Downhole Acoustic Telemetry

ProtoLink developed software to configure, monitor, and command downhole tools. Communication is accomplished directly via RS-232 while on the surface or acoustically while downhole.

ProtoLink was asked by a leading oilfield services company to develop software to work with its proprietary acoustic telemetry hardware.

The acoustic telemetry hardware consists of a network of acoustic repeater nodes that are physically attached to the tubing at various points. Each node talks to its neighboring node. Some communication nodes can have gauges or other tool types attached to them. The software developed by ProtoLink can communicate with the tools in two modes: direct and downhole.

Direct mode is used when the tools are on the surface and directly connected via an RS-232 serial port. While in direct mode, users can configure each tool with basic acoustic communication parameters (frequencies, data rates, acoustic gains, etc.) as well as tool-specific information if the node is also a gauge or other tool.

While in downhole mode, the computer running the software is attached to the top node via an RS-232 serial port and commands are relayed down to specific tools acoustically by the network of communication nodes. Nodes with gauges can be commanded to acquire real-time pressure and temperature data. The data is relayed up the network of nodes to the host computer which logs this data to the client’s proprietary real-time database.

The system has extensive logging and diagnostic capabilities for troubleshooting and optimizing communications. Every byte of data that is sent or received by the software is logged, and each communication node keeps detailed communication statistics. The software has automated sequences that can find faults in the communication network, analyze communication quality between the nodes of the network, and optimize communication quality.

While the overall system was originally developed to log real-time temperatures and pressures from downhole gauges, the design of the software and the acoustic repeater network was done in such a way that the communication infrastructure could be reused with other tool types in the future.

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