Question: Can commercially available water sensors work with DIY data loggers?

gretchengehrke is asking a question about data-logging
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by gretchengehrke | July 19, 2017 19:28 | #14667

Could the commercially-available sensors listed on this page: be hacked to be compatible with a low-cost data logger like those listed on this page:



It looks like some of the sensors in the Water Sensor wiki could be hacked to work with an Arduino based data logger, but you would want to be an electrical engineer before you agreed to try it.

For some of the sensors, this question does not apply. For example the analog secchi disk or pH strips.

For some of the sensors a data logger is integrated into the device, so there is not much reason to hack anything, e.g., the HOBO Onset loggers.

Some of those sensors are lab bench instruments and are not suitable for field use, e.g., the devices which accept a cuvette full of water for measuring turbidity. There does not seem to be a good reason to hack these to do anything else.

Some of the sensors are just sensors, but they are designed to work while wired to a particular device which supplies power and displays a result. These could be hacked to send data to an Arduino, but my guess is that an electrical engineer would be needed.

Some are sensors with a built-in display. An electrical engineer might be able to send the data to an Arduino instead of to the display. But these devices do not seem to be built to survive outdoor deployment.

Some of the sensors apparently send data via bluetooth to a computer. These could be hacked to send data to a field Arduino-based data logger. But these sensors seem to be lab devices and might not be adaptable for field use.

I looked at about a third of the sensors at the wiki and did not see any that gave me any hope that I could connect them to an Arduino-based data logger. But I am not an electrical engineer.

Public Lab has hired a lot of new people lately. It did not escape my notice that none of these people was an electrical engineer.

To find sensors that might work with an Arduino-based data logger, search for sensor at Sparkfun or Adafruit. The product descriptions will usually tell you what you need to know about compatibility with microcontrollers. If you find something good, search for it on ebay to find sellers of clones from Asia for half the price. Then if you really have a goal of accomplishing good things with environmental sensors, maybe hire an electrical engineer.


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That's true Chris @cfastie! You read through to the heart of my internal question on this too: is it worth it to try to hack commercially available sensors to do something beyond / different from what they were produced to do, and I appreciate your candor in spelling out that the answer is probably no. Thank you for that. Cheers!

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