Instructables

Web Based Water Metering with ioBridge

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After the real-time power meter project I did back in January, the next logical step seemed to be an ioBridge based water meter. Lets face it, power conservation isn't going to save the planet on it's own. There are plenty of resources besides electrical power that each of us use on a daily basis. All these resources have a measurable impact on the environment and our bank accounts. Reducing consumption benefits us all.

I grew up in the country where our water was supplied by a well. Conservation was easy back then: if we used too much water, the well ran dry. These days my water comes from city. The water doesn't run out if I shower too long, but I still want to save water (and save money) when I can.

This project was a little easier than the power meter in terms of technical skills but it did require some basic plumbing know-how. The concept is simple enough: I installed a water meter on my home's incoming water line which flips a switch for each gallon of water traveling thought it. The switch creates electrical pulses that are are counted by an ioBridge module. The data is tracked by ioBridge.com using their free web based data logging service.

My plan was to do this over a weekend, but it only really took about an hour or two. I think I spent more time at the hardware store picking out the proper fittings and adapters than actually installing the stuff.

Hardware and Tools required:

DLJSJ75C Water Meter
IO-204 ioBridge Module
teflon plumbing tape
assorted plumbing fittings
2-conduction wire, about 20 ft.
PVC primer and cement
hacksaw (for cutting the pipe)
soldering Iron
 
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Step 1: Figuring out where to put the water meter

My house is in a flood plain (more specifically, it's in a Florida swamp). Therefore, my house is built on stilts. This made it incredible easy to access the water main. It was fastened to one of the cinder-block posts supporting the house. All I needed was a straight section after the main water shut-off valve to install the new meter. After removing a bit of insulation, I had my straight section to work with.
watermet4 years ago
i like the idea of water conservation. Reading your water meter greatly assist in water meter conservation and we all know Florida is low on water supply in the winter months.

http://www.water-meter-guide.com


wakefiec4 years ago
Does anyone know of a source for a more sophisticated gadget/widget that could support the iobridge digital count log and provide more of the features in the Google power meter gadget?

This instructable got me started on water and electricity monitoring - first I got a TED5000 for electricity (added powermeter gadget to my igoogle page) Then got the iobridge and started logging my water usage (the digital meter had been installed while implementing a whole house shutoff valve).  Today I added my iobridge widget added to my igoogle page as a gadget.  Sitting above the Google power meter it suffers badly by comparison.
Meter Gadgets.jpg
The water chart is a bar graph with wide bars for the histogram. The chart is also all JavaScript, no flash. So this means it works on smartphones like the iPhone and Android rather well. To me, although biased, it looks good.

What do want updated?
I don't know what (if any) parts of the Google Powermeter are not Java-script but I would love to see a time scale on the x-axis (with a vertical grid too) and the ability to switch from a day to a week or month view. 

I can't believe the Google guys haven't cloned their powermeter into a watermeter.  Perhaps a collaboration with iobrigde and Google could yield some fruit.  I know the TED meter guys have something worked out so that their device can feed data to Google's Powermeter.

And on a side note - why can't an end consumer get a device that reads the counts from our existing meters that already contain radio transmitters - all very proprietary. - just me grousing :-)
justn4 years ago
Is there any reason why you couldn't use an arduino instead of the ioBridge?
jasonT (author)  justn4 years ago
I suppose you could figure out how to log data points with any microcontroller.  Although, most microcontrollers lack an easy way to push data to a database for archiving or use that data to embed charts in web pages.  I used ioBridge because it allowed me to put the project together in an hour instead of spending weeks writing code for an ethernet shield.  I guess it's all in what you're comfortable with, how much time you want to put in and what parts you have lying around. 
justn jasonT4 years ago
That's true. I'm just hesitant to plop down more money on another mcu. I should have read up more on the ioBridge first, it's definitely a more capable system for this type of project.
costap5 years ago
I just got my setup up and running. Does anyone know how I can make the IOBridge log/graph available without having to log into the website each time? I would like to be able to share the data but I don't want to have to share my login.
Foxtrot705 years ago
This is an excellent project. I live in central Iowa and we pay for water on a tiered schedule. The first 3,000 is $42 then $7 per 1,000. If you use less than the 3,000 you loose it as there is no carry over to the next month. By using this kind of device you can keep track of your usage or lack there of. As to IG-88's comment on a government entity, it is already being done thru our pocket books. What better way to get immediate public response. Not only do we save money but, it is also a GREEN item that folks can see in real time their impact.
IG-88 Foxtrot705 years ago
Oh, I agree that on a technical sense it's a pretty cool project. But seeings as I don't buy into this whole "Green" or "Save the Planet" FAD, I disagree with that part of it. Explain how it's done thru our pocketbooks? I like the idea about being away from the house and able to monitor it. But then again if your worried about it just shut it off. And If you want to save money on your water bill, don't use as much :P
luckyinga IG-885 years ago
IG-if we don't work at saving our water for the next generation who will? Check out my product that can show you how you can save water and it will show in your pocketbook. This device can be installed on any standard toilet and costs 10% of what the new toilets are selling for. Check us out at www.greenflush.net.
Foxtrot70 IG-885 years ago
IG - Another aspect of the project is roof rainwater collection. The biggest benefit is it's FREE. It is also relatively unpolluted and it is "Soft Water" no minerals. Some states counties and cities, in the west I think, will fine you for doing this as you are diverting water from the water table. Give me a break! As the the "Green" or "Save the Planet" items I have seen on PBS for example suggest that humans are having a negative effect. I will grant you that according to ice core samples warming and cooling seem to be cyclical. I think that we can do better. I really take exception to the first Presiden Bush when he termed it as "Voo-Doo Science". If we, humanity as a whole does nothing, at what point of gasping for a clean breath of air does humanity do anything? Personally I have more confidence in the men and women of science, who are not paid off in some way, devoting their lives to a project than to politicians we elect every 4 to 6 years who devote their lives to the taking advantage of the general public.
IG-88 Foxtrot705 years ago
I've often wondered about collecting rain off the roof. Most roofs are made of asphalt tho, not to mention bird or other animal droppings. How "clean" could it be?? Good for the garden maybe but not potable....
Foxtrot70 IG-885 years ago
Hello IG You are correct about the contamination with bird and other animal droppings, asphalt shingles are another issue. The most likely best roof would be a galvanized or color iodized metal roof. The idea here is if you are in a rain cycle of a few days let the rain from the first day wash the roof, then start collection. The water can be sterilized by boiling then aeration to restore fresh taste and also filtering thru charcoal, not the processed kind that has lighter fluid in it. The idea here is to have no chemicals in it. Charcoal chunks or pieces are usually not processed with any lighting fluids. When filtering thru charcoal it is like a Brita Water filter. Initially take a 5 gallon plastic bucket fill with charcoal chunks. Have a drain in the bucket and section off the bucket so that the water is forced to pass thru the charcoal. Run about 5 - 10 gallons thru it initially it will charcoal particles at first and then get cleaner. The water should have a really clean taste.
jasonT (author)  IG-885 years ago
I hate to say it, but I'm more interested in saving money. Although, I am happy that by conserving resources I'm helping rather than hurting. You may think that a Florida swamp is the last place to be concerned about water conservation. We have droughts here too. As a matter of fact, during the winter months, it rarely rains at all. Florida, Georgia and Alabama are locked in a struggle for the limited supply of freshwater in the southeast. Florida needs the water, but Georgia doesn't want to give up too much because they need it too.

I'm using the water readings to get a better understanding of how much water is really needed for my vegetable garden. I'm trying to balance out saving money by growing my own food versus the added expense of the water.
Jason - Another area you might try is collection of rain water via roof down spouts. (In some states, be sure to check yours, believe it or not the cities, counties, or the state will fine you for divertion of water from the water table.) The benefit of the collection is...IT'S FREE, next...IT'S UNPOLLUTED unless someone decides to do a nuclear bomb test.
luckyinga5 years ago
We have just recieved our patent-pending on a new toilet system that can flush your toilet using only one gallon of water. This not only saves water but can save on your septic system and if you use a well pump can save on your electric bill. This is a new product and although the website is still being built you can visit us at www.greenflush.net. This product is guaranteed to save you water on your next water bill and pay for itself in just a short time. This product is for sale now. Please check out our website. Have a great day!!
costap5 years ago
Great project. Does anybody know of something similar that can monitor your natural gas usage?
Why can't you use some of that swamp water? It's just going to waste (no pun intended).
tslmaxey5 years ago
I agree with velcro2. It seems that either IoBridge or some other source could be used to send an alert when water peaks...great for when traveling...or any time you are away. I love this!
velcro25 years ago
Jason T. This is a great idea and Instructable. Awhile back there was a woman in the Puget Sound Area of WA and she had a water line down to her dock at the lake shore. She got a shock when she received her water bill for several thousand dollars. She had a major water leak in the pipe and it was filling up the lake and she had no idea of what happened. Often water leaks go undetected until they show extensive visible damage. It would be great to view current water consumption to see any unusual spike in consumption.
IG-885 years ago
Nice. Do you really want someone monitoring how much water you use? Whats next? Having some government entity telling you that you are flushing your toilet too much?