Ph D Timeline

Current tasks

  • Determine what the three outcomes will be.
    • Small ecological study on a limited number of animals.
    • Description of design?
    • Sensor network thing?

Receiver design tasks - by 23 May

  • Make sure that current iteration and approach is generally sensible.
  • Come up with some sort of complete, working receiver design, even one that isn't the best -
  • Construct second stage impedance match, mixer and output filter.
  • Verify system operation and characterise gain and SNR. Compare to SA602 prototype.
  • Procure or build some 150 MHz dipole antennas - chase up Electric Bug again or build my own.

ADC design tasks - by 6 June

  • Ask Gerard how his ADC projects are going and which devices they've settled on.
  • Select and order some ADCs. Perhaps check what the USRP/USRP2 (AD9862 dual 10/12-bit ADC, also a DAC - $30ish) or the KNJN Flashy (ADC08200 8-bit, 20-200 MSPS) use. The prototype can use expensive devices - decide later on if a slower, lower resolution device is still adequate by simulating. eg, Farnell has the ADC12D040CIVS? ->]] (dual 12-bit 40 MSPS) for $31.44, which isn't too bad considering it's dual.
  • Consider if it's worth prototyping the ADC and software stage using an USRP.
  • USRP1 is not terribly more complicated than a programmable amplifier (built into ADC), ADC and FPGA - I could surely hack at least one on to my FPGA eval board for now.
  • Hack up an ADC interface for my FPGA board.
  • Write basic ADC interface firmware

Integration tasks - by 30 June

  • Refine my MATLAB code - calculate phases from FFT in a non-seedy manner.

Ongoing and later tasks

  • Consider stand-alone operation - Borg mentioned a solar power project
  • Processing platform - use off-the-shelf PC hardware for prototype and move to integrated solution later.

Original timeline

March - April 09

  • By 16 April 09 - Confirmation of supervisor and supervisory panel chair
  • Decide on some preliminary engineering and ecological questions.
    • Engineering: Can technology x (eg, a distributed sensor network) be used to answer ecological thing y (eg, tracking movement of n animals through a study area to an accuracy of z)
    • Don says: Does this have more levels: Step 1. which sensors can be used in a sensor network so that the total cost for information is (say) an order of magnitude lower than for conventional radio-tracking.
    • Step 2. Can that method be applied in an ecological setting? (or something along those lines; I'm not convinced that I've said it very well?)
  • Need to survey radio tracking literature and come up with a cost per fix metric
    • Ecological: eg, based on radio tracking evidence, is there any evidence for the existence of a metapopulation in a study area for n species? How isolated is an geographically isolated population and how closely does this compare to genetic evidence?
    • Don says: How do animals use fragmented landscapes? Are linear strips of native vegetation used for habitat or for long-distance dispersal? Does the width of linear habitat influence their function? Do animals disperse between patches of habitat? (what constitutes habitat?).
    • An important thing to emphasise is that we have such inadequate knowledge about any of these things so far. Use my NSW mallee papers as a case in point (still unknowns, despite extensive trapping and genetic study). Also take to task existing radio-tracking studies (don't tell Annabel though)
  • Get hold of some transmitters for prototype purposes (need not be the tiny and expensive ones)
  • Research, evaluate and contrast different technologies for stations and radio location (with literature review).
  • Don says: Look into any funding opportunities that might get you a trip to central America to visit existing auto-tracking system.
    • eg fixed VHF, rotating VHF, beam forming, harmonic radar, omni, directional and presence/absence
    • Think about cost per station/animal vs desired accuracy
    • yep, that is all important. You should get a clear idea of what sort of information we currently use to answer these dispersal problems, and an idea of their expense. Genetic data; very expensive, only one or a few species. Radio-tracking: labour intensive (and so very expensive), extremely limited in no. fixes and no. animals that can be tracked. The aim of this project is to do ten times (or 100 times) better for a given cost.

April - June 09

  • By 16 June 09 - Confirmation of supervisory panel membership
  • Build limited prototype (one to four stations?) using one technology, eg fixed multiple antenna/receiver VHF
  • Don says: Yes, use the best bet approach after canvassing the literature.
  • Evaluate and model performance of one to four+ station networks in small deployment (maybe an 'ideal' location like a football oval, and then maybe compare it to a 'field' setting)
    • eg characterise location error/accuracy as a function of number of stations, distance, complexity of stations
    • re-evaluate cost per station/large scale deployment as a function of required accuracy, which depends on the ecological question
    • eg power consumption and energy reduction algorithms when using distributed processing. Might need more than four stations to do this, but it can probably be modelled mathematically once the performance of individual stations is known.
  • Think about implementing other tracking technologies if the original one can't deliver desired results.

June - September 09

  • Between 16 June 09 - 16 Sept 09 - Submission of research plan for 12 months ahead
  • Field test of a limited prototype (in some sort of vaguely realistic field location with trees, but probably not on animals)
  • Don says: substantial funding application based on successful (hopefully) prototype.

September - March 09

  • By 16 March 09 - Submission of thesis proposal for review, 1st research progress report, updated research plan.
  • Ethics approval for study species
  • Larger scale test of some ecological question
  • Figure out when to do initial seminar. Find out what it's meant to involve. Work out what to say.
  • Paper about the location method used? Many about sensor nodes locating each other, but haven't yet found any that use nodes to locate non-node things
  • Once I've characterised systems (n antennas, rotating element) I could simulate and model accuracy given distance between nodes and types of elements to determine the accuracy vs price