The management and implementation of a data terminal project on a global system for mobile communications
Van der Walt, Tjaart
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With the demand for more control over remote systems and access to remote data increasing, there existed the need for a more efficient and low cost means of transmitting this data. Traditionally, small telemetry data packets have been transmitted using unreliable direct radio frequency links, or expensive copper connections or satellite communications. With the international infrastructure of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) networks and it's ever-improving coverage, GSM has become a viable solution as the data channel for data telemetry. With a data terminal, remote monitoring of processes in a factory plant with real-time access to the parameters will be possible. If the per-unit cost is low enough, there would be a use for it in pre-paid energy metering, or even in the control of peak energy demand. The goal of this project was twofold: firstly to apply a structured project management approach to the design cycle of a data terminal, and secondly to design such a terminal in the shortest possible time. It was anticipated that the use of a structured management process would reduce the development time. The data terminal was not designed for a specific customer, but was to be as versatile and flexible as possible. It is understood that only a percentage of all telemetry applications will be able to use such a device, and the trade-off was to balance the cost of the unit (and functionality) with too much complexity. The project was completed in a relatively short time, and the terminal found to be extremely flexible. The unit cost was kept low as compared to other systems. In fact, the complete unit will cost the end user less than just the communication devices in the trunk radio and satellite systems it can replace. The short message service (SMS) as a communication channel has proven itself to be more reliable and of lower cost than other competing technologies. The ongoing expansion and improvement of the GSM networks by their operators, also ensure a stable platform for future use of the data terminal.
- Engineering