IoT Monkey > Faces > The engineers behind the WSN Vesna

The engineers behind the WSN Vesna

Today I am happy to introduce you these two guys from the Jožef Stefan Institute from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Here are Jernej Hribar [on the left] and Klemen Bregar [on the right]. I met them at the Internet of Things and Smart Cities 2014. They are part of the team that has created Vesna – a low-cost, yet powerful sensor node.

The sensor node is named after Vesna, the Slavic goddess of spring – however if you put correlation to WSN [Wireless Sensor Network]  it is a nice game of words. Vesna is small, modular microcontroller built around STM-32F103 processor.

Here is the Vesna wireless sensor board developed by the Sensor Lab at the JSI, Ljubljana:

DSCF2231

In the middle of the board is the STM-32F103 processor. The red connectors are the Vesna BUS and they are used for connecting external sensor boards. On the right [top] you can see the USB port and it is also used for powering the board. Right below it, you have a [programmable] button. It is also used for booting the processor.

DSCF2230

On the other side, you can easily distinguish the [micro] SD card reader, which can be used to boot the OS from. On the left [middle] there is a debug port and right on top of it power connector [batteries]. On the right side [enumerated] you can see the three LED – two for power indication via USB [01], processor activity indication [02] and a programmable one [03].

Vesna is incredible in terms of support for external peripherals, sensors and communication interfaces. Given the low price aim that the team have – it will probably be performing very well on the market when it go off to the wide public.

In terms of supported peripherals, Vesna supports RS-232, RS-422/485, CAN, USB [master/slave], SPI, I2C and SDIO.

You can hook literally all kind of sensors to it, just to name a few:

  • Temperature
  • Air pressure
  • Pressure (absolute and differential)
  • Humidity
  • Luminance
  • Acceleration Gyroscope
  • GPS/position
  • Microwave radar
  • Lightning
  • Microphone (intensity and spectrum)
  • Radio spectrum (ISM, UHF)

All these sensors will not be that useful if they cannot transmit data back and forth, so the pals at JSI ensured it by providing support for the following communication methods. Vesna supports:

  • 802.15.4
  • ZigBee
  • 6LoWPAN [fully IPv6 ready]
  • Wireless M-BUS
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi [the good old thing]
  • GSM/GPRS
  • Ethernet

Making use of all these technologies is possible thanks to the support for ContikiOS [event driven OS] and the upcoming port of NuttX [real time OS].

There are pretty much cases in which you can put Vesna in the center, orchestrating things, however I will give you two practical examples only.

The Vesna microcontroller can be used for measuring power sockets consumption and quality [after connecting the board ot the red bus on the photo]. This means you can “deploy” Vesna powered power sockets at your home, then measure what is the quality of electricity [in terms of frequency] your appliance gets, as well as the consumption it makes. Even though a conceptual “thing”, it will be on the shelves around us at some point.

vesna_socket

Watching after a power socket sounds as something easy to accomplish, however Vesna can do a lot more and scale big. Below is a diagram of 7 Vesna sensor nodes and 1 Vesna gateway that are used for monitoring an experimental photovoltaic power plant in Slovenia. Thanks to Vesna, weather, temperature and current DC at this photovoltaic power plant can be monitored from remote location.

vesna_powerplant

Technologies like Vesna are amazing and has always amazed me much. They might have been something from the future, but they no longer belong there – they are among us. People like Jernej and Klemen are driving the world to a direction where Vesnas will be all around. Interesting days ahead.

As Vesna develops further, I will be giving you regular updates thanks to the cooperation of these two wonderful guys, which I met at the Internet of Things and Smart Cities Ph.D school 2014, in Lerici, Italy.