Saturday Feb 14, 2009

Project Canopee Video

Hey! We have come up with a small video that demonstrates the scope of Project Canopee. Check it out!




Wednesday Jan 21, 2009

How Sun Spots fared in XTreme conditions

As I mentioned in my last blog, we had been to the KMTR Rain forest for a possible deployment solution using Sun SPOTs. Here is a brief accout of how Sun SPOTs actually fared in these XTreme conditions..

The Existing System:

ATREE has undertaken a pioneering canopy research program at KMTR which is opening a new world of ecological understanding.As a part of the project, they need to measure various environmental variables as temperature, light, rainfall, soil moisture, if possible CO2 etc.

Currently the parameters are measured using hobo data loggers developed by Onset in US from various parts of the forest, that could be ground, forest canopy, disturbed forests etc. The data loggers currently give readings at 1 hour interval for light, temperature and RH

Actual Deployment Place highlighted in Red

The Environmental Conditions:

1. Temperature Range:      8 - 38 Degree C

2. Humidity:                     15-100%

3. Rainfall Range:             1000-4500mm

Requirements: Hobo Datalogger circuit

Since they do long term monitoring at the site for vegetation, phenology and soil moisture levels the equipments need to run unattended for months together. The equipments should also be small, completely water proof - usually moisture levels are 100% for a large part of the year. Many dataloggers have failed due to moisture. Hence, a reliable, moisture resistant sensor network is needed which will measure the required parameters efficiently.

They deploy the data loggers on tree tops about  22 - 25 mt high. They periodically have to climb up trees and bring the dataloggers down. So, it would be really useful the system could send data down wirelessly if base station connected to the computer is in range.The data can then be stored in database and analyzed to generate reports. But theory sounds really good... What about practical deployment and feasibility? We analyzed many important aspects. Here is what we found...

Can Sun SPOTs help ?                                                                                                  The Data Logger Circuit

Issue I: How to protect the Sun SPOT in such hostile conditions?

                                 Box Open Box Closed

The environment where the actual deployment is to be made is very hostile.. The main problems are:

  • Humidity
  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Animals - specially monkeys.. One of the data logger was actually chewed away and destroyed by a Nilgiri Langoor

Sun SPOT and HOBO Together!                                                         Deployed on Tree Top

But the solution was already in place! They have developed a nice little box that keeps the data logger away from Rain and water splashings from sides. Also they lock it awat so that the animals cant get their hands on that. The device is suspended from the middle and slits are provided so that the temperature and moisture are not altered. 

Issue II: The accuracy of the data?

We had developed a prototype of the probable system for testing. The Sun SPOT was kept on the tree for 1 day and programmed to take 48 readings of light and temperature at intervals of 1 hour each. Later it would send the data to database through basestation.

The actual result was fantastic! We had placed the Sun SPOT besides the hobo data logger inside the box and the readings found were almost matching. The slight deviation of 0.5 units was completely acceptable.

Here is the actual comparison:

Readings with Data Logger:

From ATREEPics

Readings with Sun SPOT

From ATREEPics

Issue III:  Range of Sun SPOTs!

We did rigorous testing for the Range of the Sun SPOTs. And the results were fantastic again:

Height above sea level





Range Found

1250 m

60 – 65 %


Clear Ground


70 m

1250 m

60 – 65 %

40 Degrees vertically Downwards

Some obstacles like shrubs and few trees


38 m

1300 m

75 – 80 %


Clear Ground but very windy


90 m

1200 m + 22 m on tree top



Inside dense forest with thick foliage between ground and tree top.


22 m but not very clear. We had to move about to get clear range.

20 m on tree top



Inside forest with little foliage between ground and tree top.


20m clear transmission found.

Dr T Ganesh (ATREE Scientist) and Us.                                       Last ditch Code Changes!

Conclusion  The project is ON! Cheers!!

Monday Jan 19, 2009

Sun SPOTs in Rain forest!


The Sun SPOTS!

I had blogged about the project Canopee last time around. Me, and Vasusen Patil went for the complete requirement analysis and on-field prototype testing at the KMTR forest from January 8 - 13. We had a BLAST!!! Here I will present a short summary of our experience.

On January 8, we visited the ATREE head-office at Bangalore, and met Dr.T. Ganesan and Dr. Soubdra Devy. We gathered their requirements for sensors in the canopy. We were at the ATREE field station at KMTR from 9th to 12th. There, we interacted with Dr. T Ganesh who is leading the canopy research program on field. We studied the system of HOBO data-loggers that they have employed for monitoring temperature, light and humidity parameters in the canopy. We analyzed their mechanism of protecting the circuit from harsh weather conditions, and the reasons of failure of most data-loggers. We deployed the SPOT at one of their on-field monitoring sites to monitor temperature and light for 24 hours. Also, we tested the SPOTs extensively for wireless radio range in different conditions (varying in altitude, humidity, density, and vegetation).

Finally, we concluded that the range of the Sun SPOT is sufficient to send data wirelessly from the top of a tree to the ground in dense foliage. The readings for 24 hours that we obtained were also satisfactory and resembled closely the readings that the researches currently get using data-loggers. It was decided that a long-term deployment (about 2-4 months) of the SPOT in on-field conditions was necessary to conclude that the SPOTs could be used to design a system of wireless sensing at KMTR.

Coming up is a series of blogs that will highlight all details of various aspects of our visit including the Sun SPOT Range testing, The Rainforest experience, the Leech experience, the prototype testing results, and other ideas that came up during the visit.

So, stay tuned!

On top of the Indian Western Ghats!

Sunday Dec 28, 2008



Sun SPOTs have been my favourite technology siince long now and currently, we are working on a project called CANOPEE!

Website :

Project Aim:

It aims at providing a comprehensive suite for environmentalists that would assist them to monitor the environmental variables and analyse the results through self generated reports.

Sun Small Programmable Object Technology will be used for building the sensor network. The project will use MySQL database server at the back-end, Netbeans IDE as the development platform and iReport plug-in for Netbeans for generating reports.


Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) is built on a strong academic foundation and actively pursues investigations in the natural and social sciences, which form the basis for ongoing projects that are dedicated to outreach and education. The Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) , and the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, two important protected areas in India’s Western Ghats, have been long-standing foci of ATREE’s work in forest ecology. They have also undertaken a pioneering canopy research program at KMTR which is opening a new world of ecological understanding.

We have identified that collecting data on these covariates could be very easy, most precise and regular if an efficient Sun SPOT system could be developed. The project specifically aims at developing a sensor solution which will be tested and deployed at KMTR. See
Canopy Research for more details.

Long Term Goals:

1. Building SPOT Sensors

The Sun SPOTs will be used to build sensor nodes that can be deployed on field. The light and Temperature sensors are inbuilt in Sun SPOT. Other sensor IC's like humidity, soil moisture, pressure, CO2 content (If possible) should be interfaced and a compact moisture resistant node package capable of running independently for at-least 3 months should be developed.

The nodes should be able to record the values from all sensors attached after specific interval of time - typically after every 1/2 hour. The recorded values should be stored along with the time of recording and other required parameters. The Record Management Store (RMS) API will be used for the purpose.

The nodes should go into deep sleep mode when sensing is not done. During sensing the values the node should listen for a remote basestation. If Basestation is found in range, Nodes should send the collected data to the Database via basestation.

2. Building a Host Application Suite

The Host Application suite will have a neat GUI with options as given below:

  • Information about each deployed sensor (Its location, date deployed etc)

  • Options to search for sensors within range and collect stored data.

  • Complete analysis and status of sensor when found in range and capacity for OTA manipulation

  • Options to analyze the collected data and generate customized reports   

Short Term Goals:

The short term goals for the project are as follows:

  • Analyse the feasibility and scope of project. Also clarify exact requirements through regular mails with ATREE authorities.

  • Build a small prototype that will use the built-in temperature and light sensors in Sun SPOTs and record values on local test field (Near Nagpur, Maharashtra, India) The recorded values should be transmitted to base station database.

  • Design a Database that would store the data values and all sensor information.

  • Visit the KMTR forest in January (In December heavy rainfall is predicted) and test the temporary prototype on field. Also finalize the complete project requirements and start the implementation phase. Also study existing system and do in-depth cost Analysis.

  • Build a solution for extension of life of Sun SPOT. Currently according to theoretical calculations, Sun SPOT can safely work on field for 2 - 3 months. A external battery solution is currently being thought upon that could extend life by at least 1 - 2 months.

  • Identify sensor IC's that will be best suited for recording other required parameters and design a framework to interface the IC's with Sun SPOT in an efficient manner.

Project Members:

  1. Jay Mahadeokar

    IV Year, CSE.

  2. Vasusen Patil

    IV Year CSE

  3. Abhishek Kumar, IV Year Electronics
I will keep blogging about the progress of the project as it wears on!!

I am the Sun Campus Ambassador for SRKNEC, India. Here I will blog about my college activities,and Sun's open source technologies like Netbeans, Opensolaris, Sun SPOTs etc..


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