Abstract: To rigorously benchmark the performance of low-power wireless protocols, it is essential to monitor and quantify the RF activity in a given testing environment. Indeed, unwanted radio interference in the surroundings of wireless nodes may worsen their communication performance. Similarly, an inconsistent RF noise across multiple test runs may prevent the ability to fairly compare their results. Unfortunately, to date, this aspect is often neglected by the community, especially due to the lack of monitoring tools enabling a quantitative assessment of RF activity in large testing facilities. In this paper, we move the first steps towards the creation of a low-cost tool automating the distributed monitoring of RF usage in a low-power wireless testbed. Specifically, we first instrument modern Raspberry Pi devices to sense any ongoing activity on the RF channel, enabling a functionality that is typically not available on off-the-shelf Wi-Fi hardware. We then show that one can synchronize the RF measurements of multiple Raspberry Pi connected to a common Ethernet backbone with an average error below 200 us. We further devise exemplary strategies to quantify the difference in RF activity across test runs, and enable the real-time detection of deviations in the current RF channel usage compared to what was measured in an earlier run. We finally showcase the ability to compare the RF activity during several test runs and detect when additional radio interference was present in the environment, as well as when diverse interference patterns were artificially generated.
Keywords: Measurement, Dependability, Performance, Testbeds
TL;DR: We enable distributed RF monitoring using low-cost Rasbperry Pi 4 and propose a metric to quantify the RF activity in a given testing environment.