Environmental Sensing


Open source, battery powered, stand-off acoustic water leak detection

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The AquaPing is an ultra-low power smart sensor that provides stand-off water leak detection, even for leaks behind walls. No contact with plumbing is needed. All signal processing and analysis occurs at the edge, so no audio is streamed to the cloud and eavesdropping is impossible.

When pressurized water escapes from a seam, crack, or loose fitting on plumbing, broadband high frequency acoustics are emitted. These signals can travel 10 m or more in free-space and be detected by a remote sensor. This suggests a stand-off method for water leak detection that is substantially different compared to conventional contact moisture sensors and various types of smart flow meters installed on or inside of plumbing lines.

Acoustic leak detection combines the principles of glass breakage and smoke detectors. Glass breakage occurs on a timescale of a few seconds or less, requiring continuous data acquisition at rates approaching 1 kHz or more. Almost all plumbing leaks are persistent, which allows for sub-Hz sampling rates and exceptional battery life.

Glass breakage has the advantage of being generally louder than the ambient environment so that detector sensitivity is not an issue. Small water leaks, especially when separated from the sensor by acoustic barriers such as walls, are likely to be at or below the environmental background. Much higher sensitivity and noise mitigation are essential. This is addressed by mechanical, electronic, and digital filtering along with judicious use of statistical analysis.

Complements Standard Leak Detection Techniques

Acoustic sensing can be used to complement standard leak detection techniques and will be especially useful when monitoring large areas. Anticipated use cases are in smart homes and buildings, security systems, irrigation, dental and medical offices, critical plumbing installations, insurance loss mitigation, and water conservation. Other creative uses are up to you!

This acoustic approach to water leak detection works well but is not capable of identifying all possible water issues. For example, it will not respond to leaking roofs or melting ice. The nature of the pressurized orifice is also important. A smooth hole drilled into a pipe will produce a Laminar flow jet that emits a much weaker acoustic signal compared to a jagged crack or loose fitting at the same backing pressure.

Features & Specifications


AquaPingPhynFlumeHero Labs SonicRoost
Sensor techPropagating acoustics Ultrasonic vibrations from plumbing Senses rotating magnetic impeller on existing meter Pressure, temperature, pipe acoustics Direct water contact
Minimum detectable leak rate0.01 gpm depending on stand-off distance Not specified 0.2 gpm for most utility meters Not specified Not applicable
Environmental training timeUser configurable: 10 seconds – 4 minutes Multiple days Multiple days Multiple days, then ongoing Not applicable
System requirementsCommunicates with any host having I2C capability Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTT WiFi + app WiFi + app WiFi + app
Cut pipe to installNo Yes No Yes No
Power source1.8--3.6 VDC 120 VAC Specialized battery + 120 VAC Lithium batteries or 120 VAC 2 x AAA
Open sourceYes No No No No

Open Source

This project is fully open source and welcomes your input. You can find all hardware files, firmware and docs in our GitHub repository. Also available is an example sketch and documentation for interfacing with an ESP8266 master controller using the Arduino IDE.

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In the Press

PCBWay Community Blog

"The AquaPing is an ultra-low power smart sensor that provides isolated water leak detection, even behind walls without contact with pipes. "

About the Team


 ·  microphonon  ·  microphonon  ·  microphonon.com

Developing sensor tech for the Internet of Things

Michael Hasselbeck


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