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Wireless Sensor Network Installed on the Space Needle

Low-profile absolute pressure sensors will collect full-scale measurements to evaluate the efficacy of predictions from wind tunnel and computational simulations.
Absolute pressure sensor at the edge of the Space Needle, overlooking a Puget Sound sunset.
Low-profile turbulent wind pressure sensor developed by Jack Hochschild.

During the winter quarter, lab member Jack Hochschild deployed his newly-developed absolute pressure sensors to the Space Needle in Seattle.

Full-scale pressure measurements from dozens of these sensors will be used to compare wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model predictions. These comparisons will help evaluate the efficacy of CFD predictions and aid the development of computational tools engineers can use to accurately characterize wind loads on high-rise buildings.

A box of pressure sensors waiting in a curved alcove on the roof of the Space Needle, with a view of downtown Seattle.
A box of pressure sensors waiting to be deployed!

These sensors are wirelessly connected and designed to be unobtrusive, low-cost, and low-profile (aerodynamic). Instead of differential pressure sensors, which are susceptible to variability caused by changes in reference pressure, the sensors use absolute pressure transducers to measure wind data. 

A team member safely installing a pressure sensor at the edge of the Space Needle's roof, with a view of the Puget Sound.
A team member safely installs a pressure sensor at the edge of the Space Needle's roof.

In addition to the low-profile pressure sensors on the Space Needle, Jack also deployed anemometers to the roof of the nearby Pacific Science Center.

A wind anemometer on the roof of the Pacific Science Center, with a view of the Space Needle.
Anemometers on the nearby Pacific Science Center will collect data on wind profiles in the surrounding area.

These anemometers will be used to collect wind data for the environment surrounding the Space Needle.

Thank you to the Space Needle crew who helped deploy the sensors, and congrats on a successful deployment!

Read more about this project.

A scenic near-sunset view of downtown Seattle, the Puget Sound, and Mt. Rainier.
All photos by Jack Hochschild