2011 Eighth IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Sensor Systems

Underwater Communications in Wireless Sensor Networks using WLAN at 2.4 GHz
Sandra Sendra1, Jose V. Lamparero2, Jaime Lloret3 and Miguel Ardid4
Instituto de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de zonas Costeras - Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain sansenco@posgrado.upv.es1, josevi@lamparero.es2, jlloret@dcom.upv.es3, mardid@fis.upv.es4

Abstract— In order to have long distance underwater wireless communications, low frequencies must be used. But the main problem when using low frequencies is the lack of bandwidth to transmit high data rate. Sometimes wireless sensors must be placed quite close for taking more accurate measurements from the water, so higher frequency bands could be used in special cases. In this paper we measure the maximum coverage distance of underwater wireless sensors when they are placed at about 15 cm underneath the water surface, without having wireless coverage from the air side. Then, we measured the number of lost packets and round trip time for 1, 2, 5.5 and 11 Mbps at different frequencies for different distances. Keywords- Underwater Wireless transmission; 2,4GHz; High Data Rate Sensor; Underwater

I.

INTRODUCTION

Nowadays there is a huge research activity in underwater communications and underwater sensors networks. The main research line is based on increasing the distance and bandwidth, attempting to reduce the underwater devices power consumption to minimal values [1]. However, problems with the propagation are present as a result of the transmission characteristics of the water environment. The study of the underwater communication is mainly centered in optical, electromagnetic, acoustic and ultrasonic methods. Each one has particular features and some benefits and drawbacks [2]. Currently, the most used one is the acoustic communication method, since it is able to reach large distances, over 20 km [3]. Although acoustic communication is a proven technology, it presents some drawbacks, as the low bandwidth (0 b/s to 20kb/s), which is limited by some factors, like the low carrier’s frequency, the strong reflections and attenuation when work is done near the surface, as well as the poor performance in shadow water, the sensitivity to varying environmental characteristics, and the salinity or turbidity in seawater. When higher bandwidth is needed, we must resort to radio frequency (RF) methods, which are able to reach communication data rates until 100 Mb/s in a very short distance, apart from presenting a great immunity to environment characteristics, but nevertheless they may be affected by Electromagnetic Interference. For larger bandwidths than 100 Mb/s, an underwater optical communication, that reaches ranks up to gigabits per second, must be considered, but it has distance limitations, and it needs to fine tune alignment and unobstructed path, apart from being sensitive to turbidity and particles. Optical communications are being used in coastal areas, where the

reflections due to shallow depth make acoustic methods further reduce the speed and lose the characteristic of a longdistance communication produced by reflections [4]. In acoustic and ultrasonic communication researchers usually work on varying the type of modulation and communication protocol, in order to minimize the effects of reflections and on taking as much bandwidth as possible. This paper addresses the tests performed at different frequencies and modulations in order to check various parameters such as minimum depth, distance between devices and signal transmission characteristics. The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section 2 shows some works about underwater wireless transmission. Section 3 summarizes the main aspects to be considered in underwater transmission and a small review of the modulations that are used in the test bench. The deployed sensor node and its consumption characteristics are shown in section 4. Section 5 explains the strategies used to obtain the results. The performance results are shown in Section 6. Finally, Section 7 shows the conclusion and future work. II. RELATED WORK

High frequency underwater communication is poorly documented because of the fact that most of the works are designed for lower frequencies to release a largest communication distance, preventing the power losses that are generated in high frequencies. Chakraborty et al. presented a detailed description of the relationship between propagation characteristics of electromagnetic waves [5]. They studied the skin depth, total path loss and frequency for different values of distance and conductivity of the water medium for the purpose of underwater communication. They confirmed that electromagnetic wave propagation is characterized mainly by four parameters; permeability, permittivity, conductivity and volume charge density. In RF communications, researchers work with very Low Frequency (VLF), decreasing the frequency for a more effective range of communication. Concretely, some researchers of Swansea Metropolitan University, UK [6] worked with simulations based on 3 KHz frequency and distances between nodes of 40 meters. Frater et al. [7] made a comparison of the spread between RF and acoustic communication, even to establish the maximum available distances with RF. They determined the maximum ranges for the frequencies, obtaining approximately 6 m at 100 kHz, 16 m at 10 kHz, and 22 m at 1 kHz. They concluded that RF communication offer higher performance than acoustic communication in certain ranges.
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978-0-7695-4469-4/11 $26.00 © 2011 IEEE DOI 10.1109/MASS.2011.106

Anguita et al. dismissed the RF method for underwater communication because it is strongly attenuated, taking as invalid the 2.4GHz frequency [8]. However electromagnetic signals offer higher throughputs than acoustic signals by up to an order of magnitude. For example, Nowsheen et al. [9] [10], have developed an FPGA-based modem, using frequencies in the range of 100 kHz to 1 MHz and BPSK modulation, with shipments of data packets with a duration of 1 ms with a wait time of 20ms. It is an appropriate interval to avoid the effects of reflections in the tank. III. PROPAGATION AND MODULATION THEORY

covered by small tiles. The pool ranges from 1.5 m to 1.80 m deep. We chose this structure in order to avoid any type of reflection in the walls. Measurements have been taken in fresh water. The water temperature at was 27 ° C. In addition, the pH value is 7.2 and the amount of chlorine and bromine is 0.3mg / l. B. Hardware used in the test bench We have used different devices to perform this test bench. On the one hand, we used an underwater wireless sensor node that has a MatchPort integrate [11] as a central processing unit and transmitting device. The device allows us to connect 2 sensors with RS-232, TTL or RS-485 interfaces, which are one of the most common interfaces in underwater sensors. It is also possible to use dedicated pins (GPIO) to control other types of sensors, which their operation is based on an ON/OFF system. The antenna used has a gain of 2 dBi. The frequency range, at which this device can work, is from 2.412 GHz to 2.472 GHz. These values correspond to the spectrum used by devices that operate under the IEEE 802.11 standard. Figure 1 shows the model in its first phase of development to perform our tests. Because one of the requirements to be met by a sensor node is that its consumption is enticed to prolong the network lifetime, we have measured its consumption. The device is powered at 3.3 V, with average power consumption in active mode of 460 mW. When transmitting or receiving data, the power consumption increases to 594 mW, while the device consumes around the 1.1 W in its initialization phase, which lasts approximately 10 seconds. The behavior of the device was been monitored for 2.5 minutes, since the device is started. Later it sends broadcasts every 30 seconds. Figure 2 shows the behavior graphically and shows the average consumption of the device. In order to power the device with batteries, we used a LDO voltage regulator and a small capacitor 98AGL52B [12] to filter the output voltage and prevent voltage fluctuations. C. Sensor node preparation In order to perform the tests, we placed the device in a sealed box to make it resistant to water and atmospheric pressure variation. It also allows the device to transmit to the outside of the sealed container and ensures communication with other devices in the network. To maintain upright position of the device, we estimated the necessary ballast as the container volume in liters and an additional weight equal to the half value of the calculated volume. We also ensured that the relative position of the antenna from the rest of the circuit is 90° in order to permit the proper issuance of wireless signals. V. PREPARATION AND MEASUREMENT STRATEGIES

Freshwater is a medium that has low loss. The propagation speed c of the signals can be expressed by the following approximation (see equation 1) [2]. (1) Where represents the dielectric permittivity and refers to the magnetic permeability of the medium (in this case water). Its value has no significant changes for most nonmagnetic medium. We should also consider the absorption coefficient for the propagation of EM in freshwater, which can be approximated by expression 2 [2]: (2) Where is the electrical conductivity, is the medium permittivity and the magnetic permittivity of the medium. On the other hand, different modulations can be used depending on the system application. The Phase Shift Keying modulation (PSK) is a form of angular modulation where the carrier phase varies between some discrete values. BPSK and QPSK modulations are optimal from the viewpoint of error protection. BPSK modulation is used for low-cost transmitters that do not require high speeds. The Complementary Code Keying modulation (CCK) allows encoding multiple bits of data directly on a single chip using 64-bit eight sequences. Therefore, the CCK method can achieve a maximum speed of 5.5 Mbps by encoding 4 bits at a time or up to 11 Mbps by encoding 8 bits of data. Wireless Local Area Networks, using IEEE 802.11b/g standard, allow a variety of PSK modulations, depending on the data rate. It could be 1 Mbps using BPSK. QPSK is used for 2Mbps. CCK is used for 5.5 Mbps and 11Mbps. IV. SCENARIO DESCRIPTION

In this section, we describe the scenario used to take the measurements and the hardware and software used to perform our test. A. Place of measurement In order to do the measures, we have sought a wide swimming pool with an area of 32 m2, with 8 m length and 4 m width. This swimming pool is made with bricks and it is

In this section we describe the techniques used to make the measurements. The initial strategies used to ensure the measurement accuracy are also explained. A. Minimum depth. First we must ensure that the measurements are valid and the signal is not spread out of the water.

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Power consumption (W) 1,4 1,2 1

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Figure 1. Underwater wireless sensor node.

Figure 2. Underwater wireless sensor node consumption.
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Figure 4. Ping delay at 15, 15.5 and 16 cm for 1Mbps at 2.412 GHz. c

The first step is to determine the minimum depth to which we should have the network. So, we introduced a Dlink DWL-2100AP access point into wat with a 2 dBi ter gain antenna. We used a laptop to monitor t network from the out of the water. It allowed us to know at w what distance we lose connection from the air side. We obta ained a minimum depth of 15cm, regardless the antenna lengt We placed the th. antenna with its radiation pattern to down. B. Measurement strategies placed the sensor In order to take the measurements, we p node and the antenna of an USB wireless ca connected to ard, a laptop, under the water. The gain of this an ntenna was 2 dBi. We performed different tests at 2.4 GHs freq quency band with different modulations and transfer rates, wh we varied the hile distance between the antennas. These te ests allow us to measure the performance of our node and characterize its d behavior in terms of number of lost packets round trip time, s, the best modulation for underwater transm mission, and the maximum data transfer rates that can be o obtained for each modulation. Figure 3 shows the test bench. VI.
LTS PERFORMANCE RESUL

measured BPSK for data transfer ra of 1 Mbps, QPSK for ates 2 Mbps and CCK modulations for 5.5 Mbps and 11 Mbps. A. Measurements at 2.412 GHz d Figure 4 shows the ping round trip time (RTT) for 1 Mbps. At 15 cm the average value is around 16 ms, v presenting a peak of 894 ms in the 55th sample. At 15.5 cm, there is an average value of 14 ms (in samples received) and ( a peak of 42 ms. At 16 cm, we did not receive packets. n Figure 5 shows the ping RTT for 2 Mbps. As we can see, at 15 cm there is an average value of 13 ms, having a peak of 629 ms in the 28th sample. At 15.5 cm, the system presents an average value of 26 ms (in samp received) and a peak ples of 74 ms. At 16 cm, there are few samples received, with w RTTs around 21 ms. Figure 6 shows the ping RTT for 5.5Mbps. At 15 cm there a peak of 768 ms in the 58th sa ample. Its average value is around 17 ms. At 15.5 cm, the sys stem presents an average value of 19 ms and a peak value of 385 ms. At 16 cm, there f are a few samples received, with RT around 23 ms. TTs Figure 7 shows the ping RTT fo 11 Mbps. At 15cm the or system has a peak value of 458 ms in the 3rd sample, while s there is an average value of 11 ms. At 15.5 cm, the system presents an average value of 48 ms and a peak of 598 ms. At 16cm, the samples received have a mean value of 38 ms. m Figure 8 shows the comparison of number of packets delivered when the sensor is transm mitting at 2.412 GHz. We can see that the best behavior is sh hown at 11Mbps transfer rate, since its growth is much slowe than the rest. The worst er is shown for 5.5 Mbps data bit rates. . Figure 9 shows the average ping RTT comparison when g the sensor is transmitting at 2.412 GHz. We see that the data G bit rate with lower delay is 11Mbps while the worst case is s, shown for 1 and 2 Mbps.

This section shows the obtained results. Tests have been performed at 2.412 GHz, 2.437 GHz and 2.472 GHz. We analyze the variation of the ping round tr time between rip both devices, depending on the distanc between the ce antennas. We also measured the amount of lost packets and f the network behavior, depending on the type of modulation. e The maximum data rate as a function o the modulation of has been considered. Measurements have been gathered e during 3 minutes and a packet is considered wrong when round trip time is equal to or greater than 3 seconds. We n

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Figure 13. Ping delay at 15, 15.5 and 16 cm for 11Mbps at 2.437 GHz
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Figure 14. Received packets at 2.437 GHz
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Figure 16. Ping delay at 15, 15.5 and 16 cm for 1Mbps at 2.472 GHz

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Figure 14 shows the comparison of the number of packets delivered when the system is transmitting at 2.437 GHz. We see that the best behavior is shown at 1 Mbps transfer rates. The worst one is shown for rates of 11Mbps. Figure 15 shows the comparison of the average RTTs when the system is transmitting at 2.437 GHz. We can see that the data rate have lower delays for 1 and 2 Mbps, while the worst case is shown for 5.5 Mbps. C. Measurements at 2.472 GHz Figure 16 shows the RTT value for 1 Mbps. At 15 cm the average RTT is 24 ms. At 15.5 cm, there is a peak of 866 ms, with an average RTT of 45 ms. While at 16 cm, the few received samples have an average value of 58 ms. Figure 17 shows the RTT for 2 Mbps. At 15 cm, the average value is 16 ms. At 15.5 cm, the system presents several peaks close to 20 ms. At 16 cm, there were 2 samples with values close to 26 ms. Figure 18 shows the RTT for 5.5 Mbps. There is 11 ms of average for a distance of 15 cm. At 15.5 cm, the average value is 18 ms. At 16cm, there were 2 samples with values close to 27 ms. Figure 19 shows the RTT for 11 Mbps. At 15cm the system has a peak of 574 ms. The RTT average value is 14 ms. At 15.5 cm, the average value is around 20 ms. At 16 cm, the received samples have an average value of 29 ms. Figure 20 shows the comparison of the number of received packets when the system transmits at 2.472 GHz. Unlike the previous case, now good values for 11 Mbps are registered. The worst performance is obtained for 2 Mbps. Figure 21 shows the RTT comparison when the system transmits at 2.472 GHz. In this case, the behavior is the same for all three cases.

Figure 17. Ping delay at 15, 15.5 and 16 cm for 2Mbps at 2.472 GHz.

B. Measurements at 2.437 GHz Figure 10 shows ping RTT for 1Mbps. As we can see, at 15 cm there is an average RTT of 17 ms, presenting a peak of 1s in the 30th sample. At 15.5 cm, there is a peak of 308 ms at the 50th sample and there is an average value of 9 ms (in received samples). At 16 cm, very few packets are received. They have an average RTT close to 13 ms. Figure 11 shows the ping round trip time for 2 Mbps. At a distance of 15cm the average value is about 7 ms. At 15.5 cm the system presents several peaks close to 50 ms. At 16 cm we observed an average around 16 ms. Figure 12 shows the RTT for 5.5 Mbps. At a distance of 15 cm, its average is 11 ms. At 15.5 cm the system has a peak of 495 ms, with an average value of 23 ms. At 16 cm, there is not any packet registered Figure 13 shows the RTT value for 11 Mbps. At 15 cm the system presents an average value of 5 ms. At 15.5 cm, the average is 10 ms. At 16 cm, there are few packets received. The average value of the received packets is 10 ms.

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Figure 18. Ping delay at 15, 15.5 and 16 cm for 5.5Mbps at 2.472 GHz.
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Figure 19. Ping delay at 15, 15.5 and 16 cm for 11Mbps at 2.472 GHz.
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Figure 21. Round trip time at 2.472 GHz. M. Garcia, S. Sendra, M. Atenas, and J. Lloret, "Underwater Wireless Ad-hoc Networks: a Survey". Book: Mobile Ad hoc Networks: Current Status and Future Trends, CRC Press. Pp. 379-411. 2011. [3] X. Che, I. Wells, G. Dickers, P. Kear, and X. Gong, “Re-Evaluation of RF Electromagnetic Communication in Underwater Sensor Networks”. IEEE Communications Magazine, Dec. 2010, Vol. 48, Issue 12, pp 143-151. [4] J.H. Smart, “Underwater optical communications systems part 1: Variability of water optical parameters”. Military Communications Conference, 2005. (MILCOM 2005) Oct. 2005, pp. 1140–1146. [5] U. Chakraborty, T. Tewary and R.P. Chatterjee, “Exploiting the LossFrequency Relationship using RF Communication in Underwater Communication Networks”. 4th Int.l Conf. on Computers and Devices for Communication (CODEC 2009), Dec. 2009, pp. 1-4. [6] I. Wells, A. Davies, X. Che, P. Kear, G. Dickers, X. Gong and M. Rhodes, “Node Pattern Simulation of an Undersea Sensor NEtwork using RF Electromagnetic Communications”. Ultra Modern Telecommunications & Workshops, Oct. 2009, pp 1-4. [7] M.R.Frater, M.J.Ryan, and R.M.Dunbar. Electromagnetic Communications within Swarms of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. In Proc. ACM WUWNet 2006, pages 64–70. [8] D. Anguita, D. Brizzolara and G. Parodi “Optical Communication for Underwater Wireless Sensor Networks: a VHDL-implementation of a Physical Layer 802.15.4 Compatible”, IEEE OCEANS 2009 – Europe, May. 2009, pp. 1-2. [9] N. Nowsheen, C. Benson and M. Frater, “A High Data-Rate, Software-Defined Underwater Acoustic Modem”, IEEE OCEANS 2010, Sept. 2010, pp 1-5. [10] N. Nowsheen, C. Benson and M. Frater, “Design of a high frequency FPGA acoustic modem for underwater communication”, IEEE OCEANS 2010 – Sydney, May. 2010, pp. 1-6. [11] MatchPort features. In Lantroinix web site. Available at: http://www.lantronix.com/device-networking/embedded-deviceservers/matchport.html [Last access: 7/15/11] [12] L52B LDO datasheet. In Farnell distributor web site. Available at: http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/78785.pdf [Last access: 7/15/11] [2]

As we have seen in the above pictures, when we increase the frequency, fewer packets are received. CCK modulation has been the most affected modulation. It is used for 5.5 and 11 Mbps data transfer rates. BPSK modulation, which is used for 1 Mbps data rates, is fairly stable in all tests. Regarding to the RTT, there is a slight tendency to unify the values of the three modulations. VII. CONCLUSION In this paper we measured the transmission characteristics of an underwater wireless sensor node. We performed several tests at different frequencies and modulations to check several parameters such as minimum depth, distance between devices and signal transmission characteristics. As we have seen, it seems that BPSK modulation has greater stability than the other ones, although when we increase the frequency the ping delay increases. However, despite of this fact, the amount of received packets is still better than in other cases. BPSK may be better compared to other modulations because this modulation uses only 2 symbols (so it has lower error probability). Our proposed system is developed to monitor the water surface with enough accuracy. It can occur in the following cases: in ponds and rivers where some poisonous plants may contaminate the water, in swamps where the surface water quality is different depending on the season and affects to the organic material of the water, and in water close to industrial plants where there could be a chemical escape. REFERENCES
[1] I. F. Akyildiz, D. Pompili and T. Melodia, “Challenges for efficient communication in underwater acoustic sensor networks”. ACM Sigbed Review, vol. 1, no. 2, Jul. 2004.

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