Archive for August, 2008

ZigBee modules mesh for Russian metering

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Telegesis UK has won a major order to supply its advanced Zigbee module products to TBN Energoservice of Russia TBN Energoservice specialises in the development of automatic meter reading (AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems using the latest technical developments.

TBN is implementing a major wireless water AMR system based on ZigBee radio technology.The system uses ZigBee mesh networking software and silicon delivered in module form via the ETRX2 module produced by Telegesis.In Russia, domestic water has traditionally been preheated in dedicated power plants and pumped directly to consumer’s apartments.

TBN is implementing a major wireless water AMR system based on ZigBee radio technology. The system uses ZigBee mesh networking software and silicon delivered in module form via the ETRX2 module produced by Telegesis. In Russia, domestic water has traditionally been preheated in dedicated power plants and pumped directly to consumer’s apartments. Read more on this article…

A SINGLE Wireless standard for the process industries?

Sunday, August 31st, 2008 here we go again. I just read some editorials in the latest issue of CONTROL magazine. Greed and ego are proving to trump logic and reason once again. Users need a standard, a single open protocol standard for Wireless communications. In existence today with products being marketed offering this capability are Wireless HART…. that’s it. The Honeywell wireless is a proprietary protocol that Honeywell is batting to shove down the throats of the ISA100 committee that have been gathered for three years now trying to develop a standard. While the battle has been quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, been raging in the ISA100 committee, Wireless HART has been working hard and growing its installed base. By the end of 2008 there will be even more products offering it, including the measurement instrumentation giant Endress & Hauser and Emerson Process. I’m with them, Wireless HART is the way to go… and so is wireless in general.

Source: Monitor Technologies

Google Maps to get better satellite imagery from GeoEye

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Search giant Google signed a deal with Dulles, Va. startup GeoEye to use imagery from its newest satellite after it launches in September of this year.

This is not the first time Google has dealt with GeoEye. It already uses images from its IKONOS satellite, as well as from other sources including DigitalGlobe. As part of the new deal, GeoEye would exclusively provide its imagery to Google.
The half-billion dollar satellite is expected to provide the highest resolution images of any imaging satellite currently available. Google would even get a bit of promotion during launch: Its logo appears on the first-stage rocket.According to the two companies, Google did not pay for the logo to appear on the rocket, nor does it have any direct or indirect financial interest in the launch. It appears the Google logo is only on the rocket in recognition of its support for the project.

GeoEye says it hopes to launch the rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on September 4. If all goes well, it should be in its proper orbit within an hour-and-a-half of launch.

Imagery will be received by Google beginning in late October or early November, although it’s not clear how long it will take for the images to begin to appear on Google Maps. Imagery could conceivably be available at as high as 0.41 meters in black and white, and 1.65 meters in color.

How fine-grained is that? An Italian research project three years ago to study whether it was possible to discern certain types of automobiles that travel around the city of Baghdad (if you work in Baghdad, you’d understand why this is important) from satellite imagery alone, used pictures that had 0.68 meters resolution. And under federal law, only images with as high as 0.5 meters resolution can be used commercially.

Source: Beta News Related links: Google Earth, Geo Eye

Open Source Zigbee Stack

Sunday, August 24th, 2008 Many RF technologies are competing on 2.4GHz. The WLAN and Bluetooth have dominated the consumer wireless market. Zigbee is getting hotter in the mesh network application as well. More and more chip vendors have released their new products for Zigbee. TI/Chipcon, Freescale, Microchip, Atmel, Slilabs and Amber are active in Zigbee market. Zigbee is a wireless mesh network; its initial investment is much higher than an individual microcontroller based application. A serious development on a Zigbee project must include ICs, the Zigbee stack, the application software in the network nodes and the network administration software for the control terminals.

In September 2007, TI announced that it opened its fully functional Zigbee stack, Z-stack to the developers. Every registered developer can download the source code from the web site for free of charge. It was a shock to this market. Before this open source promotion, the quotation of this certificated Z-Stack source code was 100K USD.

Z-Stack can be downloaded in two formats: a “core” stack installer or a “full” stack installer. The “core” installer is targeted to experienced Z-Stack users who only need updated library and source files. The “full” installer is intended for users who would like additional application examples.

Source: emcelettronica

24C3 Mifare crypto1 RFID completely broken

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

It’s an old issue but still got a kind of relations to our days of life.

Another highlight for us at CCC was [Karsten Nohl] and [Henryk Plötz] presenting how they reversed Philips crypto-1 “classic” Mifare RFID chips which are used in car keys, among other things. They analyzed both the silicon and the actual handshaking over RF. Looking at the silicon they found about 10K gates. Analyzing with Matlab turned up 70 unique functions. Then they started looking “crypto-like” parts: long strings of flip-flops used for registers, XORs, things near the edge that were heavily interconnected. Only 10% of the gates ended up being crypto. They now know the crypto algorithm based on this analysis and will be releasing later in the year.

The random number generator ended up being only 16-bit. It generates this number based on how long since the card has been powered up. They controlled the reader (an OpenPCD) which lets them generate the same “random” seed number over and over again. This was actually happening on accident before they discovered the flaw.

One more broken security-through-obscurity system to add to the list. For more fun, watch the video of the presentation.

Source: Hackaday

Thai researchers adopt RFID to track fish breeding

Saturday, August 16th, 2008


Fishery researchers in Thailand plan to adopt an RFID-enabled system to track the broodstock – the fish kept isolated for breeding purposes – of several fish species key to the country’s export business. With the system, researchers can track the development of the broodstock and supervise crossbreeding programs to improve the species.

Researchers at the Department of Fisheries Science at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lad-krabang are embedding RFID chips in three aquatic species, the Giant Prawn, Nile Tilapia and Walking Catfish. The three species are crucial to Thailand’s economy, with an export value of about 2 billion bahts a year.

Since last year, the team has embedded RFID chips into more than a thousand of the three aquatic species. Researchers are working to determine the least disruptive way to insert the tags into the tiny juvenile creatures. To keep the system simple, the tags will only include a serial number to identify the individual. Other information, such as the animal’s breed, its growth and diet, will be maintained in a database.

“We will track an animal’s growth on a monthly basis, to monitor its overall development. The software will help us analyze the data. If we find that the animal is not growing well, we will implement cross breeding to improve the species,” said project leader Rungtawan Panakulchaiwit.

The project has received funding from the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre, as well as support from two private RFID companies, Silicon Craft Technology and IE Technology. After the pilot program is completed, the research center plans to promote the technology to private aquatic-animal farms across the country to help improve their farm management.

Source: RFID News

Photo: Rekhan

Hydrogen Cars Go Cross-Country — With Help From Fossil Fuels

Saturday, August 16th, 2008


Hydrogen cars get no respect. A lot of people consider them the stuff of science fiction, a technology as vaporous as the stuff that drives them. But despite some hurdles even Liu Xiang couldn’t clear — creating a fueling infrastructure comes to mind — Uncle Sam and the big automakers love hydrogen cars and are driving across the country in a fleet of them to prove they work.

Even if they’re occasionally hauled on trucks. (more…)

GlobalTrak Introduces New Radiation Detector on Wireless Remote Sensor Node

Sunday, August 10th, 2008 GlobalTrak’s Remote Sensor Nodes (RSNs) increase the shipper’s ability to monitor cargo condition with a variable set of sensors for door status, humidity, temperature, a 3-axis accelerometer, and now an extremely sensitive gamma detector, a long term stable sensor with built-in temperature compensation and low power consumption.

Richard C. Meyers, CEO of GlobalTrak, described how the sensors on an RSN add important cargo data for GlobalTrak’s customers, “Remote Sensor Nodes send reports and real-time alerts to any GlobalTrak AMU over a ZigBee protocol wireless network, allowing the data to be communicated to stakeholders. This is a flexible and convenient way of placing sensors where they need to be within a loaded container, truck trailer, or railcar.”

In a radiation monitoring application, the GlobalTrak AMU is mounted on the exterior of the container, truck trailer, or railcar with one or more RSNs equipped with the gamma detector positioned inside the load in best detection positions. The detectors have low and high alarm thresholds to accommodate varying levels of background radiation, such as might be encountered in an ocean transit versus a land route.

The same ZigBee wireless network that allows RSNs to report their status through the AMU can be used to enhance shipment security by monitoring the status of EJ Brooks’ electronic strap seals on individual packages within the shipment or bolt seals on the door of a container, truck trailer, or rail car.

Source: MarketWatch

Image: MaritimeInstituteOnline

Microsoft shows off datacenter monitoring system

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

In a move toward controlling datacenter energy consumption, Microsoft is deploying sensors that will trace work distribution to help plot for optimization

To better control energy consumption in its datacenters, Microsoft has deployed 2,000 internally built temperature and humidity sensors in several of its facilities.

The sensors use ZigBee wireless technology to transmit the data to databases that analyze the information. Data-center administrators can look at a graphical image of the datacenter that is color-coded based on temperature and at a glance see areas that are getting hot.

Ultimately, Microsoft would like to be able to distribute computational load in the datacenters based on the temperature of servers, and it is beginning to work on such a system, said Jie Liu, a Microsoft researcher working on the deployment. He showed off the devices and a view of the database at the annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in Redmond, Washington, on Tuesday.

Source: InfoWorld

XBee PRO is pretty cool

Sunday, August 10th, 2008 is an interesting blog post, mostly because the XBee Pro is rated at about 1.6 km line of sight. However this guy is claiming to get about 150m (~150 yards) before data gets corrupted….

So i have a side project that i’m working on, a wireless OBD-II scanner.  It’s pretty interesting and I have some guidence from a professor at WPI.  The wireless unit I chose to work with is the XBee PRO.  This thing is solid.  The development kit ($179) came with everything I needed to get started and get proof of concept.  I was transmitting wireless data within minutes of setting up the system.  The chip is extremely small, too, so it has a variety of applications.

Source: Zigbee News by Freaklabs