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Practical Guidelines for building a Magnetometer by Hobbyists

Practical Guidelines for building a Magnetometer by Hobbyists


Part 5 : Differential Magnetometer Project

W. Bayot

Version 2.0

11 April 2008

Practical Guidelines for building a Magnetometer by Hobbyists .................................................................. 1
Part 5 : Differential Magnetometer Project.................................................................................................... 1
1. Overview............................................................................................................................................... 2
2. Polarization Switching control ............................................................................................................... 3
3. Amplifier/Filter chain.............................................................................................................................. 3
4. Main Control Module............................................................................................................................. 3

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Practical Guidelines for building a Magnetometer by Hobbyists 2
Part 5 : Differential PPM Project

1. Overview
The Differential PPM project aims at the same goals as the Double PPM Project but using a variation of
design, implementation and packaging. This project was conducted by J. Khoeler and I in parallel with the
first project. Note that, at this time, each project has produced its own family of operational prototypes.

The Double PPM project chose to build an operational instrument implemented with the simplest and
easiest to find thru-hole components and standard micro-controllers from the MICROCHIP family.

The Differential PPM project uses a more advanced, professional design, SMD components and a family
of very fast micro-controllers with performances close to DSP. These types of 32-bit ARM micro-controller
are able to perform the signal processing we require in real-time (Clock = 60MHz), provides a large flash
space (512KB) to enable to contain large and sophisticated programs and a large RAM space (42KB) to
contain the large data arrays required to the signal processing.

This project has used a more advanced, professional design, SMD components and a family of very fast
micro-controllers.

This is the Block Diagram of the Differential Magnetometer system.

- The survey instrument is the mobile station. It is manually operated and transported from point to
point on the survey field. Its current XY position can be manually defined by the operator according to
a grid of wires sitting on the ground or it could optionally be defined by an automatic positioning
system (GPS or Ultrasonic). It gathers the survey results of each survey point and safely stores them
on a local SD-Card.
- The Static station is fixed and located somewhere close but outside the survey field. Its purpose is to
gather the survey results of a single point and to safely store them on a local SD-Card. The fixed
station just records the survey results on a log file and sounds an alarm in case of detection of
possible errors in the measured values.
- Each instrument is normally equipped with a single channel board and sensor.
o The instrument automatically triggers measurement cycles at a defined periodicity.
o For each measurement, the program executes some calculations and validations on the data
and sounds an alarm if necessary.
o If the measurement is accepted, the instrument records the survey data on a log file (on SD-
Card) and displays the current results on an local LCD.
o There are two variants of instrument configuration:
1. The polarization cycles of the two stations are synchronized on their respective RTC.
The two RTC are initialized when entering a Start of Session command on both
instruments at the same time. This enables the merging of the measurement results
based on the RTC and the calculation of the B field difference in nT between the two
stations. In this configuration, there are still two variants:
A GPS device is operational at the mobile station and feeds the log file with
the global coordinates of each survey point. In this case, the operator walks
on an approximate zig-zag line over the area to be surveyed while covering
the area as regularly as possible. The surveyed area can have any polygonal
shape.
A GPS is not available at the mobile station. In this case, the operator should
walk on straight survey lines in a zig-zag path and trigger an increment of line
number at each end of a survey line. The coordinates of the points on each
survey line will be interpolated later on by the post-processing program based
on a given real survey line length. The surveyed area is limited to rectangular
shapes.
2. The polarization cycles of the two stations are synchronized on the UTC given by
their respective GPS. In this case, both stations are equipped with a GPS and record
the UTC as time stamps. The global coordinates of each GPS are also used to
increase the positionning precision by giving differential GPS values.

Each Instrument is built from 2 distinct, interconnected boards:
A single channel board with a single sensor for Polarization Control/Signal
Amplification/Filtering. This board is self-contained with its own CPU for polarization control and
connects to the main board thru a simple audio cable.
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Practical Guidelines for building a Magnetometer by Hobbyists 3
Part 5 : Differential PPM Project
One main Controller Board controlling the whole system, the storage of grid data, the storage of
system parameters and the optional human interface for the instrument. This control board also
makes the connections with the 5-button Keyboard and LCD when a human-interface is
needed. The controller board can also be set as a slave unit under control of a PC through one of
its two serial interfaces.


2. Polarization Switching control
This is the Circuit of the Polarization Switching system. The polarization control is based on a small
ATMEL AVR ATtiny12 controller. Its small program controls the sequencing and precise timing of the
polarization switching procedure. The beginning and end of the polarization cycle are triggered by a single
input digital line coming from the main control module. While idle, this program sets the controller in sleep
state in order to avoid disturbing the sensitive analog stages with digital noise during the measurement
cycle.
The switching circuit is protected against accidental short-circuit in the sensor circuit by immediately
detecting any anomalously high current and cuts the polarization fast enough to avoid any damage to the
MOSFETs.
The main 12V power supply is also protected against accidental polarity inversion of the battery voltage.
3. Amplifier/Filter chain
The two Low noise Signal Pre-Amplifier stages are based on an extremely low noise transistor pair
LM394. The tuning of the sensor can be adjusted by a series of 8 capacitors through a DIP switch.
The gain of the following amplifier stage is dynamically programmable from the program in the main
control module through an I2C link.
The Bandpass Filtering is made by a switched-capacitor filter chip whose center frequency and bandwidth
are dynamically programmable from the program in the main control module through an I2C link.

4. Main Control Module
This is the Main Control Circuit of the Differential PPM system. It controls the polarization and signal pick-
up cycles through a single digital line, makes all the signal processing calculations and stores the survey
results on a local SD-Card.
It is based on the powerful Philips LPC2138 with its ARM architecture, 60MHz clock and 512Kbytes flash
memory.
The LCD is used to display the current field nT value and XY coordinate as well as menu display for
parameter settings on the instrument.
The four-arrow keys + OK is the keyboard of the instrument.
An SD-Card device to store all the survey results in ASCII-coded files. After the survey, the card can then
be transported to a PC station for post-processing, plotting and permanent storage.
An RS-232 interface to connect a PC for survey results uploading and system parameter set-up.
A second RS-232 interface to connect an optional GPS device and captures its NMEA-formatted data
stream.
A Buzzer is used for aural feed-back (key press, alarm)
End of Document

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