HUDSON, MA --- The SignalFire Remote Sensing System (SRFSS) offered a more secure and robust alternative to an aging wired sensor control system for remote monitoring of hydroelectric dam levels. Previously, a hydrostatic level sensing system consisting of a hard-wired cable measured reservoir water levels of a hydroelectric dam. In determining the amount of available energy and storage volume in the dam, reservoir water level height must be continuously monitored.
Besides being aged and frequently damaged by falling trees, the wired system had problems with ground faults and lightning strikes. The installation of a replacement wired level sensing system from the dam to the powerhouse posed physical challenges. To meet redundancy requirements, a second backup would double costs.
The challenge was installing a new measurement system that could transmit level data to the power generation control system in a secure, reliable, consistent and cost-effective method. As the distance from the dam to the power station, where the water turbine and generator are located, is two miles downstream, the water level must be monitored at very remote locations
As a wireless system, the SignalFire Remote Sensing System does not require cabling, eliminating the risk of failure due to lightning strikes and ground faults. Consisting of a gateway and remote nodes, the wireless sensor control system operates on an adaptive radio network to seamlessly integrate with the hydrostatic transmitters suspended in the dam and send level data to a remote programmable logic controller located at the power station.
With a range of approximately three miles, the network with a redundant communications link, is both self-installing and self-configuring. Wireless nodes install themselves automatically into the network and adapt to network changes.
Powered by battery and solar energy, the SignalFire wireless sensor control system ensures reliability under all conditions as the dam and repeater station have no power. A backup repeater provides a level of redundancy to ensure that the signals /data have the highest degree of reliability. The stringent requirements of the application required that the telemetry system is failsafe, performs in extreme high and low temperatures (-50ºC to 60ºC) and operates on battery and solar power only.