rssi vs. relative humidity

receive signal strength indication vs. relative humidity data logger
receive signal strength indication vs. relative humidity data logger

I finally got around to deploying my rssi / temperature / relative humidity data logger and recorded nearly 6,000 samples of each metric over a five day period. This radio system operates in the ISM band, and is susceptible to propagation issues due to atmospheric conditions, especially humidity. The logic board provides a terminal that outputs a DC voltage that represents the rssi in dBm. My data logger uses a raspberry pi zero w, and reads the rssi voltage with an MCP3004 analog to digital converter using a bit-banged driver I wrote in perl. Each reading is timestamped using time derived from a DS3231 i2c real-time clock chip.

I use a HTU21 temperature / relative humidity sensor break out board from adafruit. This chip is MUCH MORE STABLE & RELIABLE than the DHT22 I was originally using.

temperature vs. relative humidity data capture
temperature vs. relative humidity data capture

For starters, here is the temperature in fahrenheit (red) vs. the relative humidity (green). Predictably, when the temperature rises, the relative humidity goes down and vice versa.

rssi level vs. relative humidity at 900MHz
rssi level vs. relative humidity at 900MHz

Now here is the relative humidity vs. the rssi. This radio is about 20 miles away from the transmitter over flat terrain with an output of 37dBm (5 watts), and has an average rssi of about -90dBm. You can see from the above graph that at about sample 4,000 when the relative humidity takes a noticeable dip that the rssi has a corresponding, albeit small, increase: precisely what we would expect to see.

Nothing surprising here. It just proves the effectiveness of my data logger device. It would be useful in situations where an RF path is going up and down due to atmospheric conditions or other obstructions, and real-time data would be useful in diagnosing problems and coming up with solutions like a higher gain antenna or increasing height.

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