Many distributed systems share common sensors and instruments along with a common power line supplying current to the system. A communication technique and circuit has been developed that allows for the simple inclusion of an instrument, sensor, or actuator node within any system containing a common power bus. Wherever power is available, a node can be added, which can then draw power for itself, its associated sensors, and actuators from the power bus all while communicating with other nodes on the power bus.

The technique modulates a DC power bus through capacitive coupling using on-off keying (OOK), and receives and demodulates the signal from the DC power bus through the same capacitive coupling. The circuit acts as serial modem for the physical power line communication. The circuit and technique can be made of commercially available components or included in an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, which allows for the circuit to be included in current designs with additional circuitry or embedded into new designs.

This device and technique moves computational, sensing, and actuation abilities closer to the source, and allows for the networking of multiple similar nodes to each other and to a central processor. This technique also allows for

reconfigurable systems by adding or removing nodes at any time. It can do so using nothing more than the in situ power wiring of the system.

This work was done by Michael J. Krasowski, Normal F. Prokop, Lawrence C. Greer III, and Jennifer Nappier of Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18631-1.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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