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The PermaSense Consortium

Test and Validation Methodology

A vital factor for a successful deployment of sensor nodes is testing of all system aspects in a realistic setup. FlockLab introduces a testbed architecture which allows for detailed monitoring and stimulation of wireless sensor nodes. In particular, time-accurate state extraction and power measurements are provided in a distributed, yet synchronized context. 
For general embedded systems, testing the software and the system’s power consumption relies on expensive lab instruments such as logic analyzers and oscilloscopes. FlockLab brings the functionalities of these tools into a distributed context for detailed testing of a sensor network. This is achieved by pairing a sensor node with dedicated hardware for monitoring and stimulation. Different services such as measuring power consumption and time accurate pin monitoring and setting are provided to the tester. By reducing accuracy of measurements to a sufficient level (e.g., tens of microseconds temporal granularity across nodes), costs are significantly reduced to enable an affordable distributed lab instrument. Hence, in difference to previous testbeds, which only allowed for detailed measurements on individual nodes, numerous nodes can be observed in detail. 

Unlike most testbeds which allow only for one type of wireless sensor node to be connected, FlockLabs flexible hardware interface offers 4 target adapter slots to which arbitrary sensor nodes can be attached. Currently there exist target adapters for Tmotes, TinyNodes, Opal nodes and MEMSIC Iris nodes. 

Further information on FlockLab (incl. registration) can be found on the FlockLab Wiki:

FlockLab observer with four target adaptors
Results obtained from integrated power profiling capabilities match with the results obtained from expensive lab equipment.