Questions about Moisture Sensors

Hi arduinoites,

I'm looking to get into arduino so I can prototype a device. I'm a complete noob to this so bear with me. I'd like to know if it is viable before I drop a lot of money on the prototype.

The device will have a moisture or water sensor. The key is that it should be able to detect when a piece of clothing gets wet. The sensor should not be embedded in the clothing but would be in contact with it. For proof-of-concept purposes I've been looking at these:

http://www.robotmesh.com/grove-water-sensor?gclid=Cj0KEQjwi-moBRDL4Omf9d_LndMBEiQAQtFf8y66_hamjvOKntR6eMHKxILmRXQs7DAYiYJI6MiwTIIaAozY8P8HAQ

http://www.robotshop.com/en/electronic-brick-soil-moisture-sensor.html?gclid=Cj0KEQjwi-moBRDL4Omf9d_LndMBEiQAQtFf89Gs-61d0NzxhUBUbIR-qiT0cIpzScvgF-KlmgzgQz8aArBD8P8HAQ

In all the tutorials I've seen, I have seen these connected to another little board, which connects to the arduino. So:

1) I'd like to know if these sensors could connect directly to an arduino, though, as I want my prototype to be as small as possible.

2) Since these sensors are made for soil or direct contact with water, will they work for clothing and detect when it is wet?

3) In general terms, does anyone have a suggestion for a good starter kit to get started with arduino that won't break the bank?

Thanks for your time and glad to join the Arduino community!

1) There are some additional electronics needed, in addition to the two plates. Some boards have this on the same PCB with the plates that get wet, but most have the electronics on a separate board, probably so you can get the electronics away from the water.

2) Yeah, they should, though both plates need to be in contact with the wet material, and the extent of the contact will greatly impact readings.

The purity of the water also makes a huge difference. Pure water makes a poor conductor.

Thanks for the responses! Instead of the sensors I posted, is it possible to just use any two pieces of conductive material as the sensor? For example, to lengths of copper wire?