PLAN OF WORK
The Project is planned for 36 months.
Phase 1 will proceed from inventorying the current state of art
sensors, wireless devices, satellite services, to making the initial
simultaneous deployment of wireless links from sensors to the
Trout Lake Field Station in Wisconsin and the El Verde Fiel Station
in the El Yunque forest of Puerto Rico.
In each case careful technical site surveys will need to be taken
to determine the location and characteristics of sensors, the
pathways for digital wireless signals to travel, the data to be
collected in terms of frequency, bandwidths required, and prot
ocol formats, and the alternative sources of power sufficient
to drive the sensors and the communications systems under the
range of environmental conditions prevailing at the site, and
over the time period desired by the researchers.
Then the appropriate commercially available equipment will be
procured, the necessary original fabrication, interfacing, and
coding will be accomplished in distant facilities, and bench testing
will be accomplished. Then the systems will be installed on site,
with personnel from the LTER team assisting, in order that the
techniques of dealing with wireless can be learned by LTER technical
The tentatively planned - in collaboration with the LTER Site
PI's - initial phase deployments include:
1. Link three weather stations currently installed in the forest
- El Verde and Bisley (each at 350 meters elevation) and Pico
Del Este (1000 meters elevation). This will provide information
on how environmental variables are affected by aspect (Bisley
is windward, El Verde is leeward) and elevation (Pico Del Este
is the summit of a high peak and other sites are nearer the base
of the mountain.
2. Data from these weather sites will be linked wirelessly to
the El Verde Field Site and through it (or in the case of Bisley
through Sabena) to the Institute for Tropical Ecological Studies
(ITES) and its web site in San Juan,
Trout Lake LTER
1. Link the battery powered, middle of Sparkling Lake tethered
raft with underwater sensors, to the Trout Lake Field Station.
2. Test the feasibility of reaching 7 lake sensor sites from
Utility towers on Musky Hill with relay to the Field Station.
This will take much experimentation. 3. Connect the above sensory
data through the network at Trout Lake Field Station, to the Internet
via the 56kbps line now existing, or the future T-1 planned. Making
the data available at least in the labs at the University at Madison,
The First Phase is expected to take 6-8 calendar months with
multiple trips to each site, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico after visits
to selected sensor manufacturing companies surveying equipment
and determining exact technical characteristics.
Observe the performance, robustness, reliability of the installed
systems in Phase I, and troubleshoot, or redesign and replace.
Expand to the support of different types, from the
above, sensors or data collection locations by additional and alternative
types of radios, power, and communications techniques.
This may include, in roughly the following priority expressed
by the LTER team:
1. Monitoring streams continuously from current sensors which
measure stream velocity, PH, conductivity, and ammonium, calcium,
chloride, nitrate, potassium and sodium ions (via ion-selective
electrodes). Three or more sites, possibly up to 12-15.
2. Collection of forest floor light data over time. Linking it
to the web server for remote reading of data. This could include
data on canopy distribution of light levels as well as on the
forest floor. Develop methods for collecting data from multiple
points in a measured land plot on the forest floor.
3. Added weather stations for greater coverage of Luquillo Mountains
- which have the most variable weather in the world because of
moisture laden trade winds.
4. Transmission of audio (microphone) collection of the sounds
of a sub-species of Coqui frogs which inhabit El Toro Peak in
El Yunque which are studied by night hike trips to the peak by
collaborating LTER researchers with the USDA Forest Service.
Part of this phase will include interfacing such
real-time audio data to web server data sections at the San Juan
ITER web site location, for general use by other distant researchers.
(These 'other researchers' may include, besides university-level
resear cher, but also undergraduate science classes of K12 as well
as general college students in both Puerto Rico and the United States
which have web access to the net, and with the cooperation of the
LTER projects, can attempt serious data collection and analysis)
TROUT LAKE LTER
This may include:
Fabrication of, or attachment to radio equipped buoys obtained
by the research team that can stay in lake water year round and
transmit from underwater sensors, such as water-depth pressure
meters tethered to the bottom. Distribute sets of these and obser
ve over time.
The North Temperate Lakes Site is planning to deploy several
instrumented buoys at its primary study lake in the 1999-2000
time frame. We will link these instrumented buoys to the Field
Stations and the Internet using wireless links. Funding by recent
NSF grants to the LTER Project will determine how extensively
(number of buoys or units can be deployed, where the buoys are
purchased from LTER funds, while this wireless project funds will
concentrate on providing the interfaces and linkages to the net)
th ese can be accomplished.
1. Sensors for water temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity,
PH, chlorophyll, ammonia, nitrate, chloride, and various weather
2. Deploying, or modeling, deployment of a large number of inexpensive
units to measure water level changes in lakes.
3. Carrying out similar wireless deployments, as in Phase I above
for the Trout Lake area at the southern LTER water sites near
Madison, Wisconsin. This will include training southern site technical
personnel in how to deploy and interface radios f rom sensors
to net access points. Phase II can be expected to take 6 -8 months
with multiple trips to each site.
This is the 'push the envelope' phase, in which more complex
and difficult tasks will be attempted.
The budget contains provisions for obtaining very
innovative, small and mobile data collection, processing, transmission
and data base presentation in the earliest stages of development
by one of the most original technological inventors in the world,
Ste ve Roberts of Nomad Research. We learned in the course of researching
for this proposed project that he has early design plans for a series
of highly integrated devices that can be carried on boats, both
larger and small as canoes, capture and communicate environmental
water data via multiple satellite and service channels. Support
from this project will accelerate the creation of such original
devices by July, 2000, insuring that they are made to specifications
influenced by biological scientists who wou ld like this additional,
mobile, water or overland data capture, auto-location sensing, and
transmission capabilities ending in Linux based data bases without
manual data entry. The design of the devices are not-proprietary,
so the documentation will incl ude exacting plans for their construction
out of readily available materials and operating systems at very
low cost by researchers.
Some of the advanced techniques to be experimented with and models
1. Such as linking devices such as underwater cameras and video
for observation of living creatures.
2. Audio capture and analysis of insects such as the Killer Bee
infestation of El Yunque, whose sounds are distinct from other
3. Linking acoustic sensors capable of detecting zoo-plankton
and fish sized particles.
4. Pursue deploying more advanced sensors that are not yet commercially
available such as a CO1 Gas Flux system (a gas equilibrating chamber
and a CO2 detector in association with an anemometer) to learn
the differential between CO2 concentrations in surface water and
the atmosphere above the lake as well as the wind speed one meter
above the lake. Linking these back to the forward field site and
5. Application to terrestrial based biological science projects,
of devices originally fashioned for oceanographic research use.
(there is, according to scientists canvassed for this project,
not a lot of adaptation of oceanographic techniques and equip
ment to terrestrial needs.)
6. From the communication standpoint, links to satellite-Internet
services directly from sensor locations will be created, requiring
the fabrication and integration of sensors, wireless, satellite
ground station, power sources, interfacing and weather p roofing.
7. From the sensory data level, LTER PIs will identify data collection
and analysis tasks that they have been unable to do with prior
techniques. Appropriate sensors will be secured and interfaced,
and wireless links from these will be established. Such advanced
sensory work may include full-motion video capture, with wireless
real time transmission, of wildlife or water creatures to a base
system. Such as monitoring the nests and habitat of the endangered
Puerto Rican Parrot. Or the use of sophisticated plankton measuring
instruments and capturing and transmitting its data continuously.
Or monitoring activity by underwater video cameras in stream entry
points. Since radio waves do not propagate well through water,
except at very low frequencies, there will be challenges in assembling
useful systems which can communicate the real time data wirelessly.
Dealing with forest canopies, reduced light levels, thick stands
of trees, will require ingenuity and novel solutions to establish
reliable, all weather c ommunications from sensors to remote networks
and computer systems. One researcher in Puerto Rico would like
to be able to observe, from home, 'local' conditions on El Yunque
Peak at any time.
The connecting up of sensors, or sensors networked by terrestrial
wireless to satellite communications base stations, where the
base stations need to be small, consume little power whose battery
sources are rechargable in the field, and then interface th em
to the wireless network, and the sensors, and permit remote troubleshooting
and diagnostics, will require substantial work and experimentation.
Adapting very small low power consuming Linux systems operated
in RAM, used by NASA on shuttle systems may b e promising ways
to assemble routers for TCP/IP packets from multiple sensors.
If this project proceeds satisfactorily, centered originally
on the two LTER sites in Wisconsin and Puerto Rico, applying the
processes learned, and further developing wireless solutions to
other needs can be considered. There are 19 other formal NSF LTR
sites in the United States.
By this time in the project it can be expected, based on four
years experience with the NSF Wireless Field Test Projects between
1995 and 1999, biological scientists and technical support personnel
at the initial sites, and from other LTER Project sites, will
come to understand the capabilities of wireless connectivity from
sensory locations. And they will ask, or suggest other challenging
experiments, which we can undertake so long as they add to the
range of 'wireless models' we are attempting to develop.
Phase III can be expected to last 1 year at least, with multiple
trips to each site, for both the new work and evaluating the results
of earlier deployments of systems in the field.
Concurrent with all three phases described above, descriptions
of the experiments and the developed system designs will be posted
on the Project Web Site, as well as on individual LTER web sites
currently in operation along with data links to the actual d ata-sensory
devices, as approved by the LTER PIs, so that other researchers
can both access the real and delayed time data, and have access
to the designs of the systems used, described, with lists and
general costs of materials, and what expertise is nee ded to duplicate
the various models.
Also concurrent with the above, although probably not until Phase
II, the PI will attend workshop and conference sessions of biological
scientists and others, to report on the project, demonstrate the
wireless access to sensors, and educate the field on i ts potential
for their science. One such workshop is being proposed by LTER
personnel on spread spectrum technology at an LTER 'all-scientists'
meeting for August, 2000. 800 are expected.
This will be supplemented by written articles, and a video tape
for distribution on request, of the project.
One important task will be the 'technology transfer' from the
PI and the Project to both the PI, Co-PIs assigned to the biological
sciences projects by the LTER PIs, on the details of actual design,
fabrication, wireless link testing, and deployment of th e systems.
So that, when the Project is over, LTER and other biological science
staffs can duplicate the models for their own science and sites.
As an extension of the value of the university basic biological
research being done and the wireless links of real data to the
Internet, selected K-12 schools, at the science level in middle
and high school, will be invited to use the Internet to link to
selected study projects on the LTER Web sites, and to a greater
or lesser degree 'participate' in the analysis of the gathered
data. This could lead to the participation of qualified advanced
students and perhaps school science teachers in some of the LTE
R projects in support of the PIs.
Graduate students from the biological sciences work in the LTERs
can be expected to be offered by the PIs to work with the wireless
technologies, particularly when they are available on site during
Throughout the project, the PI, after using and
adapting industry sensors and data logging instruments, will, as
was done for Pasco Scientific during and after a seminal 'field
science by wireless' experiment was conducted at the school level
in Montana ( NSF Wireless Field Tests for Education), communicate
critiques of their instruments used in this unique way back to industry.
So that they may better design equipment used by scientists so they
may be linked, with long period deployments, to wireless networks.