Distributed Network Data
From hardware to data to visualization
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: February 2013
Pages: 170

Build your own distributed sensor network to collect, analyze, and visualize real-time data about our human environment—including noise level, temperature, and people flow. With this hands-on book, you’ll learn how to turn your project idea into working hardware, using the easy-to-learn Arduino microcontroller and off-the-shelf sensors.

Authors Alasdair Allan and Kipp Bradford walk you through the entire process, from prototyping a simple sensor node to performing real-time analysis on data captured by a deployed multi-sensor network. Demonstrated at recent O’Reilly Strata Conferences, the future of distributed data is already here. If you have programming experience, you can get started immediately.

  • Wire up a circuit on a breadboard, and use the Arduino to read values from a sensor
  • Add a microphone and infrared motion detector to your circuit
  • Move from breadboard to prototype with Fritzing, a program that converts your circuit design into a graphical representation
  • Simplify your design: learn use cases and limitations for using Arduino pins for power and grounding
  • Build wireless networks with XBee radios and request data from multiple sensor platforms
  • Visualize data from your sensor network with Processing or LabVIEW
Table of Contents
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About the Author
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oreillyDistributed Network Data
 
4.4

(based on 5 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (4)
  • Helpful examples (3)
  • Well-written (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

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        • Developer (3)

      Reviewed by 5 customers

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      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Build your own network of sensor modules

      By Carol

      from San Diego

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate
        • Novice
        • Student

        Comments about oreilly Distributed Network Data:

        When I pick up a cookbook to try a new recipe, I want to know that the recipe has been tested and works. If the recipe doesn't work out, the cookbook gets tossed on a bottom shelf to gather dust. I hold my technical books to a similar standard.

        If you want to create a network of multi-sensor Arduino modules that share information, this book delivers. The authors' extensive "hands on" experience produces a practical recipe for success. Beginners through intermediate users will appreciate the clarity of steps building from parts to a working network of sensor modules.

        The authors break down this task into three major chunks:

        Part 1 - Building a multiple sensor Arduino module: The book's first six chapters walk a reader through setting up multiple sensors (temperature/humidity, motion, sound) with an Arduino. Chapter by chapter, the reader learns about hardware, adding a sensor to work with an Arduino, how to add multiple sensors, wiring up a breadboard, using Fritzing, and soldering a prototype multi-sensor module.

        Part 2 - Creating a network of sensor modules: In this part, the authors dive into the details of using XBee wireless controllers. In one chapter, they cut the USB cord and show how the XBee can be used for wireless communication. Once the user masters a single XBee/Arduino sensor module, the books shows how two modules can be used for point to point wireless communication. Gradually, the authors give you instruction on how to create a "many to point" or star network to allow call and response by the modules. Although there is not a specific tutorial on creating a mesh network, the authors build your skill level and confidence, and you should be able to tackle the projects in their suggested book.

        Part 3 - Visualizing and using information from the sensor modules: Visualizing data is a broad topic; consider this book as a starting point. Lego Mindstorm enthusiasts (as well as those looking to create an information dashboard) will appreciate the chapter on LabView. A suggestion for future revisions would be to add more detail or resources on how Python can be used for data visualization using SciPy and NumPy.

        Overall, the authors deliver a technically solid book. A reader can build confidence as they successfully navigate from chapter to chapter -- concept to working system. If I can find the time, I may place some sensor modules in multiple places in my own garden to track temperature and humidity and perhaps use the sound input to provide an alert when the bunnies are eating my vegetables!

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        3.0

        Great on Arduino, not on interpretation

        By Charles

        from Canberra, Australia

        About Me Developer, Musician, Researcher

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Arduino Hardware Tips
        • Easy to understand
        • Great On Xbee
        • Well-written

        Cons

        • Not Enough Analysis
        • Not Good On Visualisation

        Best Uses

        • Arduino Walkthrough
        • Novice
        • Sensor Walkthrough
        • Student
        • Xbee Walkthrough

        Comments about oreilly Distributed Network Data:

        "Distributed Network Data" is a beginner's guide to building a swarm of wirelessly-connected Arduino-powered "motes" or sensor nodes.

        This book takes the reader step by step through the process of creating an Arduino based sensor node equipped with a combined temperature and humidity sensor, a motion sensor, and a microphone. This sensor "mote" is connected to a receiving computer via an XBee wireless module. On the receiving side, we connect a master XBee directly to a computer to receive data from one or more "motes", log it all to a text file and graph it with Processing or LabVIEW.

        The authors nailed the two chapters dedicated to setting up the XBee wireless modules - a tricky topic! They cut through the subtle variations of XBees available and carefully explain the surprisingly low-level setup (think typing arcane commands into a serial terminal). Another great section demonstrates how to avoid soldering a messy circuit by using the Arduino's digital IO pins to supply power and ground to the simple components. This cool trick saves space as well as battery power by allowing you to switch sensors off in between samples.

        After such thorough chapters on wiring up all of these gizmos, I missed the detail in the section on visualising the data which was limited to graphing readings from a single temperature and humidity sensor. Once you've got a couple of motion detectors, noise level recorders and climate sensors set up, how do you make connections between the data from different sensor nodes and how do you visualise it all together? The authors make no attempts to answer this hard question even though the back cover suggests that we would be "performing real-time analysis on data captured by a deployed multi-sensor network". I felt a bit let down that we missed out on this final crucial step.

        Overall - grab this (inexpensive!) book for the great Arduino walkthroughs but don't expect a lot of help in understanding the output.

        (PS, I received and reviewed this book as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program!)

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Excellent intro to sensor networks

        By Veven

        from Edmonton, Alberta

        About Me Developer, Maker

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Book Layout Fits Project
        • Concise
        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

        • Components Are Expensive
        • Project Can Be Expensive

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate

        Comments about oreilly Distributed Network Data:

        I've used Arduino for a while, building simple devices, but they're usually no more than toys. This book is an excellent introduction into building a useful project, even for someone with very little Arduino experience.

        The book introduces the principles of building sensor motes and a sensor network, and once you understand these basics, there are a huge number of potential projects to build. And if you're a software person, you can collect this data into CSV format and visualize it with your favourite tool (e.g. d3.js, matplotlib, processing).

         
        4.0

        Great except missing review of power

        By Shawn

        from Far far away

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples

        Cons

        • Not comprehensive enough

        Best Uses

          Comments about oreilly Distributed Network Data:

          Reading this had me quickly able to make my own remote sensor however I immediately found my remote power supplies failing. Additional guidance for planning and monitoring a remote power source, as well as options such as putting the Arduino into a low power mode would have been welcome. Things like picking the right battery, effects of temperature on the power, ideas for enclosures, as well as options of writing to sd or sending by URL to a remote service like cosm would have made a complete solution.

          (0 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          DYNAMITE

          By Bruno

          from providence, RI

          Comments about oreilly Distributed Network Data:

          This book is DYNAMITE! Can't wait for the sequel!

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