Hardware Advice for Sensor Platform

Good Evening All,

I would like to get a sensor platform going, mostly for my RV and a friend's sailboat, that will allow capturing a bunch of voltages, log them locally to USB or SD card storage, and allow me to push the data out via cellular.

So, I obviously googled looking around for the right solutions and holy *** there is a lot of options. I'd like some of your opinions on which hardware you have tried and can recommend to achieve the following:

  • Preferably write to USB storage, but I would settle for SD cards as a second choice
  • Preferably LTE modem, but I would settle for 3G
  • As many analog inputs as possible
  • Ideally, capable of running from a 12.8v supply and be somewhat rugged and able to handle temperature extremes, but that can always come later
  • Onboard GPS would be great, too

So which base board would be wise to start my prototyping with? And which add-on boards do I want to use?

Meanwhile, I'm reading some great stuff on precise voltage measurement, which is super interesting. I think I will need both 0-16v and millivolt inputs. But that's another post…

Cheers,

A.

P.S. BTW, I'm a micro controller newbie, but I have lots of programming experience in other areas.

How big is the boat?

To obtain useful recommendations, you will need to narrow down your requirements a bit more. For example:

  • As many analog inputs as possible

is meaningless. It is possible to have hundreds. How many analog inputs do you actually need?

All the rest (SD card, modem, GPS) can be handled by any Arduino.

mikb55:
How big is the boat?

41’, why?

jremington:
To obtain useful recommendations, you will need to narrow down your requirements a bit more. For example: is meaningless. It is possible to have hundreds. How many analog inputs do you actually need?

All the rest (SD card, modem, GPS) can be handled by any Arduino.

Good point.

I guess what I'm after is a pointer to the wisest prototyping board, so I can start working on this quickly. Exact requirements will be clearer once I have a little time to try stuff.

Is there a board with USB storage capability, cellular connectivity, GPS support, and at least 4 analog input pins?

No there isn't, but you can make it up on a Uno or Mega with the appropriate shields, even the USB storage, I guess, but an SD card is simpler, cheaper, and more commonly used.
A Mega has sixteen analogue pins, which ought to be more than you need for a 41' boat. It also has four serial ports, which will probably be useful.

Nick_Pyner:
No there isn't, but you can make it up on a Uno or Mega with the appropriate shields, even the USB storage, I guess, but an SD card is simpler, cheaper, and more commonly used.
A Mega has sixteen analogue pins, which ought to be more than you need for a 41' boat. It also has four serial ports, which will probably be useful.

Thanks for that.

Any comments about which cellular shield is the smart place to start?

SIM900. I don't think there is very much choice, and one is much the same as another. Another item you need to consider is a decent 5v power supply, particularly as the SIM900 is a bit of a hog.

Nick_Pyner:
SIM900. I don't think there is very much choice, and one is much the same as another. Another item you need to consider is a decent 5v power supply, particularly as the SIM900 is a bit of a hog.

Thanks. I've ordered an SD card and FONA 808 shield from Adafruit. Should be a good place to start and I can optimize later.

A.