Node Based Water Monitoring Network

This project uses a modified mesh network of long range Wi-Fi enabled sensors to monitor the water purity of wells over large areas.

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Water is essential for life. The amount of fresh water on earth is limited, and its quality is under constant pressure. Preserving the quality of fresh water is important for our survival, and for some people this is a daily struggle. Water quality can be compromised by the presence of infectious agents, toxic chemicals, and radiological hazards, all of which make water unsafe to drink.

For people in the developing world, this is a constant battle, and my project aims to make that battle easier. When water becomes polluted, solids form in the liquid, creating ions. The presence of such ions can be easily detected using an electrode and a current sensor. This data give us valuable information as to the purity of the water, and by extension its safety.

This project aims to create a modified mesh network of small sensors, placed in water sources across developing areas, in order to effectively monitor the water quality in the region.

This project is currently in the design stages, as you can see from the project images. At the moment I am prototyping the design on a breadboard and laying out schematics/PCBs in Eagle as I go, as well as experimenting with conductivity sensors, I will update below shortly

I have produced a few graphics demonstrating the overall operation of the design. The project logs below go into detail regarding the design considerations of both the monitoring station and the sensors, with the basic idea behind the project displayed below.

  • Monitoring Station Considerations

    Matt Coates04/25/2015 at 08:38 0 comments

    Having developed some ideas surrounding the Sensors, the design for the Monitoring Station needs to be considered, in order to allow them to interface. The system will use RTC to synchronise transmission between nodes in a sequential order, with the furthest away first, adding data to the packet one by one until it reaches the Monitoring Station. This means all the unit has to do is receive the raw data, process it and then interface with the internet and also the user. Based on that I have produced a block diagram of the system operation.

    So in essence the hardware will be similar, however a MCU will also be incorporated to interface with the LCD and HTTP stack.

  • Sensor Networking - Design & Considerations

    Matt Coates04/16/2015 at 21:40 0 comments

    This project aims to create a modified mesh network of small sensors, placed in water sources across developing areas, in order to effectively monitor the water quality in the region.

    Firstly I'm going to talk about the sensors themselves.

    These are small low power devices located at a water source. The electrode is submerged allowing the device to monitor water purity. This is carried out using a current sense circuit that measures the conductance of the water. The raw data is captured and sent over long range Wi-Fi connection to the next node, finally reaching the monitoring station. Readings are taken at regular intervals set through the RTC, allowing the node to be in deep sleep when not in use. This should allow for a long battery life. The block diagram can be seen below.

    The SoC in question is the ESP8266. I have decided to choose this device for 3 main reasons:
    • No MCU - The SoC can run custom LUA scripts that will utilise the on-board GPIO and ADC to read the sensor data
    • Range - With line of sight the module was tested to just under 5km using a large enough antenna, a standard duck antenna yields a range of around 500m, either way this is not a SoC dependant factor.
    • Cost - This SoC is low cost, at around $2 per system.
    • Support - This module is rather 'hot' right now and has its own forum and site dedicated to supporting it, more than most.

    Now moving on to the network itself, I have produced a graphic outlining the operation.

    I think the diagram speaks for itself really. Obviously in remote Africa an internet connection isn't exactly common, however employing this method of networking, we can utilise a chain of point to point connections to transmit data over large distances, with all information ending up at a central monitoring station, whereby an internet connection can be established.

    This will allow us to effectively monitor large remote areas for water purity and analyse data over long periods of time. All processing will be done by the monitoring station, the sensor will just transmit it's raw data. Obviously it will be linked to the cloud allowing multiple stations to contribute to a wider overall picture of the water quality in the region.

    Thanks for reading, please leave any comments below!

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Rosmianto Aji Saputro wrote 11/08/2015 at 01:07 point

Hi Matt! I love your project. It was tagged with 'ESP8266', would you really use it? In the diagram it will use coin cell, I don't think it would even work. Coin cell wouldn't be able to deliver enough current to your ESP8266. I used Li-Ion battery instead.


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Tamara Gagliardi wrote 07/27/2015 at 07:11 point

Are there any updates on how the data will be processed? I assume that being a mesh network and depending on having node relay the information from one node to the next until reaching the base/central hub you will have to somehow have a way to aggregate that data and later parse it or identify which node that data came from along as the time/data to avoid any gaps in data retrial. 


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P Wadsworth wrote 06/29/2015 at 15:17 point

This has gone through several versions over the years-- do you have a business plan? or maybe a pitch deck, I know of resources to help raise some capital--there are a few issues that you need to address. There is a company, Yellow Canary (that had DARPA funding, that makes a quality Mass Spec (size of a pack of smokes that is pretty solid. 

The first job of evaluating any well, is the history, and finding what aquifer it belongs to, thiswill help identify theprocess that the contamination will spread. 

It looks like you've done good work, please feel free to contact me for advice. 

There is money to be found in california and the pacific south west (most of Mexico and Brazil, greatest amount of money will be California-- you could apply this model to water ways, and use it to identify points of contamination )a lottle easier to deploy.

-pete w

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