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Sentrifarm - open hardware telemetry system for Australian farming conditions

Project: Sentrifarm

My friend is a farmer, who has various problems. Is it too dangerous to reap today? How cold did the soil in paddock 7 get last year? Which paddocks was the driest over the last three years, maybe I should run my sheep there instead? Do I really need to drive hundreds of kilometers every week and manually record all this information? Maybe we could look for correlations between the level of greenness in a photo of the paddock over time vs. the UV light over the same period?

Well, a farmer may not use the word 'correlation' but hopefully you get the point.

So together we decided to build a remote monitoring system, to see if we could solve some of these issues; and at the same time we entered it in the 2015 hackaday prize, because a t-shirt would be cool if we managed to win some :-) By the time LCA happens, we will know if we managed to win anything!

Sentrifarm collects and aggregates a wide variety of sensors, including weather, UV, and even smoke via MQTT and MQTT-SN protocols and made available for future data mining in an SQL database or display via OpenHAB or mobile device.

SentriFarm is built using long range radio modules, so we dont need to rely on the phone system, and variety of solar powered sensor nodes and aggregators - Raspberry Pi and Carambola2 modules running OpenWRT Linux, and microcontroller based nodes built with the Arduino-style TeensyLC and the amazing new ESP8286. The source code and schematics are on GitHub under open source licenses.

Why do we have all these different parts? Because this was built in a typical 'bush' style, using mostly modules we already had on hand, in a few hours each weekend. To minimise our production costs, I designed a circuit board that lets the long range radio modules to be used by any the Linux modules, the TeensyLC or the ESP8266, swiss army knife style.

For this prototype session, a working literal prototype of a multi-node SentriFarm system will be set up for demonstration and practical hands-on fiddling, along with a presentation and demo of various aspects of the open source software used and some of the problems we have had to solve.

Also, Internet of Things :-)

Andrew McDonnell

Andrew McDonnell is a professional software engineer with two decades experience. He spent some years before that hacking code, after receiving a Commodore 64 for Christmas at age 12. He has significant experience programming in C++, Java and Python and a multitude of scripting languages, and will try almost anything. Outside of family and work he sometimes has time to play with his collection of 8-bit and PC/XT-vintage computers; computing and electronics has always been his passion. In recent times he has managed to assemble a 3D printer and tinker with embedded systems, muttering about their lack of security. He intermittently maintains a blog at http://blog.oldcomputerjunk.net sometimes posting how he solved a problem in the hope it may be useful to someone else.
His aim for 2015 was to win a t-shirt from hackaday. By coming to his talk you can find out if he was successful!


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