Sandia LabNews

Sandia, National Instruments build versatile wireless sensor platform for use by scientists, engineers

Sandia, National Instruments build versatile wireless sensor platform for use by scientists, engineers

Sensor parts

Sandia and National Instruments, a test-and-measurement pioneer, just completed a two-year cooperative research and development agreement to build a modular, moderately low-power, LabVIEW platform for embedded systems and wireless sensor research.

“We wanted something that we could use to enhance our capability to respond to any emerging threats,” says Richard Jennings (8232), who worked on the project with Ron Kyker (8245) and Marius Ghercioiu of National Instruments. The Austin, Texas-based company’s key software product is LabVIEW, a graphical programming language that allows users to point and click to integrate data acquisition hardware and analyze and display the results.

“We applied the modular functionality of a desktop system (motherboard with plug-in cards) to an embedded system to provide configurability, flexibility, and upgradability,” Ron says.

The instantly reconfigurable, stackable platform is available to users at Sandia to design their own applications. Richard says it is appropriate to rapidly build demonstration proof-of-concept battery-operated field test units that might be used to sense environmental conditions or chemical or biological agents.

“This is really the first thing that’s designed for scientists and engineers who want to focus on their core competency rather than learn to create hardware or software to deploy a wireless sensor. It’s something we have uniquely at Sandia right now.” If you are interested in developing an application here, call Richard at (925) 294-2696.

Richard is a LabVIEW expert who builds embedded systems using LabVIEW. Ron provided input for making the platform modular. For the telemetry department application, the platform provided the next step down from a traditional data acquisition system hooked to a computer in the lab. Instead, the platform has its own processor and a multichannel flash data storage card that provides both input and output modes.

“This will let you hook up to just about anything,” Richard says. Combined with LabVIEW, users get the flexibility of a programming language without the complexity of traditional development tools.