Wireless environmental sensor evaluation kit offers energy harvesting benefits

July 10, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
Infinite Power Solutions (IPS) has introduced the IPS-EVAL-EH-02 Wireless Environmental Sensor Energy Harvesting Evaluation Kit which is a new evaluation kit that is a complete wireless sensor reference design.

The kit features a microcontroller and radio module from Microchip Technology and multiple indoor environmental sensors.

System power is provided by a paper-thin yet curiously powerful THINERGY Micro-Energy Cell (MEC), an eco-friendly, all-solid-state battery solution that is continuously recharged using ambient energy harvesting, allowing decades of autonomous, maintenance-free operation. THINERGY MECs enable low cost, hassle-free, permanent power solutions for a variety of low power, small form factor, industrial and consumer wireless sensor applications. The evaluation kit will help designers develop self-powered wireless sensors for smart home and building automation systems.

The IPS-EVAL-EH-02 evaluation kit enables design engineers to develop and evaluate self-sustaining "green" sensor solutions, displacing the use of conventional batteries and supercapacitors that require frequent replacement, especially when exposed to elevated temperature conditions. The kit includes a variety of integrated environmental sensors, such as a Passive Infra-Red (PIR) occupancy sensor, a humidity sensor, an ambient light sensor and a temperature sensor. The sensor system and data transfer is managed by the Microchip PIC24 microcontroller. A MiWi IEEE 802.15.4 compliant radio module, also from Microchip, is used to communicate with the Zena 2.4 GHz Wireless Adaptor included in the evaluation kit. This allows users to develop their own environmental sensor systems and easily interface them with PC-based applications. The kit also features the MAX17710 device from Maxim Integrated Products, the industry's first complete power-management integrated circuit (PMIC) solution dedicated to micro-energy harvesting and battery protection.

The power supply design features a 4 V THINERGY solid-state, rechargeable, micro-energy cell combined with ambient energy harvesting to create an autonomous, self-powered system. The integrated THINERGY MEC201-7S is a near loss-less energy storage cell the size of a postage stamp, yet fully capable of powering the entire sensor system. Self-discharge is so low and insignificant that energy can be reliably stored for many years on a single charge. Recharge is provided from an included solar panel and users can attach their own energy harvesters