Low cost open source sensor observation systems

Oliver Archner1, Stefan Holzheu1
1 BayCEER EDV, University of Bayreuth

P 4.5 in Digging DATA, molding models: On the pursuit of patterns and correlations


The current hardware and software developments in the field of wireless sensor networks and embedded devices have stimulated a tremendous change in the environmental sensor observation domain. Not that long ago data were logged by a few experts using a small number of high prized sensors connected to proprietary hardware.
Today a high number of low cost devices, based on open source controller boards like Arduino or Raspberry Pi, offer a couple of interfaces to connect all kind of sensors and are able to push observation data online to gateways. These devices are easy programmable, even for non-professional programmers, and supported by a large online community.

Material and Methods

We developed a low cost weather station prototype for teaching and on site measurement campaigns based on open source products with the following properties:

  • Self-designed Arduino board based on an Atmel AVR microcontroller

  • Wireless communication infrastructure to push observation data to a Raspberry Pi gateway

  • Measurement of air temperature and humidity, precipitation and soil temperature using industrial sensors

  • Low cost installation material like radiation shield and boxing

After the production period we installed two of our sensors closed to a professional weather station and calculated completeness, validation and reference checks for observed sensor values.

First results

Our test is scheduled over a time period of one year. A first analysis with data of one month produced the following results:

  • Data completeness of 100% for a sampling resolution of 10 minutes

  • Outage caused be wireless fake sender addresses

  • Too high temperature values under conditions with high solar radiation

  • The humidity sensors produced spikes with humidity values of 0%


Our weather station prototype needs further refinement for better data quality and completeness. We hope that we can fix these minor issues during the next couple of weeks. After this, it should be a perfect source for new scientific measurement campaigns.
The versatile Arduino Board can be a starter for many projects and has the potential to be the default choice in many of our applications in the future.


Keywords: Sensor, sensor network, embedded devices
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