Compost heap temperature logger helps keep things hot


HackHut user [lackawanna] is looking to start his own compost pile, but as many urban composters discover, things can get quite smelly if you don’t manage it properly. The process of composting is broken up into two phases, aerobic and anaerobic decomposition. The former is the first stage to occur and produces plenty of heat, but should be scentless. The latter gives off less heat and is more of a stink due to putrefaction. Carefully monitoring the temperature of the pile and restarting the aerobic phase when necessary helps to keep the process “healthy” and scent-free.

[lackawanna] built a simple temperature monitor that he plans on using to track the status of his compost pile once he gets started. It uses an ATmega328 as the brains of the operation and an old metal can transistor as his temperature sensor. Using relative measurements of the compost pile taken in 10 minute intervals, he can determine when the aerobic phase is underway, as well as when things begin turning anaerobic. At that point, the sensor alerts him that the pile needs to be turned.

The build is pretty simple, but leaves plenty of room for expansion. It should be relatively easy to add a more friendly notification interface as well as install multiple sensors to the pile for obtaining aggregate temperature data.


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