A full-featured LiFePO4 battery, power manager, and UPS for the Raspberry Pi

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Oct 29, 2019

Project update 19 of 19

Field Report: Remote Soil Telemetry Station

We’ve received a field report from a happy customer, read on to see how they are using the LiFePO4wered/Pi+ in their project.

Monitoring the soil

In response to our recent call for Field Reports, Mauro Ugarte of EMUTEK LTDA was kind enough to share what his startup company in Chile is working on:

Maybe this will be beneficial for others who want to implement something similar (although this is nothing new, it is only a cheaper local version of something that has existed for some time): We are doing telemetry of soil variables for agriculture (volumetric water content, electrical conductivity and temperature) in conjunction with a technical and scientific consulting firm for agriculture, who can transform raw data into information. The system measures these variables every 30 minutes and sends them to a web platform that allows the end user (usually the foreman of the farm) to make decisions regarding the irrigation process and also in relation to the nutrition of their crop.

The hardware

Mauro was kind enough to let us take a peek inside the system:

What a beautiful build—the quality is outstanding! So how does his system benefit from using a LiFePO4wered/Pi+? In addition to improving reliability by ensuring the system always performs a clean shutdown, Mauro explains how the system has benefited from other LiFePO4wered/Pi+ features:

The LiFePO4wered/Pi+ has been very helpful in automating the operating cycles, which can now be adjusted remotely, and also allowing the system to independently modify the sampling frequency or the number of tasks it performs depending on the charge state of the main battery (an SLA 7Ah battery, which depends on solar energy availability).

"But wait, why the extra SLA battery?" someone might ask. In their current build, it provides extra energy storage, but Mauro is already thinking about letting the LiFePO4wered/Pi+ take care of that as well:

We are going to measure soil variables just once per hour with low-power Raspberry Pis (we haven’t yet decided which one), and we also adjusted the software to complete a measurement cycle much quicker than before, [so we’re] looking to get rid of the extra SLA battery and the extra charge controller, relying only on LiFePO4wered/Pi+ for the continuity of the service.

Actionable data

In the end, data is not very useful unless it can be analyzed and acted on. In this case, the data is presented in a nice dashboard that those running the farm can use to determine irrigation and nutrition needs at a given time:

Seeing beautiful and useful systems like this, which were made just a little simpler to implement because of LiFePO4wered, makes us very happy. :) Thank you very much for sharing, Mauro, a $25 Crowd Supply credit is coming your way!

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