This field-ready wireless platform is bringing open-source connectivity to the farm
After putting together a better greenhouse monitor for Farm Hack, Louis Thiery saw an opportunity to vastly improve the way modern technology is used on the farm, and wanted to integrate field-ready sensors with a dedicated server that could control and monitor them all. The result of his work is Apitronics, an open source wireless platform with a small dedicated Linux computer serving as the brain.
The Apitronics platform uses "Bees", which are low-power, Arduino-compatible sensor or actuator devices, and a "Hive", a small Linux box which networks the Bees together and gathers and displays data from them, or sends control signals downstream to the Bees.
Our platform emphasizes making it easy to deploy wireless devices in harsh environments. Features include:
- field-ready devices: running efficiently on a LiPo battery, Bees can be recharged via solar panels or wall warts
- modular plugs with customizable sensors and switches: a waterproof connector allows you to easily attach or detach an array of sensors and switches
- local databasing and web app: a gateway manages the wireless network and provides a browser-based UI - the system is protected against internet connectivity failures
Right now, the basic Bees can be attached to "plugs" including humidity sensors and a weather station, but additional plugs are being developed (or can be developed by end users) that can serve as door sensors (Did I leave the greenhouse door open?) or water level sensors, or even controllers and sensors for field irrigation or aquaponic systems.
Because the system uses open source hardware and software, the Apitronics lends itself easily to extending and customizing, and anyone with Arduino/C++ experience can develop additional sensors or "hack the Hive itself." And it's not just for farms, either, as the system could also be applied to other environmental monitoring needs.
Apitronics is currently in a crowdfunding phase on Kickstarter, and backers at the $139 level will receive a Hive, one Bee, and the weather station plug.