It’s an exciting time for citizen science this month as Public Lab announced the completion of their DIY water monitoring kit, the Riffle. Their community helps people to monitor environmental issues like water quality using open source hardware, as well as other investigation techniques. This particular kit uses an Arduino compatible board (Atmel 328p) that has been designed to fit nicely in an ordinary water bottle. Public Lab’s design philosophy makes use of that least common denominator idea, and water bottles are pretty easy to find around the world. They are also easy to deploy in a stream, well or other local waterway for measuring baseline data like temperature, depth, conductivity and turbidity.
You can check out the details of their design philosophy, which includes proto boards, plenty of code examples on Github as well as suggestions for sensor uses. The beauty of Public Lab is that they believe in open sourcing everything, so their site is an interesting read including post-it style notes from field testers, thoughtful brain dumps on future hardware needs, a sharing of challenging environmental problems around the world and a few jokes about good food for gatherings. That’s what happens when you bring scientists, engineers and environmentally concerned people together—check out my past post on visiting their east coast LeafFest.
The Riffle kit is available now through March 16th on Public Lab’s site. As with most open source projects, it continues to expand. People have been experimenting with alternative sites like compost piles, trying new methane sensors and exploring cell phone connectivity for texts using the Adafruit Fona. Finding ways to make environmental monitoring affordable is a great use of open hardware skills. So, if you are an Arduino lover, make your way to Public Lab to share your knowledge and help people explore the issues in their backyards.
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