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A wireless ultrasonic NDT sensor system

Benny, C.G. and Steel, K. and McNab, A. and Hayward, G. (2005) A wireless ultrasonic NDT sensor system. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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Ultrasonic condition monitoring technologies have been traditionally utilized in industrial and construction environments where structural integrity is of concern. Such techniques include active systems with either single or multiple transmit-receiver combinations used to obtain defect positioning and magnitude. Active sensors are implemented in two ways; in a thickness operation mode, or as an area-mapping tool operating over longer distances. In addition, passive ultrasonic receivers can be employed to detect and record acoustic emission activity. Existing equipment requires cabling for such systems leading to expensive, complicated installations. This work describes the development and operation of a system that combines these existing ultrasonic technologies with modern wireless techniques within a miniaturized, battery-operated design. A completely wireless sensor has been designed that can independently record and analyze ultrasonic signals. Integrated into the sensor are custom ultrasonic transducers, associated analogue drive and receive electronics, and a Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP) used to both control the system and implement the signal processing routines. BlueTooth wireless communication is used for connection to a central observation station, from where network operation can be controlled. Extending battery life is of prime importance and the device employs several strategies to do this. Low voltage transducer excitation suffers from poor signal-to-noise ratios, which can be enhanced by signal processing routines implemented on the DSP. Routines investigated include averaging, digital filtering and pulse compression.