Temp & Light Monitoring and Data Collection


I am brainstorming a summer project and I was hoping I could get some tips here.

The general idea is that I'd like to install a system that would monitor in real time and collect data about temperature and light exposure across a farm. I've played around with a Demilnuevo board and know some Java mostly, but I'm hoping to expand my hardware and hardware programming skills with this project.

I was thinking that I could have a microcontroller (which one, I don't know) with sensors deployed around it (best way for them to communicate to the board while maximizing area); the microcontroller could then send data to a computer. I don't know how I can maximize breadth of monitoring, but I was hoping you guys could tell me what kind of hardware options I have. I was also thinking that once I have this working for one microcontroller over a certain amount of space, I could add more to cover more area.

Any tips or links would be great!

once I have this working for one microcontroller over a certain amount of space, I could add more to cover more area

You're going to have to hang some numbers on those WIBNIs.

Sorry for the vagueness, but I am not familiar with the space yet. I know that its 25 acres total and I imagine maximizing distance between sensor points is the ideal, ie: having a sparse net and making it more dense as need arises. I imagine that that's expensive but I'm asking how can I get the most bang for my buck.

Let's say I start with an acre (let's say 1/2km away from the computer) with 2 or 3 sensors - what are my options? I'd like to stay wireless as much as possible but I imagine maybe the sensors could have wires leading the the boards. I'm just hoping to get pointed in the right direction so feel free to give me homework :stuck_out_tongue:

An XBee by itself can collect and transmit sensor data. Having an XBee on an XBee Dongle can feed the data into the computer. No Arduinos are required anywhere.

There are a variety of XBees available - XBee - SparkFun Electronics, and a selection guide - XBee Buying Guide - SparkFun Electronics

The 25 acre size implies outdoors. What exactly are you expecting to learn from measuring temperature and light over that area? It's hardly big enough to have much variation in temperature, and light is influenced by so many things that are beyond your control.

Well it's in a mountainous region which I think would probably lead for more variability (in light) than your average plot of land. I think having this type of capability would help in deciding where to plant what and in monitoring things... if an area freezes you want to react and heat it.

Those Xbees do seem very appropriate. Might be some issues in making them rugged enough but definitely seem to be the cost and capabilities I'm looking for.

Plus there's some kind of greenhouses...