Data collection is, if not the heart, then certainly one of the most critical organs in scientific research. Much effort has been put in the hardware to take readings and store the data, but what about getting these tools into everyone’s hands, and effectively sharing the data through stories and interactive visualizations? That’s the idea behind FieldKit, an ecosystem consisting of FieldKit.org, an app for iOS and Android, and a hardware package to actually acquire the data.
As described in its project writeup, “FieldKit’s mission is to break down the barriers to environmental sensing.” This means a lower cost for such devices, as well as empowering everyone — not just dedicated scientists, engineers, and researchers — to gather data about our world. Importantly, FieldKit’s initiative includes the ability to accomplish “scientifically rigorous monitoring that doesn’t tie you to unnecessarily proprietary formats or clunky software tools.”
Hardware-wise, the unit uses a modular design with a backplane that supports multiple modules as needed, plus a lower board with a Microchip ATWINC1500 module for WiFi communication and an FGPMMOPA6H for GPS readings.
An upper board connects to the lower, featuring a SAM D51 MCU, an RTC module, SPI NAND Flash memory, and a small OLED display. The device includes battery charging circuitry and a power monitor to let you know how long you have to study the environment.
FieldKit appears to still be in its infancy, but be sure to check out the demo video below to see how it could be used. The project is open source, and files are available on GitHub.
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Author: Jeremy S. Cook