Common Issues with Water Sensors

MLA and a team of tech partners recently ran a project at Calliope Station that involved monitoring water levels in tanks and dams across two properties, with 70,000 acres and 7,000 head of cattle.

The sensors their team used included ultrasonic sensor and water pressure sensors and some teething problems were experienced in setting up the system.

These were caused by connectivity issues (which were easily solved), and by debris floating on top of some of the tanks, or false readings from the ultrasonic sensors (solved by changing from ultrasonic sensors to water pressure sensors).    

Here's a short list of some of the things to watch out for if you try a similar setup on your property. 

And if you want to learn more about the benefits of Monitoring Water Levels in Tanks and Dams, read this Case Study.

1) Base station antenna connectivity

Base stations needed to be fitted with a high gain multidirectional 433mHz antennas to ensure that all signals from the sensors were captured and relayed. 

2) Paddock mapping

Every paddock needed to first be mapped (including boundaries and fencing) and named. With 75 paddocks on Calliope, this took a bit of time and effort. 

3) Antenna choice

In some locations the standard antenna had to be replaced with either a directional antenna or a high gain antenna to get efficient data transformation between a sensor and a Base Station. Tall, dense trees were the most common obstruction.  

4) Location of base stations

It took a bit of planning to get the right location for the base stations so there was a line of sight to the gateways. 

5) Choosing the right water level sensors 

In open concrete reservoirs debris or algae drifting on the water surface absorbed the ultrasonic sensor pulses indicating an empty reservoir when it was actually full. The ultrasonic sensors were replaced by water pressure sensors which eliminated the problem. Ultrasonic sensors placed on the inside of black plastic tanks had small evaporation droplets accumulating on surface of the sensor which indicated a full tank when it was actually nearly empty. The team fixed this by placing the ultrasonic sensor outside the tank and drilling a large hole through which the sensor could function. 

 

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