vanwaltKISS

The Keep it Simple Sensing system is a true "plug and play" environmental telemetry system to monitor water level and temperature. This easy to use and accurate system delivers environmental data cost-effectively and securely.

Client

Van Walt

Categories

Environmental, IoT

Website

https://www.vanwalt.com/

Van Walt Ltd provides world-class equipment and data for environmental professions and has been one of our clients for many years. Working closely together we have designed and developed some of their products you see today, including the vanwaltDataHub.

The vanwaltKISS product is an entry-level, cost-effective solution used to remotely monitor water level and temperature. It is robust and extremely simple to set-up and use. We combined some key features of the vanwaltDataHub and vanwaltDataSlave, squeezed them into a small bespoke housing designed to fit wells from 1 inch upwards and connected a powerful Keller water level sensor. The system, created and specified by Van Walt; developed & manufactured by GB Electronics, delivers remote water level monitoring data directly to a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. It is an affordable option for everyone as it is easy to use, very quick to deploy and simple to retrieve onsite data. vanwaltKISS bridges the gap between level loggers and Van Walt’s highly sophisticated, multi-sensor, multi-parameter Data Collection offerings.

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The Brief

The project began with the client providing a detailed brief and initial sketch of their ideal product (shown above). The brief was to design and manufacture a low-cost water level sensor which reports data telemetrically. This would be for groundwater monitoring wells (borehole) with a maximum depth of 30m and diameters between 1 to 3 inches. Furthermore, the borehole could be in harsh environments in temperatures of -10°C to 80°C, with the potential to be placed in marshland which could be flooded 2-4 months at a time. This led to the following specification:

  • The product must be IP68 rated i.e., it can withstand dust, dirt, and sand, and are resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m underwater for up to thirty minutes.
  • The battery must have a 24-month lifetime; therefore, all electronics must be low powered.
  • Data should be sent from the sensor daily to the user via GSM.
  • The sensor cable should be vented and accurate with a length of 30m.
  • Must include access to a secure portal for data download.

Our Approach

The key challenge was to ensure the product was IP68 rated while still being low-cost, accurate and fully operational for a 24-month period.

During ideation of the enclosure, several innovative features were added. Firstly, the LEDs which were originally specified as panel mounted IP68 rated, however these changed to PCB mount. This was due to the development of acrylic 'light ring' allowing the LEDs to shine through the enclosure, not only did this save complexity and cost but it also created a key aesthetic feature to the product, setting the product apart from competitors. Next, after testing different shaped prototypes, we changed from a spherical to a conical shape. This would allow the product to self-centre when placed over the borehole. A cylinder was added to the bottom to protect the connectors whilst in a 1" borehole, in addition to an integrated ‘eye strap’ on the lid allowing the user to secure the device to the borehole. Finally, due to the shape change we were able to separate the product into different pieces allowing us to use a combination of stock and bespoke items during manufacture. These pieces were welded together to provide the IP68 rating, whilst reducing the cost of the enclosure, even in low volume.

A key focus was designing a hardware solution that is ultra-low power without compromising on functionality. To achieve this, the embedded firmware has control of all the peripherals; utilising sleep modes to minimise power consumption. We also ensured the UI was as simple as possible for the user. Therefore, we designed the electronics to have one single interface - the sensor connector. This meant designing the connector to operate as the sensor connection, an engineering data port as well as an on/off switch. Using our experience from the Datahub product, hardware design and software protocols were implemented to ensure robust, reliable, and secure data collection and transmission. This was crucial to remote deployment.

The Solution

The outcome was a true plug-and-play environmental data telemetry system to monitor water level and temperature. The user simply attaches the cable to the device, drop the sensor down the well and that's it. This device delivers data cost effectively and securely to the user in a variety of environments worldwide. Features Include:

  • Easy to deploy in 1-inch wells and larger.
  • IP68 rated.
  • 24 months of data.
  • 24 months battery life.
  • Includes access to secure portal for data download.
  • Includes roaming SIM card which allows operation in most countries.
  • CE compliant.