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We experimentally investigate the impact of variable transmission power on link quality, and propose variable power link quality control techniques to enhance the performance of data delivery in wireless sensor networks. This study extends the state of the art in two key respects: first, while there are a number of previous results on power control techniques for wireless ad hoc and sensor networks, to our knowledge, nearly all of them have been simulated and analytically studied that assumes the idealized link conditions; second, while there are several recent experimental studies that have shown the prevalence of non-ideal unreliable communication links in sensor networks, the paper has not thoroughly investigated the impact of variable transmission power. We perform a systematic set of experiments to analyze how the transmission power changes affect the quality of low power RF wireless links between nodes. These experiments show how significant variation in link qualities occur in real-world deployments and how these effects strongly influence the effectiveness of transmission power control. We then present a packet-based transmission power control mechanism that incorporates blacklisting to enhance link reliability while minimizing interference. The effectiveness of the proposed scheme is demonstrated via test bed experiments.