Dosec has been designing rugged environmental instrumentation for agricultural, forestry and scientific research purposes for almost a decade.

Enviromental Monitoring Instrumentation

The Task

To develop a suite of instruments that would allow scientists and researchers to perform technically complex measurements of soil, plant and atmospheric properties with ease.

The Solution

Dosec commenced a process of liaising with elite scientists and researchers, in Australia and overseas, to develop their ideas and research into sophisticated, rugged instrumentation products that perform reliably in the most extreme climates in the world; from the Alaskan tundra to Arabian deserts, the Australian outback as well as Equatorial rainforests.

A conceptual design was developed for a comprehensive product platform; one that could be extended and built upon into the future as a generic base for a wide range of unique of instruments. The base platform was developed to ensure all instruments had the same capability in terms of power management, communications, data logging and time keeping as well as the ability to field update firmware.

Sophisticated solar panel charging of the internal lithium polymer battery ensures that, even in overcast conditions, instruments are able to be powered.

 

High precision sap flow meter

In-house mechanical design expertise was used to design an enclosure system which would withstand tough environmental conditions, with an ingress protection rating up to IP68, direct exposure to the environment and temperatures from -40C to +70C. The enclosure needed to be adaptable to future instrumentation requirements as well as being suited to mass production processes. Non polarised, waterproof power inputs and hassle free daisy chaining allows quick on-site installation of multiple instruments sharing a single solar panel using just a pocket knife to strip the cable ends.

 

While all instruments share the same base platform, individual instrument hardware was designed based on specific sensor requirements, such as high precision, 24-bit ADCs, capable of nano-volt resolutions, or the ability to be connected to a number of high precision temperature sensors. Each instrument has robust power management, including lightning surge protection with galvanic isolation, data logging to micro SD memory cards and can communicate over inbuilt radio and USB. The electronics is designed and tested to operate from -40 degrees C to +80 degrees C.

 

Each instrument’s firmware is carefully designed to balance performance, data integrity and low power usage. This ensures battery longevity and continuous unsupervised operation in remote areas under harsh environmental conditions. Some instruments perform a very specific task, such as plant/tree sap flow, water potential, stem and fruit growth or photosynthetically active solar radiation measurements. Others provide highly configurable interfaces to weather sensors, analogue output sensors, pulse and frequency output sensors, RS485 sensors, SDI-12 sensors, while providing a plug and play experience to the end user.

To deal with a multitude of different types of sensors which do not necessarily provide a linear output, a scripting language was developed, allowing an endless amount of mathematical conversions. This allowed creation of virtual channels used to process data directly on the instrument and provide a result without needing to post-process the data file on the computer.

A feature-rich software interface was developed for the purpose of configuring sensors, downloading and viewing data as well as manual control of the instrument. Acknowledging the diverse operating system use by the users of these sensors, software was developed for cross platform use. This enables users of Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X and Linux to connect, view instrument data as well as configure and control.

Product Applications

The success of any product development project is measured by the commercial outcomes. Over the last decade thousands of instruments have been sold by our client and the process of innovating and developing new, exciting products continues.

These powerful, precise, configurable instruments have been used all over the world by academic and commercial researchers, agronomists, arborists, farmers, mining companies and various government agencies for applications in crop production, (including hydroponics and greenhouses), climate change research, solar power generation, weather warning and environmental management including minesite and land fill pollution mitigation, ground water movement and salinity, ground subsidence, protected tree management.