From a Flower to the Internet

This page describe the project presented during the Summer School of Science S3++ at Požega in 2016.
All the code, reports and presentation produced for this project is accessible here:
https://github.com/keomabrun/S3_2016

DSC_0197_small
The final prototype

Description

The Internet is a tool that can help to solve million of issues. Like any tool, one have to understand the way it works to use it efficiently in order to solve his problems. What makes Internet so different from other tools is that it can be shaped and adapted for many different usage. With off-the-shelf and home-made products, participants will create their own “Smart Flower” and connect it to the Internet. In a step-by-step realistic approach, they will tackle the Internet challenges and understand how it works.

Aims

What is the problem you are going to solve? / What will be the challenge in this project?

I will be honest and say that this project is more about understanding all the different steps of an experimentally oriented research than about really solving a scientific problem.

However, I can say something like that:
Reproducibility is not enough addressed in current research works. Participants will prove that a research study can be done and produce reproducible results.

What is the final result you will get? / What will you try to accomplish in the end?

We will build an end-to-end system, built with off-the-shelf (or home made) products that can produce data and publish it to the Internet. This system will be composed of the following items:

  • An home-made soil moisture sensor connected to a plan (in the soil).
  • A communication system the sensor to retrieve the sensor data.
  • A self-hosted server that make the data accessible from the Internet

In other words, we will present a web-interface with nice graphs showing the humidity in the plant soil. If the project goes well and the participants are wiling to work in this direction, we will add more sensors such as temperature or solar radiation or event actuators to regulate the soil humidity automatically.

Project Course

Theoretical concepts
Which scientific/theoretical concepts will be covered in this project?

1. What is Internet ?

  • History
  • Main concepts
  • Challenges

2. How can we contribute ? (Self-Hosting)

  • Existing mechanisms (protocols)
  • Existing tools (software)

3. What data to produce ?

  • How to build a sensor ?
  • How can the sensor communicate ?
Why is learning these concepts important for the course of the project?

1 and 2: We have to understand what is Internet and how it works before we can contribute.

3: Choosing the right communication is crucial when designing a product. We will cover the different communication possibilities and choose the best one for our system.

Experiments performed
Which experiments will be done?

Participants will build there own humidity sensor.
We will study the different communication approaches and study their behaviors for our solution.

Brief description (1 – 2 sentences) in which you answer the following questions: What is the method about? Why are you using it? What will the participants learn from this method that is important for the course of the project?

We will use a bottom-up approach where the participants will start from a simple interface and a single sensor and end with fully controlled management system. The bottom-up approach is important as it will allow participants to easily debug and test their system while improving it. A good production methodology is important in research for reproducibility and determinism.

Benefits for participants
Why should this project be on the School?

Participants will learn all the steps of an environmental monitoring system, from the technical point of view to the ethical one. I hope that this project can be an open-minder for their future achievements.

What will the participants gain from this project?

Participants will be able to reproduce this project and build home-made monitoring systems by themselves. This will help them during their furthers studies and personal projects as it will allow them obtain significant and reproducible results.

Security risks

The only potential risk I see comes from the soldering. A detailed explanation on how to avoid burns will be given to the participants.

We will only work with very law current, there is no electric security issue in this project.

Backup plan
In some cases it will be necessary to design a backup plan, in case of possible problems and complications with the execution of the project.

Participant will build their own soil moisture sensor. If their can not make it on time, we will use existing sensors.

All the work will be done in advance to make sure we arrive at a simple working system in the worst case.

If the participants make faster progress then expected in the course of the project, which extra work is planned in that case?

As this is an incremental project, the end system can grow without limit !

Possible improvements are:

  • Comparing home-made sensor with off-the-shelf one
  • Building more sensors
  • Using different communication types
  • Improve system security