The concept of SHM is that a sensing system on the structure monitors the system responses and notifies the owner about the condition of the structure. The aim of this paper is to propose an inexpensive SHM method employing low-cost sensors to monitor the railroad bridges. Traditional monitoring systems can have limitations regarding the deployment of wired sensors due to their high cost. In this paper, the utilization of low-cost sensors for live load monitoring of railroad bridges is explored. In this study an Arduino microcontroller along with an inexpensive accelerometer manufactured by Analog Devices were used as test platform. In order to determine the ability of the low-cost accelerometer to assess the condition of a vibrating structure, the sensor system was attached to an actuator simulating bridge vibrations and different types of frequencies and amplitudes were tested. The values obtained with the Arduino microcontroller are very similar to the commercial accelerometer while being 60 times cheaper, which shows the potential of investing on low-cost instrumentation for inexpensive monitoring of railroad bridges. The findings of this research indicate that low-cost sensors can be effectively utilized for structural health monitoring of railroad bridges.

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