Wireless data acquisition platform


Our team built pneumatic powered vehicle and we would like to log significant data about our vehicle. Cylinder’s pressures, temperatures, air flows, GPS, IMU and some more. In total we need to inspect 33 sensors. All of them about 10 times per second. Preferably 500 - 700 meters distance from car, during a race.
Also, engine is controlled with Bosch Rexroth PLC unit.

So what would be the best option to gather such data and analyse it. We have budget of 1000 EUR and countless hours of time.

Our vision was to gather data, send it to computer (max 700 meters further) and analyse it with custom labview program.
At the moment we are not sure which development board to use to start with and which should be the main architecture. Should we use SPI or serial? etc.

So what would you think? Can arduino handle such data speeds? Could we use NRF24L01 module?

Best regards!

Best regards

Hi, welcome to the forum.

The Arduino is about fast prototyping and for small hobby project. However, the Arduino has grown in every direction and is used in so many applications, its possibilities are endless.

Handling 33 sensors 10 times a second is too much for a single normal Arduino.
The distance of 700 meters is beyond the normal range of most RF modules.

My suggestion is to break down the project into small pieces.
Are there RF modules that can do that range with that amount of data ? The XBee modules are reliable. Get at least one with 6 miles range : XBee Buying Guide - SparkFun Electronics
Is the 900MHz with 6 mile range legal in your country ?

Gathering data could be done with a fast Arduino, like the Arduino Due. However, I don't know how to collect data of 33 sensors. You might need to add extra hardware.
Perhaps you need a Raspberry Pi, or BeagleBone, or Teensy, or a mini-computer.
Could you make a list of the 33 sensors and the data that they have. Is most of them a single 16-bit integer ?

Controlling sensors could be done with normal Arduino boards, like the Uno. Or a small Arduino board, like the Pro Mini (very compatible with almost every library) or Trinket (small, handy, but less compatible) or other small boards.


We would like to check

Sensors purpose

Cilinders positsions: Total: 4
Cilinder1 Pos
Cilinder2 Pos
Cilinder3 Pos
Cilinder4 Pos

Air flow sensors: Total: 6
Silinder1 Flow
Silinder2 Flow
Silinder3 Flow
Silinder4 Flow
Reservour entry
Reservour exit

Air pressures: Total: 5
Silinder1 Pressure
Silinder2 Pressure
Silinder3 Pressure
Silinder4 Pressure
Reservour pressure

Air temp: Total: 7
Reservour entry
Reservour exit
Main pressure reducer
Cilinders 1-4

Various positions Total: 8
Crankshaft pos
Break pedal pos
Gas pedal pos
Steering wheel pos
Suspension pos 4 wheels

GPS pos Total: 1
IMU Total: 1

Vehicle speed sensor Total: 1

Problem with 900MHz is that this is our GSM bandwidth and is banned in our country.
We could start building on board system and then we have time to select proper RF module to use. So for starters RasPi and maybe connect couple of arduinos to it with ethernet boards?

Best Regards

I think a number of Arduino boards can be used for the sensors. Developing something with Arduino and sensors is the fastest way.
GPS: http://www.adafruit.com/products/746
state-of-the-art IMU: http://www.adafruit.com/products/2472

Arduino with Ethernet is big and needs more current than normal, but it can be a good option.
Or a few RS-485 busses could be used between the Arduino boards and the central unit.
Or a CAN bus, it is specifically developed for automotive applications. If you have any experience with CAN, that might be also a good option.
Or fiber optics interface between the Arduino boards and the central unit.

Arduino + CAN is no problem : CAN-BUS Shield - DEV-13262 - SparkFun Electronics
I think there is also a CAN add-on board for the Raspberry Pi.

This projects needs a lot of time and effort. Is it possible to start small ? for example storing 10 sensors to an SD card ?

For normal cars, the Arduino can sometimes connect to the car computer. Perhaps in your vehicle some industry standard sensors are used that have already an interface. I'm afraid that you develop everything from scratch while there is already proven technology for cars.

If 900MHz is not legal, you are in trouble. Are you sure it is not legal ? Is it possible to buy walkie-talkies with a few km range in your country. Those use often 900MHz. Is it possible to buy a communication system that motorcycles use during a match ? Also those use often 900MHz.
There are often strict rules for the transmit power for 433MHz, 868MHz, and 2.4GHz. Those can't get that far.