Trail conditions monitoring... Interesting, longshot project

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Trail conditions monitoring... Interesting, longshot project

Postby crrimson » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:37 pm

I recently got this fancy little gadget (a programmable microcontroller) called an Arduino that is really easy to program and allows you to hook all kinds of sensors up & bla bla bla basically it is you can do a lot of fun stuff with it. I was speaking with Eric he also said he got one for Christmas.

I got an idea from a project I saw that monitored house plants & let you know over the internet when they needed to be watered. I didn't watch the video all the way through at the time because I don't own a plant. Here is the page where I saw the project, as well as others http://hacknmod.com/hack/top-40-arduino ... f-the-web/ (the plant one is #10 on the list)

But if you can set it up to tell you when the plants need watering that means it could also tell you the moisture content of the soil, after letting it monitor for a while you could determine what % would be rideable conditions or unrideable, and have it automatically update a web page with open/close info.

I thought it would be really cool if you could set one up in the woods some place where a deer or raccoon wouldn't eat it, and have it report soil conditions at dear old Beverly since we don't really have a good way to close/open trails.

I think the idea itself would work great, but the problem being getting the information out of the park and off onto the web where it would be useful. It is definitely possible. If anything it could update a sign at the park.

Just an idea I think would be interesting to mess with.
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Postby NoyzSource » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:42 pm

I actually had the exact same idea a couple weeks ago.

Of course, the limiting factor is power and data transfer.

If we can drop the power low enough a BIOS battery could last a long time.
Unless we set up our own mesh network we will have trouble getting the data out of the park. Not insurmountable though.

I also want to put in a digital camera for checking activity in the parking lot.
I also had an idea for a safety device with Bluetooth and SMS/Twitter.
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Postby crrimson » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:28 am

I don't know about the camera idea big brother! I don't know why a 9V or a few 9V in parallel wouldn't work, the Arduino can run off of them just fine.

The current draw for that monitoring thing I think would have to be pretty low and last a long time.

Powering a laptop though or device to transmit wirelessly & even getting wireless signal in/out would be the issue. I haven't looked, maybe you can get 3G or something long range for a laptop.

Ever hear of people stealing power from the power lines with inductors? hahaha I know where we can find some power lines :), just kidding.

Also totally unrelated and not stealing http://www.doobybrain.com/2008/02/03/el ... s-to-glow/
This is really cool, I want to try it.
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Postby konabiker » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:05 am

solar?
hook it up to cell phone and have it txt message the website

ideally a mesh network of the devices all over the trail so you can get an avg moisture index instead of just one spot

otherwise we were thinking at sugar to have LED open/closed signs solar powered connected to cell phone that we could txt message the phone(s) to open/close the trail via the sugar bottom hotline which updates our website

not quite as cool as moisture content samples but when i looked into those, they were really expensive
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Postby Farmboy » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:08 am

This is a freakin' awesome idea. I like the idea of the camera in the parking lot. We could get video of the teens being naughty and then send the footage to them with ransom demands (Join LAMBA at the Sustaining membership level by 8am tomorrow or this video goes to your parents!) How's that for a fundraiser?
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Postby Cole82 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:01 pm

Do you really want to see me nakid? :oops:
I'm too busy to do anything....
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Postby crrimson » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:18 pm

I watched the video about this, here is a link to the project kit, which pretty much just uses arduino & some other stuff. ($100) but it is designed to use an AC adaptor & output over Ethernet. It could be done cheaper I would think.

It looks like it's pretty much just a resistance reading on the ground, the complicated part would be the communication part.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/add2/

You think the neighbors would notice an extension cord running from their backyard & disappearing into Beverly Park? lol

Still fun to kick the ideas around
Last edited by crrimson on Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:59 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby NoyzSource » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:54 pm

A guy at work suggested buying the solar powered path lights and embedding the electronics in there. You really only need a couple updates a day and if there is enough sun it will power up. If not, then you don't get the update right then.
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Postby Farmboy » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:16 pm

Cole82 wrote:Do you really want to see me nakid? :oops:


I shiver thinking about that.
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Postby crrimson » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:33 am

I agree solar is a good idea. I think solar to prolong battery life would be best. Considering the times you really want to know if the trails are dry yet, the sun probably hasn't been out too much. I also think that the arduino probably would like a stable voltage source, 9V batteries really aren't that expensive :).

The real problem is finding a way to power a device to transmit the data from the arduino, & what device to use.
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Postby NoyzSource » Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:57 am

http://blog.strobotics.com.au/2009/06/0 ... ed-widget/

Arduino based.
Potentially Solar powered.
Zigbee wireless which is low power and short distance so some mods would need to be made.
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Postby crrimson » Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:23 pm

I will have to check that link above out later on. Preferring to keep things simple & then build upon it as necessary I went ahead and I referenced the botanicalls schematic, and threw this together & it works!


Image

This is about as simple as it gets.
Code: Select all
/*
 * Moisture Test
 * 6/10/09 - Adam Knutson
 *
 * reads the resistance between 2 poles
 * these are seperated by an earth ground & indicates
 * the moisture content of the dirt (higher numbers = more saturated)
 *
 * extremely moist(max) = 650
 * very moist = 625
 * average = 545
 *
 *
 */

int analogPin = 0;    // select the input pin for analog
int outPin = 2;     // Digital out
//int ledPin = 13;   // select the pin for the LED
int val = 0;       // variable to store the value coming from the sensor

void setup() {
  //pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);  // declare the ledPin as an OUTPUT
  pinMode(outPin, OUTPUT);
  Serial.begin(9600);
}

void loop() {
  digitalWrite(outPin, 1);  // set the output pin to high.
  val = analogRead(analogPin);    // read the value from the sensor
  Serial.println(val);
}


I took a photo of the probes, & what it looks like all connected I could upload those if you wanted to check it out. The probes are just 2 ends of a copper staple I sawed in half, not quite an inch long, soldered to 2 wires. I placed them about 1/4" apart in some dirt, watched the output, & dumped some water in the jar I had the dirt in & watched the numbers rise.

While a transmitter would be really cool, since you live so close to Beverly I thought that if it rains at Beverly chances are pretty good it rained at your house.

We could try this out in your backyard, then at several places within the park. Take a few readings at both places over a week or more, note the weather/trail conditions with the readings, then see if the moisture level in your backyard would be close enough to a certain spot at Bev that we could with reasonable accuracy predict the trail conditions there.

If so, set up a server, run some cables from a PC to your backyard & have it update a website or even the front page of Lamba if we find out it's accurate enough.

But I would say that we could use it more as a guide to trail conditions rather than making decisions on whether the trail should be closed or not based upon it.
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Postby konabiker » Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:08 pm

that is so freakin cool!
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