While it can be straightforward to distill water to high purity, this is rarely the best method for producing water for useful purposes. Even drinking water typically needs certain minerals in it, plants may need a certain pH, and wastewater systems have a whole host of other qualities that need to be measured. Measuring water quality is a surprisingly complex endeavor as a result and often involves a wide array of sensors, much like this water quality meter from [RowlesGroupResearch].
The water quality meters that they are putting to use are typically set up in remote locations, without power, and are targeting natural bodies of water and also wastewater treatment plants. Temperature and pH are simple enough to measure and grasp, but this device also includes sensors for total dissolved solids (TDS) and turbidity which are both methods for measuring various amounts and types of particles suspended in the water. The build is based around an Arduino so that it is easy for others to replicate, and is housed in a waterproof box with a large battery, and includes data logging to an SD card in order to make it easy to deploy in remote, outdoor settings and to gather the data at a later time.
The build log for this device also goes into detail about all of the steps needed to set this up from scratch, as well as a comprehensive bill of materials. This could be useful in plenty of professional settings such as community wastewater treatment facilities but also in situations where it’s believed that industrial activity may be impacting a natural body of water. For a water quality meter more focused on drinking water, though, we’d recommend this build that is trained on its own neural network.
Modern WiFi-enabled microcontrollers have made it affordable and easy to monitor everything from local weather information to electricity usage with typically no more than a few dollars worth of hardware and a little bit of programming knowledge. Monitoring one’s own utility data can be a little bit more difficult without interfering with the metering equipment, but we have seen some clever ways of doing this over the years. The latest is this water meter monitoring device based on a Raspberry Pi Pico.
The clever thing here isn’t so much that it’s based on the tiniest of Raspberry Pis, but how it keeps track of the somewhat obscured water flow information coming from the meter. Using a magnetometer placed close to the meter, the device can sense the magnetic field created as water flows through the meter’s internal sensors. The magnetic field changes in a non-obvious way as water flows through it, so the program has to watch for specific peaks in the magnetic field. Each of these specific waveforms the magnetometer detects counts to 0.0657 liters of water, which is accurate for most purposes.
For interfacing with a utility meter, this is one of the more efficient and elegant hacks we’ve seen in a while. There have, of course, been other attempts to literally read the meter using web cams and computer vision software, but the configuration for these builds is much more complex than something like this. You can interface with plenty of utility meters other than water meters, too, regardless of age.
Well, this is embarrassing! Imagine sending a multibillion-dollar rover to an ancient lakebed on Mars only to discover after a year of poking around at the rocks that it might not actually have been a lake after all. That seems to be the impression of Jezero Crater that planetary scientists are forming after looking at the data coming back from Perseverance since it nailed the landing in what sure as heck looked like a dried-up lake, complete with a river delta system. A closer look at the sediments Perseverance has been sampling reveals a lot of the mineral olivine, which on Earth is rare near the surface because it readily reacts with water. Finding lots of olivine close below the surface of Jezero suggests that it either wasn’t all that watery once upon a time, or that what water was there was basically ice cold. The results are limited to where the rover has visited, of course, and the nice thing about having wheels is that you can go somewhere else. But if you were hoping for clear signs that Jezero was once a lake teeming with life, you might have to keep waiting.
In other space news, we have to admit to taking NASA to task a bit in the podcast a couple of weeks back for not being quite up to SpaceX’s zazzle standards with regard to instrumenting the SLS launch. Yeah, a night launch is spectacular, but not having all those internal cameras like the Falcon has just sort of left us flat. But we should have been more patient, because the images coming back from Artemis 1 are simply spectacular. We had no idea that NASA attached cameras to the solar panels of the Orion spacecraft, which act a little like selfie sticks and allow the spacecraft to be in the foreground with Earth and the Moon in the background. Seeing Earth from lunar distance again for the first time in 50 years has been a real treat, and getting our satellite in the frame at the same time is a huge bonus.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: December 4, 2022” →
[RiverTechJess] is in the process of getting a PhD in environmental engineering and has devoted a chapter to creating a turbidity sensor for river network monitoring. Environmental sensing benefits from being able to measure accurately and frequently, so providing low cost devices helps get more data and excuse the occasional device loss that’s bound to happen when deploying electronics out in the wild. Towards this end, [RiverTechJess] has created a low cost turbidity sensor that rivals the more expensive alternatives in cost and accuracy.
The turbidity sensor is designed to be at least partially submerged allowing for the LED and light sensors to be be able to take measurements. [RiverTechJess] has made a 3D printed prototype to test the design, allowing for rapid experimentation and deployment of the sensors to work out issues. The 3D printed enclosure prototype uses rubber o-rings and “vacuum grease” to provide a watertight seal. An ESP32 microcontroller is used to store logged data on an SD card and drive the TSHG6200 850nm infrared LED and the two TSL237S-LF sensors.
The resulting paper on the turbidity sensor, in addition to the blogs of the process, provide a wealth of data that show what goes into developing and calibrating a device that is meant to be used for environmental monitoring. All source code is available on GitHub and development continues on a newer revision of the turbidity sensor with updated electronics and hardware.
We’re no strangers to water sensors and we’ve seen devices from internet connected water pollution monitors to small handheld potable water detectors.
Video after the break!
Continue reading “Rapid Prototyping To Measure Turbidity In Rapids” →
Water damage can quickly make even the nicest buildings unliveable. [Andres Leon] suffered a small flood from an air conditioning unit, and wanted to avoid such issues in future. Thus, he built a wireless monitor to solve the problem.
The device is based on the ESP8266, allowing it to wirelessly communicate with Home Assistant. Thus, if it detects water via its rust-proof probes, it can notify Home Assistant via an MQTT message. From there, Home Assistant can advise the home owner remotely via phone and email. Plus, just for completeness, there’s a loud buzzer in the unit that goes off when water is detected, too. Thanks to a 2500 mAh lithium-polymer battery on board, the device can run for up to 5 months between recharges.
Integrating warning systems into one’s smart home system can be particularly useful when one is away for long periods. Things like water leaks tend to do damage over time when we’re not paying attention, so any IoT device that can assist in this regard is helpful. If you want to investigate the cause of a difficult leak, though, this other project may help. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Wireless Water Detector Hooks Up To Home Assistant” →
Change on industrial scales is slow, but if you’re operating your own small farm or simply working in a home garden there are some excellent ways to use water more effectively. The latest tool from [YJ] makes it possible to use much less water while still keeping plant yields high.
This is an improvement on a previous project which automates watering and lighting of a small area or single pot. This latest creation, called FLORA, includes a LoRa module for communication up to 3 kilometers, and the ESP32 on board also handles monitoring of soil moisture, humidity and other sensors. It also includes a pump driver for managing irrigation systems so that smart decisions can be made about when to water. Using this device, the water usage when testing was reduced by around 30% compared to a typical timed irrigation system.
Using a smart system like this is effective for basically any supply of water, but for those who get water from something like an off-grid rainwater system or an expensive water utility, the gains are immediate. If you aren’t already growing your own food to take advantage of tools like this, take a look at this primer to get you started.
Did you know that water can drip UP instead of down? It’s true! Okay, okay- it’s a bit of an optical illusion, but one that’s mesmerizing no less, and it’s one that is especially awe-inspiring for kids. As [Science Buddies] explains in the video below the break, it’s also achievable for anyone with some basic supplies.
On first glance, the “water dripping upward” illusion looks like it must be extremely complicated with precisely timed drops, and perfectly triggered strobing lights and the like- right? Well, not so much. [Science Buddies] demonstrates a highly simplified experiment using only an aquarium pump, a basic frame, a smart phone with a strobing app, and naturally, water. The experiment is presented in a simple manner that would allow a young person to replicate it without too much adult intervention.
The video goes into such concepts as frequency, duty cycle (pulse width modulation), and other basic engineering principles. The experiment can be completed for just a few dollars for the pump and tubing, and the rest can be improvised. What a great way to get a young one started on their way to engineering!
If you’d like to see a more fleshed out version of a similar machine, check out this gravity defying dripper we featured a few years ago.
Continue reading “Water Drips Up In Kid-Friendly Engineering Experiment” →