National Instruments releases wireless I/O for NI CompactRIO

by K C Krishnadas, TechOnline India - December 29, 2011

New WSN C Series gateway, measurement nodes deliver connectivity to thousands of sensors and instruments

National Instruments (NI) has announced a new wireless gateway and three new measurement nodes extending the capabilities of the NI wireless sensor network (WSN) platform. Through the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, engineers can use the new WSN gateway to integrate wired and wireless measurement and control systems and program WSN nodes to perform local control, data analysis and event-based alarming or notification. The new devices offer higher performance and expanded connectivity to thousands of sensors and instruments.

Engineers can insert the NI 9795 C Series gateway into any available slot in a CompactRIO chassis to complement existing measurement and control systems with wireless I/O. With a similar software experience, combining wired CompactRIO monitoring and control systems with distributed WSN measurements is easier than ever. The new C Series gateway is a key addition to the existing programmable and non-programmable WSN gateways offering customers different choices in terms of cost and flexibility to communicate with deployed NI WSN measurement nodes

The new NI WSN-3214 strain/bridge completion node brings waveform acquisition capabilities to the WSN product line and delivers the ideal product for wireless structural health monitoring of bridges, buildings and equipment. The node features four analog channels that support quarter-, half- and full-bridge completion, as well as two digital I/O channels for event detection and programmatic control. With the NI LabVIEW WSN Module Pioneer, engineers can process and analyze strain data on the node to determine or predict the presence of fault conditions. They can then choose to transmit the entire waveform or only meaningful, analyzed data, which reduces the amount of wirelessly transmitted data, thereby prolonging the battery-operated lifetime of the WSN measurement nodes.

“With NI wireless sensor networks, we can easily monitor critical structures without running excessive lengths of cables. We use the LabVIEW-programmable WSN nodes to perform onboard analysis of strain data to achieve an in-depth understanding of the structural response,” said Professor Sharon L. Wood, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.

The new programmable NI WSN-3230 (one-port RS232) and NI WSN-3231 (one-port RS485) serial nodes can wirelessly control and interface with serial-based instruments, sensors and control boards. Using the LabVIEW WSN Module Pioneer, engineers can embed query and parse algorithms directly on the WSN nodes to create an autonomous, programmable interface to a variety of serial devices. These nodes also feature two digital I/O channels for event detection and programmatic control.

Engineers have long used wired systems for monitoring and control applications. As the adoption of wireless measurement technology continues, the ability to augment existing wired systems with wireless measurements is increasingly important. With these new devices, engineers can use a single software environment to create complete wired and wireless measurement and control systems, which are ideal for applications such as environmental monitoring, industrial measurements and control, energy monitoring and structural health monitoring.

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