General help on measuring the snow height using an ultrasonic sensor

Dear Arduino-Fellows,

I am thinking about purchasing following ultrasonic range sensor, which should be a bit more accurate than the standard SR04: https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1057.html?search=URM07&description=true

For my democase, I would like to measure the height of snow and I have a few questions:

  1. Do you recommend temperature calibration for the speed of sound?
  2. What is the exact error of the sensor. In the datasheet it reads 1% but is it relative to full scale (750cm) or relative to the reading (for 100cm=1cm error).
  3. What is the radiation angle for the ultrasonic sound? Do you have any hints on how the sensor will behave with snow, will it just work like for any other material?

Thank you!

I started off with entering the words "URM07" into a search engine, which led me to entering the words "URM07 datasheet" which led me to this link https://media.digikey.com/pdf/Data%20Sheets/DFRobot%20PDFs/SEN0153_Web.pdf.

Right off the bat I read

so using a DFRobot URM07 built-in temperature sensor, you can read the ambient temperature, and automatically calculate temperature compensation. The sensor uses an integrated ultrasonic probe with a detection angle of approximately 60° in a compact and lightweight unit.

, which leads me to conclude that if I am going to use this device in changing temperature situations, yes calibrate and answers the radiation angle question. You should be able to answer more questions from looking at the data sheet and so forth and so on.

Idahowalker: I started off with entering the words "URM07" into a search engine, which led me to entering the words "URM07 datasheet" which led me to this link https://media.digikey.com/pdf/Data%20Sheets/DFRobot%20PDFs/SEN0153_Web.pdf.

Right off the bat I read{quote] so using a DFRobot URM07 built-in temperature sensor, you can read the ambient temperature, and automatically calculate temperature compensation. The sensor uses an integrated ultrasonic probe with a detection angle of approximately 60° in a compact and lightweight unit. , which leads me to conclude that if I am going to use this device in changing temperature situations, yes calibrate and answers the radiation angle question. You should be able to answer more questions from looking at the data sheet and so forth and so on.

You seem to be an extremely smart person :)! Thank you! I am aware of the temperature calibration formula, I'd just like to ask you for suggestions based on your praxis. You don't seem to have much with ultrasonic sensors.

Snow is mostly air. Fresh snow moreso. It won't reflect sound like a solid surface.

I would use an optical sensor. Maybe a bit more expensive but it "sees" what you see.

mbobinger: . You don't seem to have much with ultrasonic sensors.

I operated and worked on, in the past, SONAR, equipment.

I did make an ultrasonic 'imaging' thingy that ran well for a bit more then a year before I switched over to using LIDAR.


Me, if I was to make a snow level detector, I'd use the method used by SNOTEL sites.

A more trustworthy measurement is called Snow Liquid Equivalent (SWE), which shows the amount of liquid that would be present if you melted a column of snow. The way that SWE is measured is truly ingenious. A large rubber bladder is filled with antifreeze liquid and placed on the ground. As snow accumulates on the rubber bladder, the weight of the snow presses down and forces some anti-freeze liquid out of the bladder and through a measurement tube. Scientists correlate the amount of anti-freeze forced out of the bladder with the weight of the snow above. This measurement is usually very accurate, but it does not provide the exact data skiers are looking for. Skiers can estimate new snowfall by multiplying the change in SWE by about 15, which is an average snow-to-liquid ratio for western states. For example, if SWE increased by 0.5 inches during a storm, this could mean about 7.5 inches of new snow (15 x 0.5 = 7.5). For heavier, wetter snow, multiply by about 10. For drier, fluffier snow, multiply by about 20.

I do not think that measuring snow is the best use of an ultrasonic device due to, in the least, environmental conditions.

MorganS: Snow is mostly air. Fresh snow moreso. It won't reflect sound like a solid surface.

I would use an optical sensor. Maybe a bit more expensive but it "sees" what you see.

Dear MorganS, Thank you a lot for that experience. I am planning to use both sensors, i.e. ultrasonic and light now, for my project. There is a Swiss company that produces ultrasonic snow sensors: https://www.sommer.at/de/produkte/schnee-eis/schneehoehensensor-ush-9

This principle seems to work for ultrasound but I am not 100% convinced. Sadly, there's not yet snow here to check.