The development of an on-train self-powered hot box detector utilizing hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing method is presented. Real-time simulations of the energy harvesting system enables thorough studies and optimization, before implementing prototypes and conducting in-service tests. The integration of a vibration energy harvesting system, power storage and smart sensor node is described as well as the derivation of real-time models delivering an on-line estimation of the generated electrical power. During HIL tests with vibration records of a real running gear, energy generation is balanced with consumption by data acquisition, signal processing and communication. Afterwards, the optimized prototype is implemented and tested
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