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Designing a Bluetooth-Based Wireless Network for Distributed Shipboard Monitoring and Control Systems

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Trident Scholar Project rept. no. 310

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A Bluetooth based network has been developed for monitoring and controlling power systems on board US Navy Vessels. This network is intended for distributed measurement and control and is ideally suited for controlling individual slave nodes. The slave nodes are individual electronic systems which collect information from many sensors and make appropriate control decisions based on the occurrence of well-defined events. Bluetooth is a low-cost, low-power wireless standard, which boasts a theoretical maximum baud rate of approximately 750 kbps. The Bluetooth standard allows networking of several slave nodes. An important advantage of this system is that it can be configured for many shipboard applications. This wireless standard uses a spread-spectrum modulation scheme that allows reliable communication between devices within several sub-networks piconets in the same physical vicinity. A robust wireless network has been designed to maintain reliable connectivity among nodes even when the communication channels are adversely affected by the opening and closing of watertight doors. For testing the throughput of the Bluetooth network a low-level C program has been designed. The program establishes a Bluetooth piconet and records transmission times for several different size files. Experimental performance data have been collected using several different Bluetooth packet types and network topologies. Initial tests were completed in a long hallway to provide baseline control data. In addition, shipboard testing was done on board the ex-USS America. These tests have proved the practicability of using a Bluetooth network for shipboard control and monitoring systems.

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  • Radio Communications

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