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  1. #1
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    Default Arduino Bee Projects?

    Working on my electronic hive scale project, I've got an expensive pro datalogger but it is prohibitive for most amateur beekeepers. The load cells are cut out of a $21 Walmart scale ... the electronics should be similarly inexpensive.

    I'm starting to design the conditioner amplifiers. A differential amplifier and a single op-amp with a couple of precision voltage sources shouldn't cost more than about $10. I think a board kit could be put together for $20, powered by an Arduino-type computer.

    So this evening I plunked down $44 and ordered an upgraded Arduino-compatible Seeeduino Mega. The reason for going with the Mega version is it has more analog channels. The analog inputs are 10-bit, so the resolution is one part in 1024. For a 330 pound scale, that means better than half a pound resolution, about all a bathroom scale is good for. I could build a better converter, but good enough is good enough.

    3-terminal temperature sensors are cheap and readily available. Again, for normal ambient temperatures, 1 part in 1000 is OK, if I can get the range good. If I want to try my heat flow sensors, it can read those as well.

    I tossed in a couple of off-the-shelf shields, including a temperature and humidity module. They also have rain sensors, motion sensors, and a number of other "shields" that might be handy. I'm pretty sure you can get a full weather station built on these. Most of these little boards are under $10.

    I noticed there are microphones available for Arduino. On a whim, I checked, and there is FFT code available, and they can digitize sound if the frequency is not too high. 3kHz "hiss" might be a challenge, but the 240 Hz peak buzz (Nurse bees) that is supposed to indicate a healthy hive (look up Apidiction) should be easily done by Arduino tech.

    My hope would be to have an Ethernet link into the house (they have RF accessories for longer distances), and be able to monitor current conditions or download logs from a computer indoors.

    I've seen some other mention of Arduino computers here, especially for hive scales. Have any of you worked with these little marvels for bee projects?

  2. #2
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    New York City, NY
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    I'm surprised that you didn't consider the SD card shield.

    Sounds like you're cooking with gas.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    I considered it, I just didn't spring for everything at once. Likely I'll get one but the question is just where will it go. For the first few months I'll be using the UEIDAQ cube, which has its own SD card slot.

    The place I ordered the stuff from is my favorite surplus house, but they don't have a full line of shields. I need to get tight with the Arduino community so I don't reinvent the wheel. I know a strain conditioner project was done at least once ... my computer had a fit when I tried to visit the virus-infested website.

    I may have 3-4 of these rigged up around the cabin in the long run. One on the apiary doing apiary-readings, another on the solar heating setup for the cabin, another on a weather station, and then one indoors doing the logging. Ethernet shields are available, I notice.

    But I've got a steep learning curve to kill first. For one thing, I've barely stuck a toe into the C programming language ... more at home with Pascal, or even Assembler. But this will make me finally learn it. Fortunately a lot of code is written, and I will have plenty of examples to learn from.

  4. #4
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    Lafayette, LA - USA
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    I have a few arduino boards sitting around... Just my projects are too simple to test my programming skills, but I invent a few tasks here and there to try... Just not enough time now.

  5. #5
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    international falls, Mn
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Thanks Phoebee for the electro-technical forey into the wooden box---
    I'm semi literate in the arduino world, so keep it simple for folks like me.....
    For me I need #1-humidity (dew point) inside and out of the hive
    #2-temp, inside and out
    #3-possably, the scale.......
    wireless would be great, but for starters, just a few items to take out some of the huge (for me)
    questions I have concerning weather inside the box....Keep us posted and thanks again....

    ==McBee7==

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Here's the temperature/humidity sensor I just ordered. Only 8-bit but cheap, $5.95.

    http://www.mpja.com/Temperature-Humi...fo/30287%20MP/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    I see a lot of people have tried weather stations. This one looks pretty complete, although some of its features are not exactly what I want. But way cheaper than a lot of off-the-shelf systems. I'll have two pyranometers to add to it for my solar projects ... sunshine data would be good for the bees, as well.

    http://www.osengr.org/WxShield/Web/WxShield.html#Links

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    @Phoebee:

    Are you on the BEE-L list serve group? This morning there was an announcement and call for papers for a specialty conference to be added on to the Western Apicultural Society's meeting on Sept 18-19.

    The Conference will be covering: This is the First Call for Papers, Exhibits, andDemonstrations of Hive AND Bee Monitoring Methods, Equipment, and Research. Topic Areas include, but are not limited to:Scale Hives, Hive Sensors, Hive Communications (wireless, phone, and satellite),Infrared Imaging of Hives and Bees, Bee and Colony Acoustics, RadiofrequencyIdentification Tags for Bees and Hives, Bee Tracking and Mapping Using Sound, Video,Harmonic Radar, Radar, or Lidar.

    This sounds right up your alley.

    The contact person (for papers and conference info): is Jerry Brommenshenk, email beereasearch@aol.com

    Enj.

  9. #9
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    Apr 2013
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    High Springs, FL
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    I've been considering using an electric imp connected to a hacked scale. Just now getting solar and the temp sensing imp set up. I'd love to hear how your efforts on reading data from the walmart scale go!

  10. #10
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    Sep 2013
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    Madoc, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Great stuff, Phoebee!

    I am planning on putting some Arduino based hive monitoring systems in my bee house(s). I have a handful of each of DHT22 humidity sensors, DS1820B temperature sensors and a few Arduino Unos to get started. I picked up a few MDG Mini (ruggedized) netbooks to use for communications - just because it is so easy and I bought the netbooks for less than the Arduino communications modules. I also have a few old Panasonic Toughbooks (Win98 vintage) laying about that might get put back into service if I run out.

    While it is easy enough for me to assemble the above hardware, do the coding and transmit the data to my home office, the electronics design and assembly for DIY hive scales are way beyond my capabilities. A scale under every hive would be ideal. If someone could put together a signal conditioning module to convert load cell output to Arduino usable signals, folks like me would haul out their wallets. My economics suggest that having real time hive weights would be worth over $50 CDN ($45 US at the moment) per hive.

    On the scale resolution, I would suggest that a scale with a very high probability of being within plus/minus five pounds accuracy would be good enough for production hives. Hence, plus minus a half pound accuracy would probably better than ideal.

    On a side note, a university in the US midwest has patented electronic beehive monitoring so putting together complete monitoring systems for sale would not be very lucrative. Not sure if a hive scale alone would infringe.

    Keep us posted, Phoebee. I think that more than a few of us are interested in electronic hive monitoring.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Quote Originally Posted by mdax View Post
    I've been considering using an electric imp connected to a hacked scale. Just now getting solar and the temp sensing imp set up. I'd love to hear how your efforts on reading data from the walmart scale go!
    All I use from the Walmart (a Health-o-Meter) scale is the four feet, each of which contains a half bridge strain gage load cell. The electronics are sent to recycling. I cut the frame on which the feet are mounted apart and glue the feet to a bottom board, then wire the feet up into two full bridges in parallel. I've tested one so far, using an Analog Devices 2B31J conditioner/amplifier, and it works pretty well, with a slight temperature drift that should be correctable. The output is a little "steppy", I think because as temperature increases and decreases, the bottom board expands and contracts, causing a little lateral dragging of the feet. The steps are around 1/4 pound. I'll probably put friction-reducing pads under the feet at some point, but they're good enough even with the steps.

    The 2B31J's are relics from the 1980's, and conditioner amplifiers are expensive (usually around $150 used on e-bay), so this project will depend on an affordable option.

  12. #12
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    Edgefield, SC
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Oh, I love to see hive monitoring projects!
    Please post mor einfo and pics when you get it running.
    Thought of doing one but the costs of a decent scale has left me waiting....

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    DMLinton,

    Toughbooks! I remember those. We bought one for a military project and it failed in a week. Meanwhile, I had a cheap Toshiba Satellite laptop that we used outdoors in the mud ... picked it up in 2002 and it was still going strong in 2012 when I retired. I have an old Toshiba that I use as my backwoods computer, which likely will be the comm/display system for the Arduinos.

    What I like about the Arduino approach, apart from the price, is their versatility. My pro datalogger is just a dumb analog datalogger, so dumb that it has no setting to log at less than 1 Hz. I can rig the Arduinos to log both digital/serial shields and analog inputs at any rate I like, toss in a couple of microphones and log FFT results, and integrate my sensors with things like weather stations.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    @Phoebee:

    Are you on the BEE-L list serve group? This morning there was an announcement and call for papers for a specialty conference to be added on to the Western Apicultural Society's meeting on Sept 18-19 ...

    ... The contact person (for papers and conference info): is Jerry Brommenshenk, email beereasearch@aol.com

    Enj.
    Thanks! We just heard about the Eastern Apicultural Society annual meeting at last night's bee class, but with no detail about what they do. Probably I need a year tinkering before I have anything presentable, but that's the sort of science project stuff I like. Our local bee association engages in publishable research, and did a paper a couple of years back on the benefits of locally-produced nucs, funded as a SARE grant (around a $2500 grant). Since they already know the ropes, I'd figured I'd sniff around there and see if there are projects I could tackle under a modest grant. Our hives will be in West Virginia, and I hear the competition for SARE grants there is not as bad as Virginia.

    http://www.sare.org/Grants

    Example of a bee grant:

    Evaluating Hornfaced Bees (Osmia cornifrons
    Radoszkowski) as Pollinators of Highbush Blueberry
    $9,933.00 Todd West West Virginia
    University

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    The fact that the load cells will be outdoors and be under constant load could lead to degredation/hysteresis. Just a thought.. but might not be an issue depending on the cells used.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Hence my wanting a season of use on them. The mechanical load elements are steel, which is not prone to creep if loaded conservatively and kept at ordinary temperatures, but it will rust. I may need to use some rust-proofing paint on them. The plastic mounts might creep, or deteriorate in outside conditions. The stability of strain gage adhesive is unknown. I doubt they used cyanoacrylate, but if they did it may debond after weather exposure.

    The original scale was rated at 330 pounds. The individual cells need to be able to handle off-center load, so likely each one can take 330 pounds without a permanent set. With a well-balanced load, I could probably apply 500 pounds easily with no damage. I think normal hive weights are well within the capacity of these load cell feet.

    My first test showed erratic behavior, but that turned out to be a bad amplifier. I saw no hysteresis once I changed to a good channel. But the "steppiness" is essentially a small scale hysteresis that looks like a stick-slip problem. So the 18-bit converters (about one part in a quarter million, or a few hundredths of an ounce) are gross overkill for the quality of the load cells. But my hope is not to weigh individual bees. I'd like to see a drop when the foragers leave in the morning, though.

    If I were made of money, I'd use four shiny Lebow stainless steel hermetically sealed load cells per hive. But nobody would buy them unless they had a federal grant. Let's see if we can get away with cheap, and work from there. Other people have tried mechanical bathroom scales and gotten away with it.
    Last edited by Phoebee; 03-07-2014 at 10:29 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Progress update:

    My buddy MSimon is eager for electronic design projects and is working with me to come up with something affordable. This would be open-source, like Arduino projects, but he'd probably sell boards. His design group would like to sell their own computer but the approach and price would be similar to Arduino, and all the pieces would work with Arduino.

    I've ordered a Seeeduino Mega and some sensor and shield cards. I just found one outfit that sells differential amplifier cards and 12-bit ADC cards, and ordered a pair of each (all the way from China, found none in the US). Simon and I will probably wind up making a single card that has the diff amp, excitation supply, and a 16-bit converter (resolution of .08 oz at 330 lbs full scale!), plus taps for temperature, humidity, and other sensors as desired. One of these cards per hive, user adds sensors as required, including a gutted cheap bathroom scale. I am planning to add a microphone amplifier. Plug in a $5 microphone and the right software, and the setup could give more data on each hive than most research hives get, and customizable.

    Hive weight
    Hive temperature
    Hive humidity
    Apidiction (FFT to determine 240 Hz buzz peak of a healthy hive)
    Room for more sensors (motion detection, etc).

    Then one Arduino-type computer (mine cost $44) could service a cluster of hives, each set up as described above. A few additional sensors could record outside temperature, humidity, sunshine, soil moisture, or even a full weather station (all these things have been done by Arduino enthusiasts). A temperature/humidity sensor is about $8, and I'd expect about that for a sunshine sensor.

    I'm thinking a setup for 4 hives might cost $350-400. A bit more for solar power and maybe a long-distance RF link for remote hives. So the question is, for how many people would $100 per hive be worth it? A hive produces maybe $500 in honey in a good year, retail? Labor costs are high, and my guess would be the justification is in knowing WHEN an outyard needs attention.

    For me, I just can't resist the urge to rig up stuff like this, just to see it go. Which, I think, drives the Arduino market.

  18. #18
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    Dec 2013
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    international falls, Mn
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Great work Phoebee..

    One additional sensor I was considering was surface temperature inside the box, mounted
    near the top, where respatory gasses could condense, if the surface temp fell
    bellow the internal dew point....internal surface temp, would be different than the internal air temp,
    It would probably need to be insulated on the inside, so it didn't average air temp, and surface
    temp ...just a thought..

    ==McBee7==

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Arduino also makes a moisture sensor for gardening and a rain sensor. The rain sensor detects droplets on a grid, so it might be the way to detect condensing moisture.

    What I've proposed to Simon is that we have jacks on the scale card for as many additional sensors as people think they might need on a particular hive. I figured not less than 6, so you could just pick the Arduino sensors you need and plug them in to the scale card. The only catch is the sensors have to have addresses so they can share the same data line. I think that's all worked out in the I2C scheme they use.

    If this will work, you'd run one 4-wire cable to each hive (power, ground, serial data, and the microphone analog line). Minimum fuss between hive and computer.

    There are temperature sensors out there that use I2C, and each one comes with a unique 64-bit code, but I don't know if Arduino uses those.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Arduino Bee Projects?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebee View Post
    Progress update:
    I'm thinking a setup for 4 hives might cost $350-400. A bit more for solar power and maybe a long-distance RF link for remote hives. So the question is, for how many people would $100 per hive be worth it? A hive produces maybe $500 in honey in a good year, retail? Labor costs are high, and my guess would be the justification is in knowing WHEN an outyard needs attention.
    I think $100/hive would be at the upper justifiable limit. My rough calcs indicate that $50/hive is almost certainly justifiable. A double deep colony sells for around $350 here later in the Summer. Spring nucs with imported queens are $150/nuc or with local Spring queens, about $200/nuc. Assuming the electronics last five years (wild assed guess), at $100/hive initial cost the annual cost would be around $20-$25/hive. With those numbers, one need only save 1 out of 14 colonies due to info from the monitoring system to make it an approximately break even undertaking.

    On the communications, my preference would be WiFi for my home yard and mobile Internet for outyards (unless I am close to enough to someone's house to rent some Internet bandwidth over WiFi) as some of them could be up to 45 miles away.

    BTW, the DS18B20 one wire temperature sensors have unique addresses.

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