Communication between a sink node and a PC can constitute a bottleneck for high data rate applications of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) including, but not limited to, structural health monitoring, condition monitoring, wireless surveillance and patient health monitoring. In this paper, we evaluate four different data acquisition alternatives for data-intensive WSN applications. We will concentrate especially on optimizing UART (universal asynchronous receiver transmitter) communication in conjunction with WSN applications. Furthermore, we propose a new method for sink node to PC communication, which is based on using a USB-connected data acquisition (DAQ) board that samples the node external I/O. This method can provide an efficient solution to transfer data from the sink node to PC at a reasonable cost. Wireless sink node converts the data received from the network into analog signal levels, which are sampled through the DAQ board connected to a PC, and the original data is reconstructed offline. Tests on a wooden bridge built to scale with six wireless sensor nodes and a sink node show that with the proposed method it is possible to collect the data from the network and transfer them onto the PC significantly faster than with the 115.2 kbps UART communication regularly used in WSN applications.

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