Introduction: Make Your IoT Sensor Boxes - Air Quality, Water, Vehicles, Equipment, Assets, Pumps, Flowmeters - Remotely Monitor Anything With Solar Powered Internet of Things
You ready to make your own Industrial Internet of Things / IoT Sensor Boxes? You'll use IoT Sensor Devices and Hardware to make a water well monitoring box.
How healthy are your water wells and aquifers? How much water are you using? Is your aquifer recovering? What's your average pump rate, e.g., liters or gallons per minute? What's your water usage for the last 6 months?
You can answer all of those questions after you complete this Instructable!
Note: By following these instructions you can make a remote monitoring box that will monitor anything, anywhere. Whether you need to monitor:
- Air Quality
- Vehicles with Industrial Equipment
- Anything Else
All you'll need to do is switch up the sensors and/or add on additional sensors like air quality, O3 / Ozone, GPS, NOx / Nitrous Oxides, Metal Oxides, SO2 / Sulfur Dioide, NO2 / Nitrogen Dioxide, H2S / Hydrogen Sulfide, VOCs / Volatile Organic Compounds, Switches, water quality, pH, Total Dissolved Solids / TDS, Equipment Monitors, Radar or Ultrasonic Tank Level Sensors, really anything you need! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you've got any questions at Info@Valarm.net .
Specifically in this tutorial you'll see how 4-20mA and PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) standard sensors are used for effective water resources management by monitoring:
- Flowmeters for water usage monitoring
- Level sensors / pressure transducers for water well depths / aquifer health
Also note that these flowmeters, pressure transducers / level sensors, 4-20mA, and PWM technologies work for all kinds of fluids like oils, fertilizers, and more liquids, even those that foam.
Let's get started! :)
Step 1: Watch the Video!
DIY Making Solar-Powered IoT sensor monitoring units!
Watch the video to learn how to make boxes that do do remote telemetry and monitoring.
In this video you’ll learn how to make your own Industrial IoT remote monitoring boxes for doing sensor telemetry with Valarm. We’ll go step by step over the hardware you need and how to install and set it up for your long-term, remote deployments. See our other videos and our blog for more info on how to set up the Valarm software and use Valarm Tools Cloud at Tools.Valarm.net.
This video has a water monitoring box we made for an Industrial IoT customer in California. They’re a gigantic environmental consulting agency and monitor water, air, and other environmental factors around the United States. The Valarm box built in this video is used to monitor water wells. Water usage is monitored by flow meter sensors that count how much water is flowing through pipes. The water levels in the wells are monitored by pressure transducers or water level sensors that are installed deep down in the water well.
The steps in this video are very similar for any kind of monitoring you need to do. For example the solar charge controller, solar panel, battery, sensor hub, and all of that stay the same. You’ll just need to add the sensors specific to your Industrial IoT application like air quality, high tech transport vehicles with GPS, or any other sensors you have from Shop.Valarm.net
Step 2: Open Up Your IoT Box and Install Your Solar Charge Controller, Sensor Hub, and Battery
First open up your weatherproof box that will be your Valarm monitoring unit. In this case we’re using a NEMA outdoor box made by BUD Industries.
Next install your solar charge controller that charges your battery with solar power from the solar panels and provides power to your Valarm sensor hub and sensors. In this box we’re using a Morningstar Sunsaver – 6 solar charge controller.
At the bottom of the box attach your sealed lead acid (SLA) battery that will charge when the sun’s out and keep your Industrial IoT unit alive and reporting sensor data when there’s no sun.
Step 3: Drill Your Holes for Sensor Cables and Solar Panel Power
Now it’s time to make some holes for cable glands, a.k.a, strain relief connectors. These will keep your Valarm box weatherproof while letting critical cables in and out of the box like power cables and sensor cables.
Here we’ve marked 3 drill holes points for the 3 cable glands we need. 1 cable for the solar panel to connect to the solar charge controller. 1 cable to connect an external water flow meter to the PWM, or pulse-width modulation, sensor inside the box that counts ticks, pulses, or spins from the flowmeter.
Drill the appropriate number of holes you require for the amount of cables you need going in and out of your box. In the photos and video you see Valarm founder, CEO, and software engineer Lorenzo Gonzalez is using our trusty Milwaukee drill and a circular hole dozer saw easily create 3 holes for our cable glands.
Next install your cable glands so they’re nice and tight and will only let your cables in and keep out things you don’t want inside your box, like squirrels or bears.
Step 4: Crimping and Installing Your Sensor Adapters, 4-20mA, PWM, GSM Hubs, Flowmeters, Well Levels, Pressure Transducers, Solar Powered Batteries, and All That Fun Stuff
You’re ready to add your Industrial IoT sensors.
Here we’ve connected 2 Industrial IoT sensors to the GSM sensor hub. One is a 4-20 mA sensor adapter that connects to a water level sensor, a.k.a., pressure transducer, for remotely monitoring fluid depths like tank levels, volumes, or water wells. The other is a PWM sensor adapter that connects to a water flow meter to monitor water usage.
On the right side of the box you see a power converter that drops the power from the solar charge converter to 5V, which goes into the sensor hub to power the hub and attached sensors.
Crimp wires to connect your step down power converter to the Load part of your solar charge controller.
Last, crimp and connect wires to your sealed lead acid (SLA) battery and to your solar panel that’s outside of the box getting a tan, bathing in sunshine.
Step 5: Plug It In! Connect Your Water, Fluid, Air Quality, VOCs, PM2.5, Vehicle, Tank, Any Other Sensors and Fire It Up!
Connect your sensors like the flow meter and pressure transducer you see here. With Tools.Valarm.net you can use sensors from any hardware manufacturer, like Flowline, Alphasense, Yoctopuce, or Eno Scientific.
Once everything’s screwed down then fire it up! You’ll see the various lights turn on on the sensor hub, sensors, power converter, and solar charge converter.
Double check and verify that your solar charge controller says your battery is charged and green and that your solar panels are properly connected and charging your SLA battery.
Now you're good to go and ready to remotely monitor water and fluids.
That’s it! Here’s a full tour of the Valarm remote monitoring box you just built. This water monitoring unit uses 2 Industrial IoT sensors – a 4-20mA pressure transducer or water level sensor and a flow meter. Our customers most commonly use Flowline and In-Situ level sensors and pressure transducers and flowmeters made by McCrometer. These sensors have cables that go into the box and send the sensor values to the 4-20mA and PWM sensor adapters connected to the 3G GSM sensor hub.
On the left side of the box are the 4-20 mA and PWM sensor adapters from Shop.Valarm.net, which connect to the water sensors outside of the box that are deployed in the field.
Your sensors connect to your sensor hub via micro USB cables and power is controlled by the solar charge controller at the top of the box.
Now that’s really everything. Now you can link your Industrial IoT sensor box to Valarm Tools Cloud by using the Device Manager on Tools.Valarm.net and following our How To Instructions here for that if you haven't done it already.
Note: Remember that you can use this Instructable to remotely monitor anything, anywhere. You can even change the power system from solar panel power to standard mains 110V power for example. And you can switch out the water sensors for air quality, GPS, and add any additional IoT sensors you need for your deployments that's available at Shop.Valarm.net
Questions? Please don't hesitate to chat with me at Info@Valarm.net. And Thank you for reading, looking, and watching! :)
Runner Up in the
Green Electronics Contest 2016
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.