Aquametric Brings River Monitoring in Real-Time Without Being Invasive

This DIY device uses off-the-shelf components to provide live data on stream and river conditions like stage, temperature, and conductivity.

Streams and rivers are crucial components of any ecosystem and carry water, organisms, important gases, and nutrients for wildlife and humans alike. Currently, in the US, the USGS has the most extensive collection of river monitoring devices (around 10,000) deployed throughout the country. While the monitoring stations are designed for accuracy, they can cost up to thousands of dollars and don’t cover areas near urban/rural areas, where flooding can happen from nearby streams.

To get around those issues, high school student Rohan Menon has developed a smaller, more portable river/stream measuring device that can be deployed in broad areas, including those near people’s homes. His Aquametric cellular-based system is outfitted with a JSN SR04T ultrasonic distance sensor, which measures river gauge — hydrometric measurements of water levels and quality. It also packs temperature and conductivity sensors to garner other aquatic data.

All of the information is processed in real-time by a Particle Electron 3G board, which uses a cellular data connection to transmit the data to a server that then can be accessed from a browser. All the electronics are housed inside a 3D-printed enclosure and powered by 15 AA batteries. The Aquametric also features an Arduino that controls the power to the Particle module, allowing it to enter a deep sleep mode and activate in one-hour intervals.

The software driving the Aquametric consists of two parts- an embedded platform that runs the sensors, which uses minimal power to do so, and a web server, which collects the data and can be accessed via an interactive website. Menon has uploaded a detailed walkthrough of his project, including links to software and 3D printing files, for those who would like to recreate his build.

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