June 13, 2024

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Mechatronics – measurement system as a modular system

Mechatronics – measurement system as a modular system

The carbon dioxide level in the classroom increases – the windows open. The sun hits the office room – the curtains make the room dark. Propane is spreading through the production facility – an alarm is triggered. This is the idea of ​​three students from HTL Rennwegwho, as part of their diploma thesis, developed a measurement system called ModuStat developed, which record environmental data via sensor modules that communicate with each other, manage it and can be specifically adapted to meet the most diverse requirements – from offices to homes to factories. Of course, moving on to external triggers such as heating, windows or blinds is just the next step. But the starting signal was given.

To date, a separate measuring device is required for each required parameter. Thermometer on the wall, carbon monoxide meter in the rear position, motion detector in the socket. “It takes up a lot of space, you have to take readings on site and evaluate them individually,” says project manager Christoph Katzenberger in an interview with the Wiener Zeitung. “If you want to evaluate and record different data over a large area, that takes a long time.” Alternatively, palm-sized units could be used in the future, which could be stacked like building blocks to form small towers. Individual parts of these towers communicate with each other, communicate with other towers and communicate with the basic unit – headquarters.

With ModuStat, measuring data should be much easier. (© ModuStat)

This is based on the so-called mesh technology. This is a network in which devices – also called nodes – communicate with each other. Unlike a WLAN system that has a router as the primary control, the nodes in network technology are closely intertwined. There is a constant connection between the nodes – in our case the towers – in order to ensure the most efficient data exchange between the individual parts and the headquarters. So each part is a receiver and a transmitter.

Home, office, manufacturing facility

“We created a cylindrical system that can be assembled completely individually, depending on the required measured values,” says Katzenberger. The lower part in the tower is the supply unit (green), which ensures the power supply with a mains connection or battery. A processor unit (yellow) has been connected to the supply ship. A microcontroller is built into this, which reads the measured values ​​and transmits them wirelessly to the control center. Sensor modules can be added in turn as needed. Using a click system, they can be stacked and taken apart almost as easily as wooden building blocks.

The shell and body of the control panel come from the 3D printer. Because everything is screwed on rather than rivet, everything is interchangeable – and recyclable, too, because “plastic is not made from crude oil, but from cornstarch,” explains deputy project manager Lukas Loeschl. The modules contain the necessary circuit boards and sensor modules to ensure measurements and data transmission. Details can be read on a touch screen and transferred anywhere – for example to a smartphone.

Katzenberger explains that the current basic configuration is intended for home use. The alarm unit is able to detect and alarm about movements in the room. The noise unit measures the volume in a room. The air quality unit measures various related data such as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide2-value. Another unit measures soil moisture in a flower pot and sounds an alarm if it is below a critical value. The LED ring unit is stylish and functional ambient lighting. But nothing stands in the way of extending the system for specific applications, for example in production facilities, warehouses or the like. For example, the filling levels of containers can also be monitored automatically.

Participate in competitions

“Because it forms its own network, it can also be used in places where there is no WLAN at all,” confirms Florian Weh, project employee. Although it basically operates on the same frequency – ie 2.4GHz – but without a WLAN router in between. “You could also put the thing in a birdhouse in the garden,” the grad student jokes. Only the main office can connect to the WLAN and transmit data remotely.

The mechatronics team has already had initial success with its development. She took 2nd place at HTL Rennweg’s Innovation Day, where all diploma theses projects were submitted to more than 70 companies. The next step is to participate in competitions to give cutting-edge technology a presence. Work has already been submitted to Young innovator and on Bosch Innovation Award. Nothing stands in the way of your startup.

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