Dr. Beddow’s instrumentation class has been building the 2016 version of the Cave Pearl datalogger for more than three years, and feedback from that experience motivated a redesign to accommodate a wider range of student projects while staying within the time constraints of a typical lab-time schedule. The rugged PVC housing from the older build has been replaced with an inexpensive pre-made box more suitable for “light duty” classroom deployment. The tutorial includes a full set of youTube videos to explain the assembly. We hope this simplified build supports other STEM educators who want to add Arduino-based experiments to their own portfolio of activities that develop programming and “maker” skills.
While I loved the Nokia 5110 LCD’s readability in full sun, the pressure sensitivity was a real problem for the underwater units. So I started noodling around with some cheap OLED screens from eBay.
With the exception of the init & XY functions (which are more complicated on the 1306 controller) the rest of the code ported over from the Nokia screen with no changes at all. My guess at this point is that the shift-out method will work with most of the other cheap OLED screens, provided they don’t exceed the pin current limits implied by my method.
A visiting researcher dropped by our humble basement workshop with questions about the physical skill level students would need if they added one of our DIY data loggers to their environmental curriculum. I figured the easiest way to cover that was to simply build one, while they recorded the process.
The result of that 3 hour session is now available on YouTube
From the comments on our ChipKIT based weather station using BME280 sensor module post, Edward Mallon writes:
A lot of us have ended up at this sensor / screen combination. But I couldn’t afford the extravagance of six dedicated control lines on our little pro mini based loggers.
However with some slight modification, you can drive the Nokia 5110 LCD with only 3 control lines, and power the display from a digital pin
This post isn’t another How-To tutorial for a specific sensor because the Arduino community has already produced a considerable number of resources like that. You’d be hard pressed to find any sensor in the DIY market that doesn’t give you a dozen cookbook recipes to follow after a simple Google search. In fact, you get so many results from “How to use SensorX with Arduino” that beginners are overwhelmed because few of those tutorials help people decide which type of sensor suits their skill level. This post attempts to put the range of different options you can use with a Cave Pearl data logger into a conceptual framework, with links to examples that illustrate the ideas in text.
If you need a logger with a cheap durable housing, it’s still hard to beat the Dupont-jumper build released in 2016. But sometimes I need more of a bare-bones unit for bookshelf test runs while I shake down a new sensor. I can whip up a breadboard combo in about twenty minutes, but they can stop working if I bump one of the wires by accident. I’ve lost SD cards from this half way through a long term test, and I’ve also run into issues with noise & resistance from those tiny breadboard contact points.
To address this problem I’ve come up with a new configuration that uses a screw-terminal expansion shield originally intended for the Arduino Nano. This requires a modest bit of soldering, and after some practice, between 1-1.5 hours to finish depending on how many “extras” you embed.
Scott Harden writes, “I’m working on a project which requires I measure temperature via a computer, and I accomplished this with minimal complexity using a Bus Pirate and LM75A I2C temperature sensor.”
One only has to ship one or two things via a container, receiving them strangely damaged on the other end, before you start to wonder about your shipper. Did they open this box and sort of stomp around a bit? Did I perhaps accidentally contract a submarine instead of a boat? Did they take a detour past the sun? How could this possibly have melted?
[Jesus Echavarria]‘s friend had similar fears and suspicions about a box he is going to have shipped from Spain to China. So [Jesus] got to work and built this nice datalogger to discover the truth. Since the logger might have to go for a couple of months, it’s an exercise in low power design.
The core of the build is a humble PIC18. Its job is to take the information from an ambient light, temperature, and humidity sensor suite and dump it all to an SD card. Aside from the RTC, this is all powered from a generic LiPo power cell. The first iteration can run for 10 days on one charge, and that’s without any of the low power features of the microcontroller enabled. It should be able to go for much longer once it can put itself to sleep for a period.
It’s all housed in a 3D printed case with some magnets to stick it to shell of the shipping container. Considering the surprisingly astronomical price of commercial dataloggers, it’s a nice build!
Typical pro-mini loggers built with this design sleep at 0.25mA, before extra sensors are added. At that current draw, the logger should deliver approximately six months of operation on three brand new AA batteries with a 15min duty cycle; depending on sensor load.