UDD participated in a collective Water Hackathon at the Parson Design and Technology Lab, hosted by Internet of Things and Ushahidi.  The goal put our collective minds together and hack a robust low-cost water quality monitoring device. We worked with a great crew Lief Percifield of (Don’t Flush Me), John Feighery of m Water, and Joe Saavedra of IOT, and Ed Borden of Pachube to name a few.  Our recently purchased semi-technical guide on Arduino hacks specifically for environmental (http://amzn.to/H90Ke5) use provided the inspiration and spark for the creation of a working prototype water quality (electrical conductivity and temperature) sensor capable of real time data transmission to be designed and completed in 24 hours.

Sam L and Joe S planning.

Saturday morning, John Feighery of  m Water and I headed out to Radio Shack for a few instrumental parts and got to wiring, while Daniel Soto, Columbia U. Earth Institute Fellow hooked up the data jumper, got the code going and planned a calibration method to increase the sensor’s sensitivity. After some more Arduino,  solar panel wiring and a custom build shield by Lief P, Joe S. and the Ushahidi team with Sam L looking on, linked up our rough working prototype iva an ioio microcontroller for real time pushes to a mobile device.  Sweet! It was really a great 9 hours, a bit more for Lief and Joe.

On a Sunday morning we all convened at the Gowanus Canal.  Lief P. showed up with a nice shinning pelican box housing the sensor after some late night tweaks. and with the help of Gowanus Canal Dredgers Canoe Club we manned and woman-ed 6 canoes and the flotilla headed to our targeted CSO location.   The Gowanus Canal is on the EPA’s Super Fund site and therefore it is important to note that no illegal operations took place, and the GCDCC made sure we strictly adhered to rules and our test instrumentation was carefully installed.

Success! as we stabilized our flotilla against the freakish Gowanus current we got our reading transmitting, Conductivity of the brackish Gowanus 363 (resistance in Ohms).  Check out the live feed,  Pachube feed

Testing water samples for Arduino calibration

The entire collaborative process was instrumental for UDD and the others. We meet some great thinkers, scientists, hackers, crowdsourcing geniuses, activists and more. For us it proves our theory and supports our research moving forward with our invited 2nd round application for a Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Grant.  Yes! The Data Collection is doable at relatively low cost and can be citizen observed and reported.

Up Next:  Community volunteers for monitoring and survey data collection.
Special Thanks to John F. Joe S. and a shout out  Albert Chao for opening our eyes to the potential future use of ScraperWiki.

 

Leif showing the resultant handy work