Articles & Case Studies

Telemetry Breakthroughs Help Aberystwyth University Study

Posted: Wednesday 20th January 2010

A team of scientists from Aberystwyth University are carrying out a baseline environmental study of the Tregaron Peat Bog region so that the impact of reopened paleo channels can be assessed and monitored. Peat bogs are by their very nature remote and inaccessible environments with unique ecosystems often undisturbed by human influences. This makes long term monitoring via spot sampling costly and inefficient, so a different approach was needed.

It was decided that pH, turbidity, level and temperature would be measured at two sites, one upstream and one downstream of the proposed impact area. RS Hydro was tasked with providing equipment and systems for the entire project, including parameter measurement, data logging and data transmission. The industry leading TROLL 9500 multi-parameter sonde was chosen for parameter measurement at the two sites. Its low-power consumption, multi-parameter capabilities and unrivalled accuracy made it ideal for this application.

Efficient and reliable data transmission from the instruments would be key to the success of the study, with real-time data needed from the units so that impacts and issues could be identified and reacted to instantly. The remote location of the bog complicated this task. A previous telemetry system install on the site drew too much power and the 2W solar panel supplied was unable to match the demands of such an inhospitable environment. GPRS coverage was also in question and standard catenas were also unable to deliver the reliable data required.

It was decided that the A753 telemetry unit in combination with RS Hydro’s Flowview online data portal would be the best combination for this application. The extremely low power design and advanced solar panels of the A753 provided the ideal solution to the remote environment and have delivered continuous date over the last 4 months without a single break or a significant power drain. By installing a directional GPRS antenna, continuous and uninterrupted data from the remote and inaccessible site was no longer an issue.

The A753 is a completely new RTU which replaces the A733. It has multiple inputs (up to 40 SDI-12 values as well as various analogue and pulse inputs) and a built in data logger and quad band Motorola GPRS modem – all housed in a discreet sealed unit. Solar panels are used to charge the onboard batteries (which will last up to two months without power), which can also be used to power the external sensors if required. Other features include high resolution, WMO compliance, synchronous and asynchronous monitoring and large internal memory. Data is transmitted from the A753 via the GPRS antenna to an A850 Gateway at RS Hydro’s head office. The scientists at Aberystwyth University are able to login securely to the Flowview web portal to manage their data.

Flowview is the most advanced data management platform currently available and takes data visualisation, processing and distribution to a new level. Programmed in Java and built on the fast and reliable Oracle database, Flowview’s modular structure is fully scalable from a single user managing 5 RTUs to a super server for thousands of clients and networks consisting of thousands of RTUs. As Flowview is fully web based it can be securely accessed from anywhere in the world via an internet connected web browser. This also removes the need to install software on client’s computers and keep that software updated.

As well as displaying data in tables and easy to read graphs which can be dragged and zoomed at the click of a mouse, Flowview also informs and/or alarms the user about specific events and provides numerous tools to process the data according to the needs of the client be it a simple report, an advanced statistic, or even complex expert systems such as predictive models.

Flowview allows for maximum flexibility in how your data can be viewed. The options to individualise the trend panels are virtually unlimited. If when viewing the Tregaron Bog data the scientists would like to compare the pH data from the upstream and downstream measurement sites, they are able to put them together into one trend panel and call it "pH Comparison". If for hardware diagnostics they would like to see the charging level of both of their stations internal batteries at a glance, they can simply place them both in a single "Battery status" panel. Colours of trend lines and panel backgrounds can be freely assigned, and both line and bar graphs can be selected. The ability to set horizontal guidelines also eases significantly the early detection of critical conditions. These areas can be marked with individual colours. Trend panels allow the team to display any desired interval. They can select hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or even annual graphs from a drop-down menu.

The ability to combine the latest measurement technology with unrivalled telemetry systems to provide clients with a total solution has been RS Hydro’s core business for over 10 years.

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