Introducing Open IoT Floater Version 0.1

Welcome to Lake, Reservoir, and Open Ocean Sensing

We are excited to introduce a very early concept of an open iot floater for sensing in lakes, reservoirs, sea ice, and open ocean environments. In the spirit of openess and community driven open source design ethos we are happy to introduce this early prototype concept during this ideation stage for community input and co-design. We welcome your thoughts and contributions to this project. This project is under open source GPL-3 license and builds on the flexible openiotwx land based platform launched 2017.

This is not a new concept as the global network of bouys serve as a critical element of the earth observing network. For example, The GOOS Buoys are an important part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), which is a global network of ocean observing platforms. The GOOS Buoys collect data on a variety of oceanographic parameters, such as water temperature, salinity, turbidity, and currents. Other parameters in lakes and reservoirs could include water PH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and oxidation.

Ocean science typically requires massive research vessels and/or large governmental budgets generally out of reach of developing nations and marginalized communities. For example, A typical GOOS Buoy can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000. The cost of the buoy includes the hardware, software, and installation. The cost of maintenance and operation is also significant, and can add up to $100,000 per year. Buoys can take many forms from anchored bouys to floaters which are carried by currents. The standards for buoys can be found here.

The cost of an ocean science research vessel can vary greatly depending on the size, capabilities, and equipment of the vessel. A small, basic research vessel can cost around $10 million, while a large, state-of-the-art vessel can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, the CHRV, a 125-foot research vessel owned by the University of New Hampshire, cost $11.5 million to build. The R/V Knorr, a 238-foot research vessel owned by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, cost $100 million to build. Using the rule-of-thumb that says annual operating budgets of around 10%-20% the costs of the vessel it is clear these efforts require significant financial resources. While this approach is important for the advancement of ocean science, open iot believes we should empower local communities and citizen scientist to play a role in building their own open source observation networks with low cost sensors, 3D printers, open science princaples (FAIR/CARE/FPIC) and community contributors.

NOAA manages the National Data BouyCenter which shows a large number of buoys deployed accross the world by various organizations. Open IoT is an opportunity to democratize data collection in water.

QPR Labs featured low cost Do-it-Yourself floaters or circumnavigators that used ham radio frequencies WSPRnet to send measurements as seen here. This is an outstanding example that used PVC pipe weighted at the bottom and a fishing pole as part of the antenna. These DIY circumnavigators has demonstrated the viability of such a concept. This project builds on the open iot wx platform started in 2017 for land based systems to allow for coastal and maritime communities to use IoT and open science to build community lead climate change resiliency and adaptation programs.

In alignment with the open iot mission, our goal for the open iot floater is as follows:

Configuration of Open IoT Floaters

The spherical balls or “orbs” currently used to house the microcontrollers in the open iotwx design can float so it is the basis of our open iot floater design. We foresee two potential configurations: an single sphere with keel and antenna and a catamaran open IoT floater with five “orbs” or spherical balls for enhanced stability and capacity to attach more sensing nodes. Both options uses a 48 inch amtenna for the masts with a keel bulb for stabolity and righting. Pip Hare demonstrates this concept of righting with an idealized demo of a “90 degree” test to insure the craft will correct upright.

Image 1
Configuration for single orb floater.
Image 2
Configuration for five orb floater with greater suite of sensors and increased stability.

The floaters can be allowed to float freely, can be anchored if in a lake/reservior, or use a drogue or even a sensor chain when deployed in open ocean.

The parts list includes:

Single Orb and Catamaran Floater Parts List

Area Component Price Per Unit Number of Units Total Price Source
Microcontroller M5 atomlite $7.50 1 $7.50 (M5)
Cables qwiic to grove cable $1.60 1 $1.60 (sparkfun)
Cables qwiic adapter $1.60 1 $1.60 (sparkfun)
Cables usbC=>usbA adapter (2pk) $7.99 1 $7.99 (amazon)
Cables usbC=>usbA 10ft cable (5pk) $13.59 1 $13.59 (amazon)
Sensors Water Temperature $18.95 1 $18.95 (seeedstudio)
Sensors Water PH $99.00 1 $99.00 (seeedstudio)
Sensors Dissolved Oxygen $44.95 1 $44.95 (adafruit)
Sensors Tubidity $24.10 1 $24.10 (adafruit)
Sensors Wave height/water level $4.95 1 $4.95 (mouser)
Sensors Alternative - Fieldkit Water 4 sensor pack $690.95 1 $765 (
Power voltaic v75 (20mah) $79.00 1 $79.00 (voltaic)
Power Voltaic Solar Panel $15.93 1 $15.93 [(voltaic)](
Communications Sparkfun SWARM Satellite $199.99 1 $36.99 (Amazon)
Communications Redpocket 1 yr SIM (TMOBILE ONLY) $30.00 1 $30.00 (ebay)
Communications Antenna (Amazon) $15.99 1 $30.00 (Amazon)
Communications Antenna Mount $11.99 1 $30.00 (Amazon)

Codeberg Repository

For access to the 3D printed files and code base go to our codeberg (similar to github) repository below:

What will it Measure?

Challenges and Work-in-Progress