Monday, November 7, 2011

Lake Sensor Project: Software

I'll admit that my software experience is pretty limited- mostly some classes way back in college. Not that this sensor package is anything terribly complicated by any standard, but it's been a nice learning experience. It's also been challenging, especially with a new crying baby and lack of sleep making concentrating on a new subject difficult!

So, at the moment the sensor package is transmitting data just fine. Originally I wanted the sensor package to transmit a packet of data only when requested. This worked fine when I had the PC and the Arduino directly connected via a USB cable, but this didn't seem to work with an XBee wireless module sending the data through the ether. I'm sure this is an easy problem to solve, but my limited web surfing didn't track down an obvious solution. To work around this I decided to have the sensor package continuously transmit data, at least for now.

The picture above is the raw data being fed into my laptop, after been wirelessly sent from the lake sensor to the XBee module. As you can see, it's just a list of numbers currently, delimited by commas. Here is what they are:

ultrasonic sensor, ping time to lake surface and back in milliseconds,  water temperature in degrees C (obviously not right, something needs to be fixed there), photocell resistance (lower numbers = darker), air temp in degrees C, relative humidity.

The next steps are:
  1. write some code to import this data into a usable form (probably using the free language Processing). Make Magazine seems to have a great tutorial on this.
  2. convert data into proper form- millisecond ping data into lake level in feet above sea level, temps converted into degrees F, etc.
  3. send the data into a google docs spreadsheet
  4. send to Mooney Lake association website

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