The Christina River Basin Critical Zone Observatory is developing and deploying an advanced sensor network for real-time observations of hydrological and biogeochemical processes.
These sensors range from basic meteorological and hydrological sensors that can be widely deployed at low cost, to advanced commercial field-instrumentation such as submersible UV-Vis spectrometry, to home-made geochemical sensors constructed from readily available electronic components.
We are beginning to participate in the emerging open-source hardware movement to further the development of environmental sensors. Visit the CRB-CZO sensor blog at czo.stroudcenter.org/sensors.
Implementing a large scale sensor deployment for watershed assessment has previously been limited by the high cost of the datalogging and communication infrastructure.
The Christina River Basin Critical Zone Observatory (CRB-CZO) is overcoming the obstacles to large near-real-time data collection networks by using Arduino, an open source electronics platform, in combination with XBee ZigBee wireless radio modules.
The open-source nature of Arduino means the cost is extremely low compared to similar commercial electronics options.
By significantly decreasing the cost of the datalogging and communication hardware, resources can be focused on installing more sensors for greater spatial coverage.
Researchers, students, and individuals can easily build and deploy inexpensive dataloggers without the need for electronics experience, complicated software, or specialized tools. Dozens of low cost boards allow even novice users to build devices using boards that connect in a modular framework.
We believe that using open-source electronics hardware for watershed instrumentation will transform our ability to deploy sensors, field instruments, and other electronic “eyes and ears” to unprecedented levels. High quality commercial sensors are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Easy customization of the Arduino node interface hardware and software means virtually any sensor can be used.
Other custom devices such as a remote streamwater sampling system and a multi-chamber respirometer controller can be built using the same type of Arduino microprocessor boards. See Gallery below for examples.
Arduino Electronics Platform
Online Resources, Tutorials, Products
Xbee ZigBee Radio Modules
The information in this page was presented at the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. View the poster in the Associated Files section below.
Custom devices such as a remote streamwater sampling system and a multi-chamber respirometer controller can be built using open-source Arduino microprocessor boards. For wireless sensor network ideas, designs, and source code, visit the CRB-CZO sensor blog.
Hicks et al. 2011, AGU poster
(1 MB pdf)
Sensor Networks, Dataloggers, and Other Handy Gadgets Using Open-Source Electronics for the Christina River Basin CZO. Presented at the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union
Hicks et al. 2012, AGU poster
(2 MB pdf)
H11I-1285: Creative Uses of Custom Electronics for Environmental Monitoring at the Christina River Basin CZO. Presented at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union