Have you ever wondered how recording devices and people in remote places communicate data over long distances? For instance, weather data recording stations in The Everglades or in vast deserts require a complex set of technologies to transmit that data to scientists in more accessible areas. This type of technology, known as radio telemetry, transfers data over some media between different components, be it a telephone, computer network, or VHF receiver.
The Basics of Telemetry
The term telemetry comes from the Greek roots ‘tele’, meaning remote or distant, and ‘metron’, meaning to measure. Telemetry is an automated communications process involving measurements being made in remote or inaccessible locations and then being transferred to receiving equipment to be monitored. Some advanced systems require external commands, instructions or data in order to operate efficiently in the collection and transmittal of valuable data. This external instructional protocol is a counterpart of telemetry known as telecommand.
Wireless Data Transfer
Typically the process of telemetry refers to data transfer mechanisms that are entirely wireless, such as radio, infrared, or ultrasonic waves, but can also encompass data that is transmitted across other media types such as on the phone or via the Internet, or even through wired networks such as an optical wired link.
Some low cost methods of telemetry take advantage of GSM networks through the use of SMS to transmit their collected data. For instance, a weather station in the middle of the ocean may send the data it collects to its science team through a text message. Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to each means of communicating data from telemetry devices.
The primary device used in this technology is a telemeter, which is simply a device that is used to measure some quantity. It is comprised of a sensor, a transmission wire, a display, a recording and storage device, and often a means of control. These can be wired or wireless, digital or analog, depending on the costs and needs of the application.
Telemetry is so common in electronic applications that they can be found in nearly any industry. Seismologists in the oil and gas industry use them to measure seismic waves as they pass under the Earth’s surface. Meteorologists to record and transmit weather data in remote locations, or under ground to monitor underground aquifers and waterways can use them. They can also be used in the management of inventory, agriculture, wildlife, or in the testing of flights and rockets.