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Remote Communication with a Train via GPS

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Remote Communication with a Train via GPS
Remote Communication with a Train via GPS
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(Archive News Story - Products mentioned in this Archive News Story may or may not be available from the manufacturer.)

CAS DataLoggers
12628 Chillicothe Rd., Unit J
Chesterland, OH, 44026

Press release date: June 27, 2012

CHESTERLAND OH - CAS DataLoggers recently supplied the datalogging solution for a major sugar cane grower using a wireless radio link to communicate with a sugar train running on an extensive rail network around the plant. Over time the customer had experienced breakdowns in their communications links which led to expensive inefficiencies in sugar cane collection and transportation. After experiencing these issues they had decided to undertake a review their radio system. This review included carrying out a radio survey of the rail system from the sugar train to determine the optimal placement of signal repeater towers to establish more reliable radio communications. A long-term monitoring solution compatible with GPS and able to connect to a high number of sensors was required so that personnel could identify and eliminated any radio 'black-spots'.

The customer installed a dataTaker DT85 Intelligent Data Logger adjacent to the train's conductor seat, connecting the logger to a Garmin eTREX Summit Global Positioning System and a signal strength meter. Capable of measuring and logging voltage, current and resistance sources in addition to digital signals, the dataTaker featured analog and digital channels, high-speed counter inputs, phase encoder inputs and programmable serial sensor channels allowing the logger to easily connect to most sensors and data measurement sources. Temperature, voltage, current, 4-20mA loops, resistance, bridges, strain gauges, frequency, digital, serial and calculated measurements can all be scaled, logged and returned in engineering units or within statistical reporting. Users could group sampling, logging, alarm and control tasks within schedules to suit their requirements. GPS was supported via 2 serial sensor ports (RS232 or RS422/485). The datataker also included USB memory stick support for easy data and program transfer.

Personnel also installed UHF and mid-band transmitters and rigged the train with aerials and radios. The dataTaker monitored and recorded the signal strength from the radios recording RF dead spots. The Garmin GPS was connected to the DT85 serial sensor port, which captured the current position of the train and stored this data in parallel with the radio signal strength measurements. During the project period, adverse weather conditions were experienced which would further highlight the areas where radio communications were poor.

The data was later unloaded from the DT85 and overlaid on a map of the area, which quickly revealed the locations of poor communication. From this data, optimal placement of signal repeater towers was determined to provide more reliable radio data communications.

Following the project, the new signal repeater tower placements significantly improved the communications link to the trains, which performed more reliably than before and increased productivity and profitability. The DT85 was chosen due to its cost-effectiveness, its durable design, the large number of analog inputs for sensors and its compatibility with almost any sensor. The data logger also had a large data storage capacity, and data accessibility was simplified through quick USB collection.

For more information on the dataTaker DT85 Intelligent Universal Input Data Logger, other dataloggers in the highly successful dataTaker line, or to find the ideal solution for your application-specific needs, contact a CAS Data Logger Applications Specialist at (800) 956-4437 or visit the website at

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