Wireless sensor network development for the purpose of measuring acceleration in snow

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


A WSN (Wireless Sensor Network) was developed for the purpose of measuring snow acceleration in response to loading of various types. In its current state, the WSN is composed of seven nodes (radio enabled sensors) and one controller. Two dynamic ranges, +/- 10 g and +/- 40 g, allow for user adjustment based on the required sensitivity of measurement. Acceleration data is logged simultaneously across all active nodes; data from an analog accelerometer is stored by each node on a microSD card. Data throughput limits the maximal sampling frequency to 10 kHz at 8-bit precision, or 5 kHz at 10-bit precision. Empirical investigation of GEM (Green Environmental Monopropellant) as a tool for avalanche mitigation was conducted with the first iteration of the WSN. The GEM explosive is compared with the industry standard, Pentolite; the metrics of comparison are those of overpressure, impulse per unit area, and the resulting snow acceleration. This study showed the effectiveness of the WSN as a tool for measuring snow dynamic response under explosive loading. Additionally, an ECT (Extended Column Test) instrumented with the WSN on this day elicited continued development of the WSN. A detailed look at the components of the WSN provides the physical and electrical qualities focused on the nodes intended environment - seasonal snow. Theory of operation, and a standard operating procedure, provide fundamental knowledge for the end user. Modal testing was performed to characterize the vibration response of the node. Natural frequencies are identified within the bandwidth of the accelerometer, and it is shown that these frequencies are not present in signals collected in snow under impulsive loading. Acceleration data acquired by the WSN in a series of stability tests, conducted in the lab and in the field, demonstrate the utility of the system.



Sensor, Accelerometer, Snow


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