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Publication numberWO2010046939 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/IT2008/000671
Publication date29 Apr 2010
Filing date29 Oct 2008
Priority date25 Oct 2008
Publication numberPCT/2008/671, PCT/IT/2008/000671, PCT/IT/2008/00671, PCT/IT/8/000671, PCT/IT/8/00671, PCT/IT2008/000671, PCT/IT2008/00671, PCT/IT2008000671, PCT/IT200800671, PCT/IT8/000671, PCT/IT8/00671, PCT/IT8000671, PCT/IT800671, WO 2010/046939 A1, WO 2010046939 A1, WO 2010046939A1, WO-A1-2010046939, WO2010/046939A1, WO2010046939 A1, WO2010046939A1
InventorsFrancesco Corsi, Pierfrancesco Losito, Fabio Valente, Cristoforo Marzocca
ApplicantMicrolaben S.R.L.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
Wireless system for greenhouse monitoring and control
WO 2010046939 A1
Abstract
Wireless system for monitoring the climatic conditions inside a greenhouse and for automatically and/or remotely controlling the actuators, used to intervene suitably when possible harmful situations for the cultivations occur, based upon a hierarchical network infrastructure organised on two levels. The system consists of: a wireless network of devices based upon standard IEEE 802. 15.4 (ZigBee) characterised by self-configuration of the nodes, low power consumption, high flexibility of implementation; a central unit for processing, storing and transmitting data with an autonomous lithium ion battery power supply system. In the wireless network there are: battery-powered low-consumption sensor nodes for detecting, at programmable time intervals, the values of the parameters, inside and/or outside, of interest for the optimal growth of the cultivations (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, PH of the earth, PAR solar radiation); actuator nodes for managing suitable control commands, like for example the activation or deactivation of the air extractors, of the fans, of the irrigation electro valves, of the heat pumps, etc.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
1) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) comprising, at a first hierarchical level, a plurality of peripheral nodes (2) based upon standard IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and a central processing unit (3) whereas, at a higher hierarchical level, it comprises a GPRS/UMTS interface for communicating with a remote server (4) for displaying and storing the detected data as well as for controlling the system, the central unit of the network (3) being the link between the first level infrastructure (ZigBee wireless network) and the hierarchically greater connectivity (GPRS/UMTS interface).
2) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses according to claim 1, characterised in that the central processing unit of the network (3) has a scalable architecture comprising a series of independent modules, each of which implements one of the various functionalities foreseen for the system:
ZigBee module for managing the entire network of nodes; ■ GPRS/UMTS module for managing communication with a remote server through TCP/IP protocol;
GSM module to allow both the system to be controlled through SMS by one or more mobile telephones (configuration of the operating parameters, notification of possible alarm situations detected, sending the values detected by the sensors upon request), and sound alarms to be forwarded to one or more telephone users;
■ module based upon the recent WiMAX protocol to be used should no GSM/GPRS/UMTS connection be available; such a module has the advantage of being easy to interface with the system, requiring just insertion into a housing arranged ad hoc,
■ SD module for storing the history of the data received from the sensors and the interventions made on the actuators;
■ Bluetooth module to allow interaction with the system through a mobile device (PDA, Smartphone, laptop) equipped with Bluetooth interface;
■ LAN module for configuring the system locally and displaying the data coming from the sensors, through an integrated Embedded Web Server.
■ LCD module, consisting of a colour LCD display with touch screen per Ia for displaying the state of the greenhouse and for locally controlling the actuators. Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claim 1, characterised in that the peripheral nodes (2) arranged hierarchically in the wireless network at the first level have an architecture according to the scheme in fig. 3 according to which they have a ZigBee section for radio connection with the central unit and a processing section for decoding messages coming from the central unit and for managing the sensors and the actuators. 4) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claims 1 and 3, characterised in that said peripheral nodes (2) can be configured as:
Sensor Node for detecting the desired environmental parameters;
■ Actuator Node for actuating the control commands coming from the Central Unit; ■ Sensor/Actuator Node to obtain the functionalities both of the sensor node and of the actuator node;
Routing node to allow the radio coverage area of the network to be widened, through the definition of alternative routing pathways of the signal. 5) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claims 1, 3 and 4 characterised in that the electronics of the peripheral node are made through two separate boards interconnected with one another: a motherboard with radio section and processing section and a daughter board with sensor section and/or actuation section and EEPROM configuration memory.
6) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claim 1 and from 3 to 5 characterised in that it is possible to vary the parameters to be monitored by means of the peripheral nodes (2) by replacing the daughter board containing the sensors and by replacing or reprogramming the EEPROM through one of the interfaces of the Central Unit (LAN, BLUETOOTH, GPRS/UMTS, SMS), using ZigBee connectivity. 7) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claim 1 and from 3 to 6 characterised in that the execution of each command sent by the Central Unit towards a Peripheral node is confirmed by a return message only after having checked that the command has been executed correctly.
8) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claim 1 and from 3 to 6 characterised in that the power supply of the peripheral nodes can be by means of an external power supply or, in the case in which none were available, through two AA batteries with a voltage of 1.5 V.
In the case of power supply in alternating current it is foreseen to use an AC/DC transformer.
9) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to the previous claim characterised in that in order to optimise energy consumption and the increase in autonomy of the nodes (2), a power management solution is foreseen, in which the devices remain in a power down state, characterised by extremely low power consumption for most of the time, only activating itself in the period strictly necessary to make the detections and send them to the Central Unit, as shown in the diagram in fig. 4.
10) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to claim 1 characterised in that the communication with the control server (4) takes place through the exchange of suitable messages using the TCP/IP protocol, in this way allowing the user, through one of the interfaces of the Central Unit (LAN, BLUE, GPRS/UMTS/WiMAX, SMS), to:
set the attention thresholds for each of the sensors present; ■ vary the sampling intervals of the magnitudes to be monitored for each node;
■ vary the number of consecutive measurements outside the threshold that each sensor must record before generating an alarm; ■ programme the configuration EEPROM;
■ set the operating parameters of the system.
11) Wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses (1) according to the previous claim characterised in that if a lack of communication with the remote server (4) should occur an "offline" operating mode is foreseen according to which the data is stored locally on a Secure Digital (SD) type memory support waiting to then be transmitted to the server once the connection has been restored.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Wireless system for greenhouse monitoring and control

DESCRIPTION

The object of the present finding is a wireless system for monitoring and controlling greenhouses based upon a hierarchical network infrastructure organised on two levels. In the state of the art different applications have been found for wireless systems in general, some using the ZigBee transmission standard in the field of PAN (Personal Area Network) wireless networks, others using conventional methods for monitoring and control applied to greenhouses.

For example, patent No. WO07148876 has as its object a system for implementing communication at many levels. Such a system comprises a plurality of mobile systems, equipped with a ZigBee module, through which it is possible to interact by starting various types of communication (chat, voice calls, gaming sections).

Another example consists of patent No. WO08067764 that describes a method, as well as the relative system, for managing a ZigBee network. The system comprises a ZigBee network device and an information database for managing the device itself. Through two-way communication channels between database and network device it is possible to arrange the necessary management operations. Another application worth noting is that of patent No. US20080137572, having as its object a system based upon ZigBee standard for controlling household appliances. Through the creation of a WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) of ZigBee sensors it is possible for a user to control a list of household appliances.

In patent No. WO8202816, on the other hand, there is a "conventional" method for monitoring the temperature in a greenhouse, since it is not foreseen to use any wireless network, but just a series of technical provisions to ensures that the desired temperature does not exceed a fixed threshold.

As can be seen, the state of the art concerns a series of particular applications linked largely to the use of ZigBee wireless networks above all in the field of mobile communication. However, there has not been sufficient importance given to the creation of a more complex system structured hierarchically through the integration of different wireless technologies (including ZigBee standard) and applied particularly to the monitoring and control of the microclimatic conditions of greenhouses. The purpose of the finding, therefore, is to make a system for monitoring the microclimatic conditions inside a greenhouse and for automatically and/or remotely controlling the actuators, used to intervene suitably when possible harmful situations for the cultivations occur, based upon a hierarchical network infrastructure organised on at least two levels. In an application for monitoring the environmental parameters inside a greenhouse, indeed, it can prove essential to have the help of a wireless network capable of making a system characterised by high flexibility, simplicity of implementation and low installation costs.

It should be noted that, although greenhouses are protected from external atmospheric agents, without a suitable control system it is very probable that undesired conditions will occur inside: for example values outside of the temperature and humidity range can prevent the growth of plants, limit the production of fruits and at the same time promote the spread of diseases, as well as the proliferation of parasites, all with devastating results for productivity. Amongst the various wireless communication technologies released over the past decade in different fields, ZigBee (IEEE 802.15) standard without doubt provides a suitable infrastructure for the implementation of sensor networks characterised by low transmission speeds, low costs, very low energy consumption and high safety and reliability. All of these characteristics make said transmission standard ideal for making a distributed monitoring system.

The system object of the invention, indeed, at the lowest hierarchical level, foresees a wireless network, based upon the ZigBee standard, made up of a central unit and a plurality of peripheral nodes, whereas at the higher hierarchical level it is foreseen to use a GPRS/UMTS interface for communicating with a remote server for displaying and storing the detected data and for controlling the system. In such a configuration, the central unit of the network represents the link between the first level infrastructure (ZigBee wireless network) and the hierarchically greater connectivity (GPRS/UMTS interface). The peripheral nodes of the ZigBee wireless network intended for controlling the environmental parameters inside the greenhouse have an architecture designed to obtain the maximum flexibility in the integration of the sensors: each node, indeed, can manage a variable number of sensors having different characteristics. In turn, said sensors can easily be interchanged through simple operations, which can even be carried out by untrained personnel, better described hereafter. In any case, the parameters that can be monitored through the sensors foreseen for the system are:

• temperature;

• humidity;

• wind speed and direction; • pH of the earth;

• PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) solar radiation.

Moreover, it is possible to integrate onto each sensor node, a photographic camera capable of providing instant images of the greenhouse upon request from the user. The remote server for controlling and managing the system, on the other hand, is a software application that, through an intuitive user interface, allows:

■ real time display of the state of one or more greenhouses; ■ setting of the configuration parameters of the remote systems;

■ interaction with the remote systems by directly commanding the actuators that are present;

■ storage on file of the data detected by the systems. The operations just listed are possible through the GPRS/UMTS connection with the Central Unit, on TCP/IP protocol. In particular, the server is designed to provide a service that is accessible, through suitable security procedures, to the various accredited users, through "remote client" connections. The detailed description of the invention refers to the attached tables 1/3, 2/3, 3/3. In particular:

• fig. 1 shows an example diagram of the entire wireless control and monitoring system;

• fig. 2 shows the architecture of the central unit; • fig. 3 shows the architecture of a peripheral node;

• fig. 4 shows a flow diagram relative to the operation of a i peripheral node;

With reference to the aforementioned figures, the wireless system for controlling and monitoring greenhouses is indicated with 1, the sensor/actuator nodes belonging to the ZigBee wireless network arranged at the first hierarchical level are indicated with 2, the central processing unit of the network is indicated with 3, whereas the remote control server is indicated with 4. In fig. 2, a block diagram of the architecture of the central unit 3 is shown. It has a scalable architecture made up of a series of independent modules, each of which implements one of the various functionalities foreseen for the system:

• ZigBee module for managing the entire network of nodes; • GPRS/UMTS module for managing communication with a remote server through TCP/IP protocol;

• GSM module to allow both the system to be controlled through SMS by one or more mobile telephones (configuration of the operating parameters, notification of possible alarm situations detected, sending the values detected by the sensors upon request), and sound alarms to be forwarded to one or more telephone users;

• module based upon the recent WiMAX protocol to be used should no GSM/GPRS/UMTS connection be available; such a module has the advantage of being easy to interface with the system, requiring just insertion into a housing arranged ad hoc;

• module SD for storing the history of the data received from the sensors and the interventions made on the actuators; • module Bluetooth to allow interaction with the system through a mobile device (PDA, Smartphone, laptop) equipped with Bluetooth interface;

• module LAN for configuring the system locally and displaying the data coming from the sensors, through an integrated Embedded Web Server;

• LCD module, consisting of a colour LCD display with touch screen for displaying the state of the greenhouse and for locally controlling the actuators. The entire architecture just described is substantially modular, i.e. it allows the characteristics of connectivity to be varied according to the user's requirements, as well as local availability of communication infrastructures.

In fig. 3 the architecture of the peripheral nodes is illustrated, i.e. those belonging to the wireless network situated hierarchically at the first level. As can be seen from fig. 3, such peripheral nodes have:

• a ZigBee section for radio connection with the central unit; • a processing section for decoding the messages coming from the central unit and for managing the sensors and the actuators.

Moreover, in relation to the role assumed, said peripheral nodes shall be equipped with one or two additional sections: • a Sensor section; • an Actuator section.

The Sensor Section can house a digital CMOS temperature and relative humidity sensor and a maximum of 8 analogue sensors connected to the 8 channels of the ADC (with 12 bit resolution) of the central microcontroller. In the same section there is the circuitry for interfacing, conditioning and adapting the analogue signals.

The Actuation Section, however, comprises a maximum of four outputs for relay control. As already stated earlier for the central unit, the architecture of the peripheral nodes also has clear characteristics of modularity and flexibility. Indeed, they can be configured as:

* Sensor Node: detects environmental parameters and, therefore, it is equipped with just the Sensor Section; ■*• Actuator Node: responds to the commands coming from the Central Unit, therefore it is equipped with just the Actuation Section (Actuator Section);

■ Sensor/Actuator Node: foresees the functionalities both of the sensor node and of the actuator node, for which reason it is equipped with both of the Sections;

- Routing node: allows the radio coverage area of the network to be widened, through the definition of alternative routing pathways of the signal; as such it requires an external power source and can be configured with Sensor and/or Actuator functionality. The electronics of the peripheral node are made through two separate boards: a motherboard with radio section and processing section and a daughter board with sensor section and/or actuation section and EEPROM configuration memory. The two boards are connected together through a flat able.

In this way, it is possible to vary the parameters to be monitored through simple operations:

♦ replacement of the daughter board containing the sensors;

♦ replacement or reprogramming of the EEPROM configuration memory.

Highly advantageously, with regard to the EEPROM, it is possible to carry out the reprogramming of the EEPROM through the Central Unit, using ZigBee connectivity, without having to directly access the device by following one of the following approaches:

♦ local LAN reprogramming, i.e. through the LAN interface of the Central Unit;

♦ local BLUE reprogramming, i.e. through the Bluetooth section of the Central Unit; ♦ remote GPRS/UMTS/WiMAX reprogramming, i.e. through the GPRS/UMTS/WiMAX interface of the Central Unit;

♦ remote SMS reprogramming, i.e. through the GSM section of the Central Unit. For each peripheral node it is foreseen for it to be possible to use various power sources, obviously according to availability. In the case in which there is no external power supply the devices shall be supplied with power through two AA batteries with a voltage of 1.5 V. The batteries are connected in series and, from the voltage of 3 V, reference voltages are generated on the board 4 for supplying power to the various devices and sensors. Should there be an external power source, the devices shall be supplied with power through it; whereas in the case in which exclusively alternating current is available it is foreseen to use an AC/DC transformer.

In order to best exploit the battery power supply some power management solutions have been implemented aimed at optimising energy consumption and at increasing the autonomy of the nodes, as illustrated in fig. 4. The devices remain in a power down state, characterised by extremely low power consumption for most of the time, activating only in the period strictly necessary to carry out the detections and send them to the Central Unit. In addition, and operating mode is foreseen in which, should the sampled value approach a threshold value, the sampling frequency would automatically be increased, making the measurements denser in order to quickly detect an alarm condition. In order to increase the level of reliability of the system a security protocol has been implemented, which foresees that the execution of every command sent by the Central Unit to a Peripheral node be confirmed by the latter through a return message sent only after having checked that the command has been executed correctly. The operation of the system as a whole is strictly connected to the functionalities with which the system is equipped, i.e. the interfaces of the central unit. With regard to the control of the system through SMS only one user is allowed to register with permission to interact with the system. All of the SMS control messages are preceded by a security password, which can easily be changed through a simple procedure, implemented ad hoc. It is also possible to vary the registered user allowed to take control at any time, simply by sending an SMS message, again preceded by the security password. The communication with the control server takes place through the exchange of suitable messages, using two TCP/IP ports: one for the incoming messages, the other for the outgoing messages. The user, through one of the interfaces of the Central Unit (LAN, BLUE, GPRS/UMTS/WiMAX, SMS), has the possibility to: • set the attention thresholds for each of the sensors present;

• vary the sampling intervals of the magnitudes to be monitored for each node;

• vary the number of consecutive measurements outside the threshold that each sensor must record before generating an alarm; • programming the configuration EEPROM;

• setting the operating parameters of the system: IP address of the communication server;

communication ports of the server; telephone number of the registered user, permitted to take control; telephone numbers to which possible messages and/or alarm calls are to be sent;

Bluetooth address of the associated mobile device, It is foreseen for the system to also have an operating mode defined as "Offline" that could occur in the case of a momentary lack of communication with the Remote server (due, for example, to a loss of coverage of the GPRS/UMTS signal or to a problem linked to the software of the Server). According to said mode the data is stored locally on a Secure Digital (SD) memory support, waiting to then be transmitted to the server once the connection has been restored.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20080062258 *7 Sep 200613 Mar 2008Yakov BentkovskiMethod and system for transmission of images from a monitored area
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *Y.W. ZHU, X.X. ZHONG, J.F. SHI: "The Design of Wireless Sensor Network System Based on Zigbee Technology for Greenhouse", JOURNAL OF PHYSICS: CONFERENCE SERIES 48 (2006), 2006, International Symposium on Instrumentation Science and Technology, pages 1195 - 1199, XP002539274
2 *ZHOU YIMING, YANG XIANGLONG, GUO XISHAN, ZHOU MINGANG, WANG LIREN: "A Design of Greenhouse Monitoring & Control System Based on Zigbee Wireless Sensor Network", WIRELESSCOMMUNICATIONS, NETWORKING AND MOBILE COMPUTING, 2007. WICOM 2007. INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, 25 September 2007 (2007-09-25), pages 2563 - 2567, XP002539273
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Classifications
International ClassificationG08C17/02
Cooperative ClassificationY02P60/147, G08C17/02, A01G9/24
European ClassificationG08C17/02
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