Radio Monitors Pipeline Integrity

April 16, 2009
This compact, board-level radio uses frequency-hopping spread-spectrum technology at the unlicensed 2.4-GHz band to collect measurements and report status on remote pipelines and other structures.

Pipelines for water, oil, and natural gas can run for long distances, across areas difficult to check for leaks and damage. But the new IM-CP cathodic protection (CP) radio from FreeWave Technologies operates at 2.4 GHz for automated pipeline integrity monitoring over long distances, including in places difficult to access by physical means. The frequencyhopping, spread-spectrum, boardlevel radio provides the inputs and outputs for monitoring and reporting on the status of pipelines, tanks, structures, and other underground facilities subject to environmental corrosion.

The IM-CP CP radio operates from 2.400 to 2.483 GHz with 5 to 500 mW output power. The spread-spectrum radio has a line of sight range of 20 miles (32 km). It employs two-level Gaussian frequency-shift-keying (GFSK) modulation at 115.2 or 153.6 kb/s with an occupied bandwidth of 230 kHz. It can also operate at a low-speed data rate of 80 kb/s. Transmissions are made even more robust through the use of 32-b cyclic redundancy check (CRC) error-correction code with automation retransmission.

The radio works with 15 user-selectable hopping patterns per band (105 total), with 75 to 80 user-selectable hopping channels. The radio achieves receiver sensitivity of -107 dBm for a biterror rate (BER) of 10-4 and sensitivity of -105 dBm for BER of 10-6. System gain of 134 dB helps it capture even lowlevel signals over its specified operating distance. The radio has selectivity of 20 dB within 230 kHz of the center frequency and 60 dB within 290 kHz of the center frequency. The board-level radio includes RS-232/422/485 or TTL data interface. It operates on voltages of +10 to +30 VDC, measures 6.5 x 3.5 x 2.0 in., and weighs 160 g. The radio draws in less than 8 mA at +12 VDC in linked idle mode, with less than 60 mA consumed in receive mode.

The spread-spectrum radio is designed for remote installation with the firm's LineMarker Test Station to monitor rectifiers, pipe-to-soil test stations, pressure, and pipeline scrubbing operations. For long-haul applications, each IM-CP radio can act as a slave, a repeater, or a combination of slave and repeater. The LineMarker Test Station measures 30 x 4 x 4 in. and weighs 12 lbs. The LineMarker Test Station includes an integrated solar-powered charging circuit at +12 or +24 VDC with as much as 50 W charging power.

In addition, the company offers the CP DataLogger Software for use with the IM-CP CP radio. The software, which runs on a computer with Windows XP or newer operating system and just 256 MB of random access memory (RAM), can be used to remote monitor, set alarms, send e-mails, and print reports for all the CP and pipeline- monitoring operations performed by the CP radio. The combination of hardware and software can perform rectifier output monitoring of voltage from +12 to +112 VDC, current sense measurements from -0.156 to +0.156 VDC, and pipe-to-soil monitoring at potentials of -8 to +8 VDC. FreeWave Technologies, 1880 Flatiron Court, Suite F, Boulder, CO 80301; (866) 923-6168, (303) 381-9200, FAX: (303) 786-9948, e-mail [email protected], Internet:

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