Public Lab Research note

Photosynq - measuring plant health across the world

by gbathree | March 27, 2013 02:06 27 Mar 02:06 | #6552 | #6552

Hey everyone, I'd like to announce a new project we're working on in the Kramer Lab at MSU. We're creating a platform (tools + software + environment) with the goal of creating a global, open access database of plant health and photosynthesis information taken in the field. Details are in the link below. We're really looking forward to collaborating with others in the Public Lab community as we develop a first testable unit!



That's awesome. The Teensy was a good choice (even if the bootloader isn't FOSS) and Paul Stoffregen, the Teensy developer, is a really great guy who will help answer questions if you get stuck. Not that I'm biased-- Paul's a member of Dorkbot PDX, my electronics club ;)

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Awesome! Yes, actually one of the reasons we're going with the Teensy is precisely because of Paul. I've never met him but I've never seen a single individual put so much support behind a single product as he has on his forum, and he's prolific in adding features and responding to users.

Thanks for the confirmation that we're not crazy :)


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Sorry, this looks really cool, but what is the device pictured above? Is that a cuvette in it, or a prism or what? Could we emulate the sensor with one of our DIY spectrometers? Maybe an interesting opportunity to share data


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Yes, it's a little confusing - that's actually one of the hurdles is to quickly and easily explain what this does, and how it works (the how it works part is toughest I think). You can read about plant fluorescence (one of the main measurements we're interested) here - .

So that's not a cuvette, it's a light guide (it's actually just a piece of 3/8'' acrylic cut small and polished on the end). The light guide directs light from the LEDs to the sample, and then back from the sample to the detector. In the next few posts I'll try to get some clearer 3D pictures and explanation of how it works. The best place to get more info for now is from the website and our project tracking page on - .

I'd love to try to get the measurement in other instruments, or pull more sensors into our instrument. Some measurements that we'd like to take (like absorbance) require both specific components and pretty tight tolerances. But other measurements, like fluorescence, may be able to more easily be attached to other instruments.

I LOVE the spectral workbench software. Our goal is to connect our instrument to a cell phone, and the put all of the data in a database and display it similar to what you've done. We'd love to be able to share data in a similar way - if you've got any thoughts on ways to do that I'd love to hear it!

In the next few weeks, we'll have a truly functional handheld unit which communicates through Serial and we can start getting some data, and I'll work on better explaations Hopefully that'll help, but if there's any way to collaborate we're all about it!


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