This amazing sculpture of laser-cut wood and electronics is an Eggduino, created by the folks at Microduino to monitor vulture nests. According to IEEE Spectrum, this project is aimed at understanding breeding behavior as vulture populations have been declining. As a birder, I can tell you typical discussions in the field are about success stories of breeds being saved or disappointing stories of endangered birds. Vultures happen to be an important part of the food chain as garbage collectors and they can even help prevent disease. So, they are well worth saving. The International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) approached Microduino for this project when they realized that a normal Arduino wasn’t going to cut it in the nest. They wanted something small enough to conceal in an egg which wouldn’t be alarming to a mother bird. They also wanted to monitor an array of environmental readings of the nest, which would be transmitted to a relay station and uploaded to the cloud. Microduino has an amazing collection of stackable tiny duinos, but the real challenge was power consumption. The ICBP insisted that the nests couldn’t be disturbed for 70 days, making it impossible to switch batteries. So, the system got some tweaks.
We reapportioned the division of labor among the three elements of our system: Data processing and storage responsibilities were shifted to the data-relay terminal to reduce the egg’s power consumption.
The final egg made of laser sintered nylon contains a Microduino core, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) module, and a multisensor 10DOF module. Fourteen temperature sensors cover the entire inner-shell surface, along with a humidity sensor.
Keeping in mind that nests can’t be disturbed, Microduino created data relay terminals which can be posted nearby for researchers to access. They also contain some favorites like a Raspberry Pi, a Microduino Core+, a Bluetooth module, a real-time clock (RTC) module, and a weather station module. The weather station allows climate information from outside the nest to be gathered as well, adding a nice complement to the data. I must say that the data is one of the most amazing parts of this project. Check out the software which allows researchers to examine the surface temperature of the eggs.
When people ask me what is so great about Arduino, I often tell them that it starts with fun experimentation that leads to practical and scientific uses. It seems like Microduino feels the same way.
It was an honor to apply our technologies and efforts to such an important cause, and it’s gotten us thinking about other potential environmental applications for Microduino. It’s sometimes easy to get wrapped up in engineering and tinkering for its own sake, but it’s important to remember that even a hobby can be used to make a real positive change in the world around us.
So, if you already have been tinkering with Arduino, why not elevate your knowledge with an IoT project. Check out our Microsoft Azure Starter Kit with Feather Huzzah, our newest microcontroller with WiFi capability. It comes with a bunch of parts including LEDs, a servo, sensors (including temp./humidity, motion, vibration, and light). There’s also an assortment of switches, a piezo and enough wires to keep you at a breadboard for a while. The bonus is that you get to learn about Microsoft’s Azure services through their tutorial on a Remote Monitoring Solution, especially meant for this kit. Find out how IoT can bring you and data even closer.
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