Here's the high-wire act in which I describe the West Virginia University sensor-journalism project with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. This took place in a room of brilliant thinkers at Newsgeist 2015 earlier this month in Phoenix.
Yesterday the Streamlab class put do-it-yourself water monitors into Gatorade bottles and anchored them in the Monongahela River near Morgantown, West Virginia. They’re now texting their data readings live.
We’re sensing conductivity, which is a good indicator of dissolved solids in the water, and temperature. The locations are: upstream of an industrial site, downstream of the same site and further downstream below the Morgantown lock and dam.
A summer of tinkering has culminated with a conductivity and temperature sensor that texts its data from inside a Gatorade bottle.
The plan is to submerge several of these along a stretch of the Monongahela River as part of a sensor-journalism class at West Virginia University. It’s a work in progress, but you can [see how things are going]. My job was to build a working conductivity sensor that would report its findings live. Here are the components and how I made it go.
Update: We actually deployed some of these sensors in a river!
In just a few weeks, a class of journalism students will be wading into West Virginia streams to deploy water sensors.
They’ll be sensing water conductivity over several weeks using a cool, Arduino-like board called Riffle.
But the crux of the system is a simple circuit I tried for the first time tonight.
I always considered circuit boards like this something you bought, not something you made.
Not any more.
I actually helped to make the board in the picture above. And it was awesome fun.
The board is designed to monitor the conductivity (and, possibly, contamination) of water in lakes and streams, with the wonderful feature that it fits through the mouth of a regular water bottle. It’s called Riffle and it is the brainchild of Don Blair, who’s working with Public Lab and the MIT Center for Civic Media. This week I had the honor of working with Don at MIT.