Monday, October 3, 2011

Tmote Sky Sensor Boards

Tmote Sky is a widely used sensor board in wireless sensor network research area. It is very light weight and operates with very ultra-low power. It contains Texas Instruments MSP430F1611 MCU module at the heart of the sensor board. This MCU contains 10kb of RAM and 48kb of flash memory. Tmote Sky is powered by 2 AA batteries. However unlike most of the other sensor boards, Sky motes contains a USB port on board which makes it possible to directly plug in to a PC.
Front Side

When connected to a PC, Sky motes can be powered from the power supply of the USB port. When using Sky motes as sink node(base station) in a sensor network, communication can be done with the PC through USB port. Wireless communication can be done with the CC2420 radio module. For sensing instruments Sky mote contains humidity, temparature and radiation sensors.

WSN operating systems like TinyOS and Contiki can be burnt into Tmote Sky motes for using in various wireless sensor network applications. Here I write down the way to burn a Contiki program into the Tmote Sky motes. The most advantages fact of Contiki programming in Tmote Sky sensor boards is that there exists hardware simulators to test programs before deploying on real motes.

Back Side

1) Since Sky motes contains a MSP430 MCU, we need GCC compiler tool chain to compile our program into Sky motes. If you haven't installed the toolchain yet, issue the following command on the Linux terminal to install these tools.

    apt-get update
    apt-get install binutils-msp430 gcc-msp430 msp430-libc msp430-jtag

2) We need Contiki operating system for this testing program. Therefore download it from here ( Uncompress it to somewhere in your Linux machine.

3) In Contiki-2.4 there is an example LED blink application in the "contiki-2.4/platform/sky/apps" directory named blink.c. Copy this file to the "contiki-2.4/examples/sky" directory. Now go to that direcorty ("contiki-2.4/examples/sky") from the Linux terminal.

4) It's time to compile and test out program. Here we have two options. First one is to compile the program and run on MSPSIM simulators Tmote Sky mode. The other option is to run our program directly on real Tmote Sky sensor boards. To compile and run on MSPSIM simulator, issue the following command.
    make TARGET=sky blink.mspsim

Now the MSPSIM simulator will open up in the Sky mote mode. Simulator will show a graphical representation of the Tmote Sky sensor board and you will notice that its LEDs are blinking. To stop the simulator, type "exit" on the MSPSIM simulators prompt.

MSPSIM Simulator

5) Now we are going to run our application on real Tmote Sky sensor boards. For that purpose, connect a Tmote Sky mote to a USB port of the Linux machine and issue the following command.
    make TARGET=sky blink.upload

Now it will take few seconds to compile and burn the flash memeory of the Tmote Sky mote. Then it will start running. So, you will see its LEDs are blinking.


  1. Heh hey. Um beginning to love this subject.

  2. hey i hav sm Questions bout it. i have to give presentation on its all features and their working. can u help me?
    thanks in advance

  3. You can find more details of the Tmote Sky sensor mote by looking at its technical documents. Here's something I found by searching through Google,

  4. Hey, I need to buy some of these modules. Can you suggest me a good and reliable vendor to buy these from?

  5. @Blog test:
    I'm using the motes which are available in our lab. When I search about the manufacturer of these motes which is MoteIv corp, I realized that their website is not working now and it seems they are not operating anymore. However there are different other vendors who sell Tmote Sky motes and equivalent devices. I found these links by googling,

  6. I am currently using Advanticsys motes and some ContikiOS examples for Sky have worked perfectly. I'm getting to try some more, if someone interested we may publish it somewhere.