The business purpose of this project is to reduce the risk involved in being able to generate low cost circuitry to time pulse incidents very accurately in remote locations by synchronising to GPS reference. This will enable ASH to bid with confidence on fault location equipment.
The summer internship project undertaken was developing a pair of identical synchronised timing receivers that can be used to estimate the location of a fault along an electrical distribution line, when the receivers are placed at both ends of the cable. The two receivers are designed to accurately measure the time taken for pulse signals due to the fault to travel to both ends of the distribution line, where this timing information can be used to compute the location of the fault.
The purpose of these receivers is to significantly reduces the time and cost of manually locating these faults as these cables are placed under buildings, roads etc. For Ash this project provides experience in designing synchronised receivers of high accuracy which can be used to tackle projects of similar kind.
The challenges faced in this project involved having the embedded software to execute at a sufficiently fast rate to meet the timing constraints, needed for measuring the timing information without introducing a blind spot after a detected event. Ultimate accuracy is limited by the jitter period of the GPS-derived reference signal used for measurements, though this could be overcome with an alternative (more expensive and complex) timing reference system.
With technical guidance and support from the Ash team, Mohammed has come up with an embedded system design and software architecture that is simple and is able to meet timing constraints needed for achieving accurate timing measurement.