Engineering an Open-Source Farming Community
Tom Spendlove posted on September 10, 2013 | | 4941 views

Louis Thiery is Kickstarter funding a new way for farmers to collect and distribute data. The Apitronics wireless platform is an open source network that takes inspiration from bees.

Working within the farmhack community Louis quickly became frustrated by the mismatch of the Arduino board and the needs of modern farmers. He developed a base station to act as the hive and the bees are data collection devices that can be spread throughout a field.

The system combines a solar charger, efficient power consumption, gps signal, SD data collection and  a spot for a customizable connector. The enclosure is waterproof and designed to be used outdoors near the farmers’ fields and animal pens.

Currently the most prominent use for the Apitronics module is as a weather monitoring station, available at one of the Kickstarter reward levels. The weather station can read pressure, humidity, temperature, rainfall, wind direction and wind speed.

New applications are in development for chicken coops, urban farming, and rooftop gardening. As an open source platform Thiery expects that as more users are exposed to the Apitronics modules that new and varied uses will continue to be developed. The Kickstarter video shows an interesting setup attached to a remote control plane, it’s exciting to think about what that might do.

The amount of transparency in this open source hardware and software is exciting. Circuit drawings, parts lists, component drawings and source code are all available for users to explore and adapt to their own projects.

Louis developed the app to take data from all of the bee units in the field, look at historical data and set alarms or notifications. Wish list items for further development are sensor-response controls and personalized forecasts based on system data.

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