Saturday, September 14, 2013

Live Data from the Mara River!

We are proud to announce that we now have real-time water level information from the Mara River at Purungat Bridge uploaded to the internet every 30 minutes!  This data is now available on our "Mara Live" page as a graph and at the top right of every page as a gauge tied to the environmental flow assessment recommendations.  The yellow and red areas on the gauge correspond to water levels that are below the environmental flow requirements.  When water drops below these levels, the river ecosystem begins to deteriorate.  Now, everyone can see what's going on with the river as it happens!  

The impetus for this project was our general unhappiness with the cost of water quality/quantity equipment.  This motivated us to design our own gear to do exactly what we want.  This system cost us under $400 to make and it only costs about $5 per month for the cellular service.  If we had purchased a similar system with these features, it would have cost us well over $2000 and up to $100 per month!  The best part about this unit is that it is open source.  

A big thanks goes out to the Yale Center for Engineering, Innovation and Design. We worked with four bright Yale undergrads -- Teddy Weisman, Travis Leighton, Kendrick Kirk and Bryan Duerfeldt -- to develop the first prototype of this design through a course taught by Eric Dufresne, Larry Wilen and Laura Chavez.

The Yale students designed the housing for the unit mounted at the Purungat Bridge, which uses a water filtration pump housing. We installed a second unit on the Talek River that is housed inside of a Pelican Case.  

The entire system is based off an open source microcontroller, Arduino.  We also have some other water quality/quantity measurement devices that we have built using an Arduino that we'll be talking about in the coming weeks.   

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