April 20, 2012

Low cost wireless environmental sensing with Arduino

Check out this great video showing how a group of people with different skills and backgrounds came together to build an environmental monitoring system. One of the key components is a Freetronics EtherTen, which acted as a communications gateway for the system by linking sensors to the Internet via a 3G connection.

From the video description:

On the 23 of February ScienceMob organised a sprint event with Gaia Resources, the JCU eResearch Centre and Townsville City Council. Many of us were strangers working with systems we were not familiar with.

The event took place at the Rowes Bay sustainability demonstration house, a pre-1980s concrete block home that has been retrofitted with energy efficiency measures and renewable energy solutions with a focus upon the benefits of maintaining biodiversity through planned urban landscapes.

Our plan was to make 8 subterranean enclosures and monitor their temperature with different types of covers. We chose galvanized iron as our roofing material and painted half of our roofs black and the other half white. We also used various thicknesses of insulation and left one black and white treatment un-insulated. 

Temperatures were measured using the maxim DS18B20 1-Wire digital thermometer. These sensors were connected to a solar charged lithium ion powered Seedunio Stalker v2.1 board with XBee wireless communication. Data was transmitted to an XBee module on an EtherTen connected to a 3G modem via an ethernet connection.

Information was then sent by a web service to Gaia Resources' servers in Perth and visualized on the web using Google APIs.

Preliminary results showed that a plain white roof without insulation may be better than a black roof with insulation; we will make the visualization and setup details available to the general public in the coming months so that you can watch the progress of the experiment from wherever you have an internet connection.

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