This report describes the development and implementation of a microcontroller system that is used in a sensor network that is used to study the behavior of tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). The microcontroller system, traditionally referred to as a “webplug”, is used to measure temperature at nestboxes, control a Peltier device to simulate artificial climate change at the nestboxes, and provide access by HTTP to control and access webplug data. Attrition of original webplugs from past field seasons requires new webplugs to be made; many of the crucial components in the original webplug being obsolete required the design of a new webplug. A new webplug was developed using a TS-7553 single board computer (SBC) from Technologic Systems. A separate printed circuit board (PCB) was designed and constructed to complement the SBC to provide functions not found on the SBC, including Peltier control and temperature measurement. The new webplug implements all current webplug functions, include measure nestbox temperature, control Peltier to simulate climate change, and host web server to provide HTTP access. In addition to original webplug functions, the new webplug could also access RFID reader data used in the network to provide real time RFID data. A total of 15 new webplugs were constructed and will be deployed in the 2013 field season.
Full report (pdf)