends a request (via GPRS) to Google’s site, the latter responds with the coordinates and the figure for the precision. Everything happens in seconds.

0908_Schema

Well, you can get hell of these stuff from link provided afterward. Design files and the firmware are included. A fun stuff to experiment with at your disposal. Mini GSM localizer without GPS at open-electronics.org.

All images are courtesy of open-electronics.org

Japan setting out to get its own GPS off the ground

July 3rd, 2011

japan-gps.jpgHow’s your Sunday? ah-ha, here some GPS-related article for your weekend technological feed, have a nice weekend.

The Japanese government – with the the assistance of private firms – is ramping up research on a Japanese version of the Global Positioning System in a bid to turn satellite-based technologies into a key export, the Nikkei reports. As far as we know,  it’s already runs. But turning it into an export – is really a good idea to me.

Plans are afoot to conduct joint research and development on this – nine firms and two organisations are slated to participate in a study group to be formed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at the end of the month, with an aim to come up with new services in five years, the report says.

The venture will include companies such as NEC and Mitsubishi Electric Corp, which develop satellites or ground facilities, as well as those with a broad range of businesses, including transport systems, logistics and machinery.Having launched a quasi-zenith positioning satellite last September, the addition of two or three more satellites will enable an around-the-clock service, though specific plans for the second satellite haven’t been drawn up yet.

The Japanese satellite system is designed to supplement the GPS currently operated by the US, and is meant to cover the region, including that of Southeast Asia and Australia.A domestic GPS would yield many benefits beyond just making and launching satellites – with a projection that the overall market will grow from around four trillion yen in 2008 to roughly 10 trillion yen in 2013, a wide range of infrastructure-related fields will stand to grow as well.

Courtesy: paultan

Related:  Quasi-Zenith Satellite System, QZSS

A Brief Description of SCADA System Signals

June 19th, 2011

It has been a while, I left this site without any updates. So, here I present a basic of a SCADA system signal. It’s basic and have to describe it a way earlier but, left out with an assumption every SCADA engineer should have known it. Anyway, as a general reading, this topic should be one of important information for public readers.

basic circuit of instrument signal tappingThe most common current signal standard in modern use is the 4 to 20 milliamp (4-20 mA) loop, with 4 milliamps representing 0 percent of measurement, 20 milliamps representing 100 percent, 12 milliamps representing 50 percent, and so on. The use of a 4 mA reading to indicate zero is known as “live zero.” This helps to distinguish a zero reading from a “dead signal” or non-functioning equipment. The range of readings possible for a properly functioning system then is only 16 mA (20 mA – 4 mA). This 16 mA range is known as the “live signal.” The actual reading being recorded in mA is called the “process variable.” The PV indicates a percentage of a particular measurement being monitored. The table below shows the relationship between various PVs and their corresponding percentages.

signal comparison tableA convenient feature of the 4-20 mA standard is the ease in converting these signals to 1-5 volt indicating instruments, as the table on the left shows. A simple 250-ohm precision resistor connected in series with the circuit will produce arange of readings from 1 volt of drop at 4 milliamps to 5 volts of drop at 20 milliamps. The current loop scale of 4-20 milliamps has not always been the standard for currentinstruments. In the past, 10-50 milliamp signals were used more frequently. That standard has since become obsolete. The main reason for the eventual supremacy of the 4-20 milliamp loop was safety. Lower circuit voltages and lower current levels (compared to 10-50 mA systems) mean less chance for electrical shock injuries and/or the generation of sparks capable of igniting flammable environments in certain industrial applications.

An Overview of  SCADA Signal Calculations

Definition of terms

Dead signal: A reading from a non-functioning system that can be mistaken for a measurement.
Live signal:
The range of possible process variables. In a 4 – 20 mA system, any signal below 4 mA or above 20 mA indicates malfunctioning equipment. The range of useable signals is between 4 & 20 mA. Therefore, the live signal = 16 mA.
Live zero:
A reading other than zero used to indicate zero so that a zero reading can be distinguished from a dead signal. In 4 – 20 mA systems, the live zero = 4 mA.
PV:
Process variable. The signal reading, in mA, that represents a percentage of a particular measurement.

One of the more common uses for SCADA systems is the monitoring of storage levels. Formulas for making these calculations include:

mA to feet conversion

So, given a SWH of 30 ft, and board reading of 14.67 mA, the water level would be calculated as follows:

water level calculation

Kindly, do enjoy to use or share this information. Have a nice day.

Reference: Water Opcert School

How Earthquake and Tsunami Warning Systems Work

March 13th, 2011

seismic flowchart

How Earthquake and Tsunami Warning Systems? — Earthquake and tsunami warning systems both monitor the same thing: seismic waves. Seismic data takes the Earth’s pulse directly, so when the earth shakes, we get immediate feedback. If all goes well, we have enough time to run.
Lots of organizations watch for earth movement. The U.S.’s Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), for instance, runs 95 stations across North America. When there’s an earthquake, ANSS sends out a signal in real time, which alerts government agencies and emergency response personnel.
Earthquakes on land are serious business, to be sure, but responding to them is fairly straightforward: Direct the appropriate resources to the place where the alarm bell rang the loudest. But when earthquakes cause tsunamis, an international effort is usually required. Think about it: An earthquake under the sea doesn’t just cause a killer wave directly above it. Landmasses shift, water is displaced, and, depending on several other factors, it could end up anywhere.
Seismic waves travel 100 times faster than ocean waves, so you have to take the Earth’s movement into account to figure out when the wall of water will hit land. To understand just how important it is to use seismic data to get people safe, you only need to look back to the magnitude-9.0 Indonesian quake of 2004. The Indian Ocean had no early warning system in place, and the tsunami triggered by the earthquake killed 200,000 people in eleven countries—including 30,000 people in Sri Lanka, 1000 miles away from the epicenter. Information just didn’t get to the people who needed it fast enough.
But today, when the 8.9 hit, the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a major tsunami warning within three minutes of the event. Six minutes after that, Islands in the South pacific, Hawaii and Russia were told to watch their shores. The collaborating systems are a part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission run by UNESCO, which organizes international disaster response.
Japan is hyperaware of its shaky ground. The country withstands some thousand tremors a year, and they’ve got 180 seismographs and 600 seismic intensity meters constantly tuned to what’s going on in the underworld. They also have around 30 sea level gauges operated by the coast guard and around 80 operated by the JMA that work in chorus to provide feedback to a Data Processing and Communication system. The sensors take a reading, upload it to a central processing system using old fashioned wires and/or satellite uplink, and that central system sends updates to the government, police, coast guard, telephone companies, and the media. Sea level gauges also report disturbances in real time and help organizations model trajectory and size of the oncoming waves.
And then there are more specialized tools. The NOAA, for instance, has a handful of tsunami detection buoys that help rule out false alarms and give monitoring agencies a better idea of what they’re in for-or what their not. NOAA’s Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami system—which goes by the slick moniker ‘DART’—is made up of an anchored sea floor bottom pressure recorder and accompanying fiberglass and foam buoy on the surface. The recorder on the ocean floor, which takes a note of temperature and pressure every 15 seconds, sends data via an acoustic link to the surface buoy. The buoy then sends information by satellite to Tsunami warning centers.
How does the information get to you? Warning systems coordinate with the media. That’s how you got the information on your front page. To get even faster info, in many places you can sign up for text alerts if something disastrous is happening-or will happen, in the case of a tsunami-in your area.

courtesy: gizmodo

Emergency Kiosks – Penang Island, Malaysia

March 13th, 2011
Police Emergency Kiosks

Police Emergency Kiosks

Complete end-to-end IP video technology is behind an integrated public safety system on Penang Island, the most populated of Malaysia’s islands. Its capital, Georgetown, attracts many tourists and, as with other city centers around the world, it faces a complex security environment, including criminal activity and traffic issues.
The surveillance project consists of 31 PTZ dome cameras connected via a wireless IP network monitoring the whole of the Georgetown area. The cameras are focused on crime and traffic hot spots such as tourist areas, banks, petrol stations, traffic intersections and commercial centers.
The integration features of the IP video solution allowed a number of emergency kiosks to be installed in tourist areas. Using a transmitter/receiver module, which can transmit high-quality video and audio as well as digital input/output, a standalone video intercom solution for the kiosks was developed. When a member of the public activates the emergency button, two-way communication is opened up with one of the control room operators via a hidden microphone and camera in the kiosk. The intercom video from the kiosk automatically displays on a video management workstation and the nearest PTZ is panned and zoomed to the kiosk area. This is all achieved over the wireless network. The only cabling required is power to each of the kiosks. The PTZ domes are also connected to transmitter modules and the audio capability is used to provide public announcement facilities through speakers mounted with each camera.

Courtesy: Asmag.com

Going cellular with your Arduino projects

February 6th, 2011

going-cellular-with-arduino

It will be more interesting if we can get our projects connected, via wires or wirelessly. It can extend the functionality of the project itself. Here, i would like to share some useful stuff in order to add functionalities to your Arduino project.

You can add a huge measure of extensibility to a project by using a cellular connection. Anywhere the device can get service you can interact with it. In the past this has been a pretty deep slog through datasheets to get everything working, but this tutorial will show the basics of interacting with phone calls and text messages. It’s the 26th installment of what is becoming and mammoth Arduino series, and the first one in a set that works with the SM5100B cellular shield.

We love the words of warning at the top of the article which mention that a bit of bad code in your sketch could end up sending out a barrage of text messages, potentially costing you a bundle. But there’s plenty of details and if you follow along each step of the way we think you’ll come out fairly confident that you know what you’re doing. Just promise us that you won’t go out and steal SIM cards to use with your next project. Find part two of the tutorial here and keep your eyes open for future installments.

courtesy hackaday

Save sensor data to Google Spreadsheets by Codebox

December 25th, 2010

I found this is really a good way to gather data, since Google Spreadsheets is free and can be accessed from any places in the world as long as connected to the internet. Plus, you can share it with selected persons you want. It’s quite useful for scientific researchers to share and analyze their findings. Check this out (completed with the codes):

The “Hello Arduino” section in Chapter 11 of Getting Started with Processing shows how to read data into Processing from Arduino. In a nutshell, the Arduino code (example 11-6 in the book) reads data from a light sensor and writes it out to the serial port. The section then goes on to describe a number of increasingly sophisticated sketches that retrieve and visualize the sensor data using Processing’s Serial library.

This Codebox shows you how to save this sensor data to a Google Spreadsheet. The cool thing is that you can then use any of the goodies that Google provides (charts, gadgets, maps, etc) directly with your data. While the light sensor is pretty basic, you can use this basic setup to record data from more sophisticated sensors, such as a Parallax GPS receiver module into Google Spreadsheets, and then create a map of where you’ve been that you could post as a gadget.

The sketch relies on the Google API Client Library for Java, which is a set of code libraries for interacting with various Google’s services (not just Spreadsheets). In researching this article, I found Processing guru Jer Thorpe‘s article Open Science, H1N1, Processing, and the Google Spreadsheet API a great inspiration. While it’s based on an older version of the API (version 1.0, while the APIs are now up to version 3.0), it’s a great introduction to interacting with Google.

Courtesy Make

GardenBot Is Monitoring Your Garden

November 28th, 2010

how-to_module-map courtesy of gardenbot.org

Amazing work, and very interesting solution (of an experience of nature-lovers and DIYers) to keep an eye on your garden:

GardenBot is a garden monitoring system. This means that you put sensors in your garden, and GardenBot will show you charts of the conditions in your garden — so you can see the world the way your plants see it.

I did… er, I mean hi. My name is Andrew Frueh. Me and my wife, Melissa, like to garden a lot. We’re always experimenting with different methods in our garden and compost. We already were using a soaker hose for our garden. Last year, we used one of those mechanical timers to turn the soaker on for a pre-determined amount of time. But then…
I discovered Arduino, and immediately became engrossed. Arduino is a little computer (called a microcontroller) about the size of a business card. It has a bunch of analog and digital inputs/outputs so you can hook up various sensors, buttons, switches, audio/video devices — it’s pretty friggin’ cool. See the parts page for more information.
Anyway, considering my interests, I thought “gee, it sure would be neat to use the Arduino board to control the watering in the garden”. But then one thing led to another… and now we get to the (somewhat complete) GardenBot system that you have before you.
Like a lot of DIY-ers, I am entirely self-trained. So, there are a lot of holes in my knowledge. As I hunted around for information on the web, I found that too often the information in various tutorials was written by someone who failed to remember that lay-people (incidentally the target audience for any tutorial) don’t know the jargon, and therefor can have great difficulty in decoding the information. One of my goals with this project, is to have all the pieces laid out in plain language — step by step — to walk you through the whole process. Hopefully I pull that off.

check out the web, as all the resources and methods are well documented. Good job!

courtesy: gardenbot.org

Car eye-tracking system wakes you before you crash

November 28th, 2010

Car-dashboard-eyetracker

Falling asleep while at the helm of a few tons of metal and plastic going 60 miles-per-hour doesn’t end well, but there’s little the modern car can do about it. If it, say, stopped itself suddenly it could become a hazard to other drivers. The Eyetracker system knows it’s not on the car, though — it’s on you to drive safe.

With that in mind, the German-based Eyetracker watches the driver’s face for telltale signs of sleepiness, and issues a warning if it looks like you’re about to doze off. The system uses two cameras to keep tabs on the spatial positioning of the pupil and the line of vision — which would waver if you’re about to pass out. In other words, it makes sure your eyes are on the road.

What’s really exciting here is how small and easy to install the system is, which could see it put to use in ways other than keeping drivers awake (a noble cause, to be sure). Despite the picture above, the Eyetracker doesn’t need a laptop to function, and its control unit is the size of a matchbox. What’s more, it can be installed in any car as it handles all of its own processing itself.

Beyond just the automobile world, the Eyetacker could aid in medical operations where being able to keep on eye on — well — an eye is essential, or even in video games, serving as a head-tracker that lets the player look around without the aid of a physical controller.

Source: Fraunhofer

Wirelessly Automate Your Home

November 14th, 2010

home-automation-via-router.png

I’ve stumbled across this quite simple idea of home automation using Wifi. [Mrx23] combined OpenWRT, a microcontroller, and a set of RF controlled outlet switches to add automation to his plug-in devices. An RF remote that controls the switched outlets has been connected to an Arduino. The router communicates with the Arduino via a serial connection. And the router is controlled by a web interface which means you can use a smartphone or other web device to control the outlets.

The best thing about this system is the power that the router wields. Since it has an underlying Linux kernel you have the option of setting CRON jobs to turn lighting on and off, and group settings can be established to set up a room’s lighting level for watching movies, hosting guests, etc. Combine this with the fact that OpenWRT can use port forwarding for Internet control and the possibilities really start to open up.

Courtesy Mrx23 at Instructables.com