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MAPUA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AT LAGUNA

Academic Year 2014 – 2015

INSTANTANEOUS LINEAR MEASURING DEVICE
USING RADIO FREQUENCY

Jan Rafael D. Bernabe
Joseph Floyd E. Calip
Jerold RJ D. Oidem

Thesis Adviser: Engr. Elvis Abellera

Submitted to the Faculty of Malayan Colleges Laguna
in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering

The thesis attached hereto, entitled “INSTANTANEOUS LINEAR MEASURING
DEVICE USING RADIO FREQUENCY”, prepared and submitted by Jan Rafael D.
Bernabe, Joseph Floyd E. Calip, Jerold RJ D. Oidem in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering is hereby
accepted.

Signature Over Printed Name
Panel Chair

Signature Over Printed Name
Panel Member

______________________

______________________

Date Signed

Date Signed

Signature Over Printed Name
Adviser
______________________

Date Signed

Signature Over Printed Name
Program Chair, ECE
______________________

Date Signed

ENGR. MARIBEL G. SONGSONG
Dean, Mapua Institute of Technology at Laguna
______________________

Date Signed

Copyright

“The author and the adviser authorize consultation and partial reproduction of this thesis
for personal use. Any other reproduction or use is subject to copyright protection. Citation
should clearly mention the reference of this work.”

Malayan Colleges Laguna, March 2014

The Adviser

The Authors:

Engr. Elvis Abellera

Jan Rafael D. Bernabe
Joseph Floyd E. Calip
Jerold RJ D. Oidem

i
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Abstract
The use of radio waves makes it possible to measure distance without the target
being in sight. This means, you can measure distances through different obstructions such
as huge rocks, walls, houses, and even whole buildings. There are many wireless
rangefinders that are available, which are working with sound waves or lasers. One
disadvantage of distance measurement with laser rangefinder is that you must center up the
beam to the receiver and ensure that there are no obstacles along the laser beam which is
also a problem for sound waves based wireless rangefinder. Another problem is if the
object/person you want to locate is in non-GPS covered areas. This paper aims to propose a
low cost, low power but accurate wireless linear distance measuring device that can
compensate for the disadvantages of the available wireless rangefinders. With this
proposed device, we can easily measure the exact distance/location of the target even if
there are obstructions along or if the target is in a non-GPS area.

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Introduction
Background of the Study
Wireless networks have become a part of daily life, and the addition of location
awareness can change the application landscape. Accurate and precise measurement should
be put in perspective when measuring a distance or finding a location, combing the concept
of being precise or accurate measurement and wireless technology today is a new
innovation when measuring a distance. Wireless distance measurement is currently being
engaged in a variety of applications covering from medical to military and from home to
industry. Furthermore it is the basis for Real Time Locating Systems and related services
especially required in non GPS covered areas (indoor, mining, parking garages). Creating a
device which can wirelessly measure distances with the use of RF signals can be used in
this application which requires a low-cost and efficient distance measuring devices.
Radio frequency (RF) is used in many products that most people use as part of our
daily life. Frequencies are used mostly on communications around us. Modern
technology has produced quite a wide variety of frequencies since the discovery and
invention of the telephone, electricity, radio and television. Radio frequency (RF)
received signal strength (RSS) measurements are commonly used to estimate range, but
the accuracy of this technique is poor even in the best conditions. The primary alternative
is the use of ultra-wideband (UWB) RF ranging, and good ranging performance.
This paper presents a radio frequency (RF) distance measurement systems
composed of two transmitter and receiver devices that will communicate to each other.
The first device is composed of frequency controller (Arduino Uno), counter, transmitter,
receiver, and LED display, and the second device is composed of frequency controller
(Arduino Uno), transmitter and receiver in which they are both powered by 9V battery.
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Determining device location has two phases in which the first phase involves measuring a
relationship between nodes (e.g., distance), and the second phase uses these relationship
to estimate location. The process of a single measurement will start once the first device
transmits an ultra-high frequency (UHF), then the counter will start also exactly as the
transmitter emits the signal. The transmitted signal will be received by the second
receiver, and immediately will start to transmit a new frequency. The new transmitted
frequency is then received by the first device which will then stop the counter. Using the
data gathered in the first phase which is the time-of-arrival between the two devices, the
driver will now calculate the distance using a given formula and display it in the LED
display.
The main goal of this study is to provide a cost effective wireless distance
measurement solution based on the transmitter and receiver for a huge range of
applications including asset tracking, logistics, safety and security, home & building
automation, collision avoidance, life stock management, etc. Specifically, the proposed
design aimed to develop a wireless distance measuring device using radio frequency that
will measure distance even though there are a lot of obstruction present between the two
points that is being measured which cannot be achieved by existing wireless distance
measuring devices such as using laser and ultrasonic techniques and also develop an
alternative tracking device that will help people such as workers/builders to easily
identify their position especially in the non GPS covered areas.
Statement of the Problems
This paper aimed to answer the following problems:

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How to create a low-cost measuring device that will help builders/workers


to measure distance?
How to create a device that will help worker to determine the position?
How to measure distance with/without obstruction using a radio
frequency?

Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to create a device which can measure distance
with or without obstruction between the line of sight of the two devices which is compose
of transmitter and receiver.
Specific Objectives:
1.) To create a low-cost but accurate and efficient measuring device.
2.) To measure distance with/without obstruction by the use of radio frequency.
3.) To create a device that will help people such as workers/builders to accurately
measure their position in non GPS covered areas.

Scope and Limitation of the Study
In general, the focus of this study is directed towards creating a low cost and
efficient measuring device with the use of Radio Frequency Signals only. This is to show
the difference between a normal measuring device which can’t measure distance
whenever there is an obstruction to its path and a wireless device which can measure with
or without any obstruction.
In this proposed device, a certain minimum distance should be applied. This is to
make sure that whenever there is an obstruction in the path between the two devices
which contains transmitter and receiver modules. The transmitted signal will still be
received by the other receiver.

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Significance of the Study
Socio-economic Significance. In this study, the proposed device will inspire other
students to develop an effective, low-cost and efficient device which can be used as
alternative to existing measuring devices.
Technological Significance. The proposed device will introduce the use of RF
signals as a medium to wirelessly measure distances with or without obstructions in the
path of the devices.
Future Researches. This will benefit researchers who wish to have similar
studies in creating the same device as they can get background information from the
result of this study which will serve as template to modify their research.

Review of Related Literature

Radio Frequency
A Radio Frequency is a rate of oscillation in the range of around 3 kHz to
300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency of radio waves, and the alternating currents
which carry radio signals. A term that refers to alternating current (AC) having
characteristics such that, if the current is input to an antenna, an electromagnetic (EM)
field is generated suitable for wireless broadcasting and/or communications. These
frequencies cover a significant portion of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum,

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extending from kilohertz (kHz) the lowest allocated wireless communications frequency
to thousands of gigahertz (GHz).
When an RF current is supplied to an antenna, it gives rise to an electromagnetic
field that propagates through space. This field is sometimes called an RF field; in less
technical terminology it is a "radio wave." Any RF field has a wavelength that is
inversely proportional to the frequency.
The frequency of an RF signal is inversely proportional to the wavelength of the
EM field to which it corresponds. At 9 kHz, the free-space wavelength is approximately
33 kilometers (km) or 21 miles (mi). At the highest radio frequencies, the EM
wavelengths measure approximately one millimeter (1 mm). As the frequency is
increased beyond that of the RF spectrum, EM energy takes the form of infrared (IR),
visible, ultraviolet (UV), X rays, and gamma rays (Rouse).

Arduino
Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the
physical world than your desktop computer. It is an open-source physical computing
platform based on a microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing
software for the board (arduino.cc). Arduino can be used to make the application of
objects that can be interactive. C or C++ programming language can be used to write
programs for Arduino. Arduino simplifies the process of working with microcontrollers,
but it offers some advantage: Inexpensive, Cross-platform, Simple programming
environment, Open source and extensible software, and Open source and extensible
hardware (arduino.cc).

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Microcontroller
A Microcontroller is a small computer on a single integrated circuit containing a
processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals. It already contains
all components which allow it to operate stand alone, and has been designed in particular
for monitoring and/or control tasks. In consequence, in addition to the processor, it
includes memory, various interface controllers, one or more timers, an interrupt
controller, and lastly, general purpose I/O pins which allow it to directly interface to its
environment. Microcontrollers also include bit operations which allow you to change one
bit within a byte without touching the other bits (Gridling and Weiss, 2007)

In desktop computers, microcontrollers can be found inside keyboards, modems,
printers, and other peripherals. In test equipment, microcontrollers make it easy to add
features such as the ability to store measurements, to create and store user routines, and to
13display messages and waveforms. Consumer products that use microcontrollers include
cameras, video recorders, compact-disk players (Axelson, 1997).

Antenna
Antenna is the transitional structure between free-space and a guiding device. The
guiding device or transmission line may take the form of a coaxial line or a hollow pipe
(waveguide), and it is used to transport electromagnetic energy from the transmitting
source to the antenna or from the antenna to the receiver. In transmission, a radio
transmitter supplies an electric current oscillating at radio frequency (i.e. a high

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frequency alternating current (AC)) to the antenna's terminals, and the antenna radiates
the energy from the current as electromagnetic waves (radio waves). In reception, an
antenna intercepts some of the power of an electromagnetic wave in order to produce a
tiny voltage at its terminals, that is applied to a receiver to be amplified (Balanis, 2005)

Crystal Oscillator
Crystal is a circuit element commonly used in the clock, full name is called the
crystal oscillator, crystal oscillator in the microcontroller the role of the system is very
large, is a combination of MCU's internal circuitry, resulting in the need microcontroller
clock frequency, single-chip implementation of all directives are built on this basis, the
crystal clock frequency to provide higher speed and that the sooner SCM.

Crystal with a can into electrical energy and mechanical energy between the crystal in the
resonant mode of operation in order to provide stable and accurate single frequency
oscillation. In normal working conditions, the ordinary crystal oscillator frequency
absolute accuracy of up to 50 millionths. High-level precision. Some crystal by the
applied voltage can also be adjusted within a certain range of frequencies, known as
voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO).

Crystal's role is to provide the basic system clock signal. Usually a system share a single
crystal, easy to synchronize the various parts. Some of the fundamental frequency
communication systems and RF using a different crystal and electronic means to adjust
the frequency to keep pace.

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Crystal is usually used in conjunction with the phase-locked loop circuit to provide the
required system clock frequency. If different sub-systems need a different clock signal
frequencies can be used with the same crystal connected to a different phase-locked loop
to provide (Shenzhen, 2005)

Transmitter Module
An RF transmitter module is a small PCB sub-assembly capable of transmitting a
radio wave and modulating that wave to carry data. Transmitter modules are usually
implemented alongside a micro controller which will provide data to the module which
can be transmitted. RF Transmitters are usually subject to Regulatory Requirements
which dictate the maximum allowable Transmitter power output, Harmonics, and band
edge requirements (Egan, 2003).

Receiver Module.
An RF Receiver module receives the modulated RF signal, and demodulates it.
There are two types of RF receiver modules: superheterodyne receivers and superregenerative receivers. Super-regenerative modules are usually low cost and low power
designs using a series of amplifiers to extract modulated data from a carrier wave. Superregenerative modules are generally imprecise as their frequency of operation varies
considerably

with

temperature

and

power

supply

voltage.[citation

needed]

Superheterodyne receivers have a performance advantage over super-regenerative; they
offer increased accuracy and stability over a large voltage and temperature range. This

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stability comes from a fixed crystal design which in turn leads to a comparatively more
expensive product (Egan, 2003).

According to Alisiry, Tahayama, Thanh and sang-il (2011), various method of
inter-node range measurement has been used in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) for
node range-based localization. Radio frequency (RF) based time-of-flight system
promised an accurate result. However, it is only effective for long distance uses instead of
it deploy high cost hardware time synchronization; therefore, it is not so feasible to be
implemented in WSNs. To challenge the difficulties and reduce the cost of using RF for
short ranges measurement, a simpler hardware based range measurement technique rely
on Vernier effect has been proposed. Three experimental nodes have been fabricated to
realize the method. Preliminary test of inter-node range measurement show a fairly
accurate relation between inter-node range of distance and output sensing pattern.
Further, a simple localization using the real experimental data shows the feasibility of
using this method for real WSNs cases.

Lanzisera, Lin and Pister (2006) stated that measuring the radio frequency time of
flight (RFTOF) of a message traveling from one node to another can provide range
information. RF TOF measurements are challenging because of the high signal speed,
multipath (MP) propagation, and low tolerance for clock synchronization error. The
primary advantages of RF TOF measurements are small hardware overhead, good wall
penetration, and the potential for meter level location accuracy. RF time of flight (TOF)
ranging is an attractive option for wireless sensor networks (WSN). An RF TOF system
can require little hardware overhead and achieve meter level accuracy in difficult
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environments with the same transceiver used for data communication and simple signal
processing blocks. RF TOF ranging can occur in short bursts and in a frequency hopped
fashion thereby reducing the chance of interference and unwanted detection. Errors in RF
TOF ranging measurements are caused primarily by interference from other signals,
noise, or MP propagation. Other factors can systematically corrupt ranging accuracy such
as clock offset and clock drift.

According to Brown, Reeve, Mazomenos and White (2013), locating and tracking
objects of interest is considered to be a pivotal functionality for a number of application
domains. WSNs are considered to be a technology able to provide innovative solutions
for locationing and tracking applications. They offer the possibility of employing a large
number of observers, tasked with monitoring the same phenomena, an approach that
enables decentralized sensing, distributed computing and collaborative signal processing.
An abundant amount of information is accumulated from the network with high spatial
and temporal resolution. For locationing and tracking, this is of particular interest,
facilitating the development of more robust, flexible, and cost-effective tracking systems.
The basic concept for target tracking with WSNs is to deploy a number of cooperative
embedded nodes to monitor a specific region of interest. Whenever a target is present, the
nodes interact with the target and collect useful information for the tracking operation.
Generally, in tracking systems, the target’s dynamics are inferred by processing specific
information, associated with the target’s kinematic variables (position, velocity, direction
of movement)

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According to Ahmed and Heidari-Bateni (2006), Two-way ranging (TWR) based
on time-of-arrival (TOA) provides a viable ranging solution that does not necessitate
clock synchronization among the devices in an ad-hoc network. However, the accuracy of
TOA-based solutions suffers from the finite sampling clock-frequency resolution.
Ranging from multiple reference devices enables positioning. Computing the
2D/3D position of a target wireless device relative to a coordinate system commonly
known to a set of reference devices is called positioning. Local positioning systems
(LPS), on the other hand, provide indoor positioning using ad-hoc wireless sensor
network. To provide different emerging applications of location awareness in different
fields such as public safety, smart home systems, health care, intelligent vehicle highway
systems, the location of such sensors has to be accurate and automatically configurable.

Methodology

Research is an important factor in designing a prototype because it gives background
information on the prototype to be developed. It is important to have background
information on the system as to how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, and the
principles applied on the design. Sometimes, in this case, there are existing inventions
similar to the prototype being developed that needed only enhancement to satisfy the
proposed design. For further understanding of the design, refer to Figure 1 below.

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Block Diagram

Figure 1. Communication between the two device.

System Design
The system consist of hardware and software design. The hardware part
includes two arduino uno, two transmitters (MX-FS-03V), two receivers (MX-05V),
crystal oscillator, and 16x2 LCD.
Device 1

Device 2

Design Implementation
Hardware Implementation

Transmitters
1
(MX-FS03V)

Receiver 2
(MX-FS-03V)
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Arduino uno with
crystal-oscillator
(counter)

Arduino Uno
LCD

Receiver 1
(MX-05V)

Transmitter
2 (MX-05V)

Figure 2. System Overview
Figure 2 shows the communication and connection between the two devices.
When the arduino start to run the counter will start to count then the transmitter 1 will
emit a frequency signal which is going to receive by the receiver 2. The receive signal
will undergo to arduino to transmit a new frequency. Like a two way radio transmitting
different frequency. Once the receiver 1 receive the new frequency the counter stop on
counting then measure the time-of-flight when the system start to emit the frequency. The
arduino will calculate the distance using the measured time which has a nanosecond
resolution.
Software Implementation
C++ will provide the codes that will be used to program the arduino. Once the arduino 1
is turned on the program code should start the counter to count exactly as the transmitter
starts to emit the frequency. As the receiver 1 receives the new frequency transmitted by
transmitter 2, the counter should stop, then the time-of-flight will be measured by the
Arduino with the use of crystal oscillator as its clock counter. The formula which is
encoded in the Arduino will then compute for the distance travelled by the signal which
will then be displayed in the LCD.

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List of Materials
Quantity
1
1
1
1
1

Device 1
Transmitters (MX-FS-03V)
Receivers (MX-05V)
Arduino Uno
LCD
Crystal Oscillator

Device 2
Transmitters (MX-FS-03V)
Receivers (MX-05V)
Arduino Uno

Table 1. List of Materials
Table 1 show the list of materials that will be used in the system. The transmitter and
receiver will be used to communicate the two devices to each other. The Arduino Uno is
the controller of the system and also composes of a crystal oscillator that will be use as a
counter. LCD will display the measured distance.

Figure 3: Arduino Uno

Figure 4: 16x2 LCD

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Figure 5: Receivers (MX-05V)

Figure 6: Transmitters (MX-FS-03V)

Figure 7: Crystal Oscillator

System Implementation
Start

Send
the
digital
signal
to
the
microcontroller

Transmitter 1
will transmit
signal to
point 2

Stop the
counter

Gather the data
(measured from
counter)

NO
Point
2
receives
the
transmitte
d signal

YES
Point
2
will
transmit the new
frequency back to
point 1

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Calculate
the
distance using the
gathered
data
using

Display
distance
LCD
Point
1
receives
the
transmitted
signal from
point 2

in

the
the

NO

END

YES
Convert the
analog
signal
to
digital signal

NO

YES
Figure8: System Flowchart

Data Gathering and Testing of Reliability
In testing the accuracy of the measuring device, certain tests will be made this
tests includes testing the device in an open area, testing it with an obstruction and testing
the device in an underground area. In this tests, the researchers will transmit signals from
object 1 to object 2, the test will have 3 different distances for each scenario and 3
different trials for each. The measured results will be tabulated.
Trial 1

Trial 2

Distance 1
Distance 2
Distance 3
Table 2: Testing in Open Area

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Trial 3

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Trial 2

Trial 3

Distance 1
Distance 2
Distance 3
Table 3: Testing with Obstruction

Trial 1
Distance 1
Distance 2
Distance 3
Table 3: Testing Underground

To create a low cost but efficient device the researchers used crystal oscillator as
the clock counter for their microcontroller. This is because the crystal oscillator is cheap
but has the functions that a microcontroller needs. To ensure efficiency the researchers
can do tests with different clock frequencies with the use of different crystal oscillators,
this is possible since crystal oscillator are cheap and has a wide variety of specifications.

To measure the distance with/without obstruction between the two device using
radio frequency, researchers study how clock works and how crystal oscillator can
measure the time of flight from transmitter 1 to receiver 1.Using the formula of distance
such as d = (Δt – C) / 2 then substituting the measured time to Δt in the formula
researchers can get the distance.

For the determination of effectivity and accuracy of the measuring device in the
non-GPS covered areas, the measured values of distances which were recorded and
tabulated during the testing process will be compared with the actual distance value. After
the comparison of the measured value with the actual value, we will be computing for its

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reliability/accuracy. The result of the computation of the reliability/accuracy must be of
high percentage.

References

Alisiry A.H., Takayama, J., Thanh, H.P., and Sang-il, K. (2011). Wireless Sensor
Networks Nodes Localization Based On Inter-Node RF Range Measurement
Using Vernier Effect, Indonesia, Jakarta: Advanced Computer Science and
Information System (ICACSIS), Dec. 2011.
Ahmed, k.I. and Heidari-Bateni, G. (2006). Improving Two-Way Ranging Precision With
Phase-Offset

Measurements.

Global

Telecommunications

Conference.

GLOBECOM '06. IEEE ,San Francisco, CA. pages(s):1 -6, Dec. 2006
Axelson J.(1997), The Microcontroller Idea Book: p1
Balanis, A. (2005). Antenna Theory (3rd edition). New York, USA: John Wiley and
Sons,Inc.
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Egan, W. (2003). Practical Rf System Design. : Wiley-IEEE Press. (1st Edition). (ISBN13: 978-0471200239; ISBN-10: 0471200239)
Lanzisera, S., Lin, D.T., Pister, K.S.J. (2006) RF Time of Flight Ranging for Wireless
Sensor Network Localization, Vienna: Intelligent Solutions in Embedded Systems,
International Workshop, June 2006
Gridling G. and Weiss B.(2007), Introduction to microcontrollers, Versio 1.4: page:7
Rouse,

M.

Radio

Frequency

(RF,

rf,

orr.f.).

TechTarget.

Retrieved

from:

http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/radio-frequency
Mazomenos, E.B.; Reeve, J.S.; White, N.M.; Brown, A.D.(2013) .A Tracking System for
Wireless Embedded Nodes Using Time-of-Flight Ranging. Mobile Computing,
IEEE Transactions on, On page(s): 2373 - 2385 Volume: 12, Issue: 12, Dec. 2013
Shenzhen, J. (2005). Crystal Oscillator Principle and Function. Shenzhen Jinghua
Crystal

Electronics.,Ltd.

http://jinghuajingying.com/en/news_show.asp?id=80

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Retrieved

from

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