In the United States alone, there are an estimated 180 million utility poles. Both ubiquitous and completely vital, utility poles carry power, telephone, and cable lines. While a few of these poles are concrete or steel, the vast majority are wood and are thus susceptible to decay and failure. A properly treated wooden utility pole can have a lifespan of 25-50 years, a figure which heavily depends on the climate around it as both moisture and strong winds can compromise the integrity of the pole. Utility poles can also be severely impacted by more active hazards, including car crashes and insect infestation.


We propose a device that can be mounted on utility poles to monitor their structural integrity. Our device will include sensors to detect the tilt of the pole and will be able to detect hazardous events such as tampering or motor vehicle collision. As an additional application, our device will provide substation monitoring of the electric grid through a component that will be mounted near the power distribution line insulators on the pole. This will also allow our device to harvest the energy from the magnetic field produced by the power lines. The use of energy harvesting will allow our project to minimally invasive and have low upkeep costs.

Our devices will be able to communicate with the central service station via a wireless network. This information can be used by local service providers with an array of functionality: from monitoring the power quality in a specific region to determining when a pole is likely to fall and needs maintenance.


Pole tilt and incident monitoring
Should periodically (at least every 20 min) report the current pole tilt degree and whether a significant impact (which could potentially not change the tilt) has occurred.

Non-Invasive Power Line Monitoring
Should measure and report the current flowing through the power line.

Energy Harvesting
Should harvest energy from the magnetic field produced by the power line.

Energy Self-Sufficiency
Should never require a battery recharge or replacement.

Weather-Proof Housing
Should work properly regardless of weather or climate.

Non-Invasive Installation
Should be easily and quickly installable by routine maintenance workers and should not negatively impact either the pole or the power line.

Temperature Monitoring
Should report the temperature of the conductor to monitor for power line sagging.

User Interface
Should have an intuitive GUI to communicate with the utility company.

Long Distance Communication
Should inform the utility company in a city wide range.

Low network load
Should size data packets to be under 8 bytes and transmission period should be low enough to prevent network jamming (e.g. once in 20 min).



Accelerometer/Gyroscope Bosch Sensortec BMI160
Temperature Sensor Texas Instrument LMT86LP
Current Transformer DROK 100A/100mA Current Transformer


Battery Lithium Ion Polymer 500mAh
Energy Harvesting IC Linear Technology LTC3106


Web Server Go net/http


LoRaWAN Server LoRa Server
RF Transceiver Semtech SX1276


Microcontroller Texas Instruments CC2650

Architecture Diagram

Interaction Diagrams

Data Flow

Energy Harvesting

Use Cases

Proactive Maintenance

If a utility company knows a pole is likely to fall down before it happens, the company can schedule to replace the pole at an appropriate time, avoiding major traffic stresses and power outages.

Rapid Outage Reporting

If a pole falls, or a power line fault occurs, the device can quickly report it to the utility company, decreasing outage times.


With 8 200 Watt lightbulbs, we can draw up to 13.3A!
Our PCB in its waterproof home.
Close up of our custom PCB.
Our testbench with the lights off.
Testing accelerometer functionality.
A pole at rest.
Debug data!
Public demo table.
Team picture.
Pole is tilted.
Another view.
More debugging!

The Team

Ben Crites

Anton Kuznetsov

Evan Lee

Hannah Tomio