The following is a video of our new auto-calibration capability. Previously it took a big effort to calibrate the GaugeCam water measurement software because it was necessary to specify a region of interest for each of the calibration target ficucials. In addition, the previous algorithm struggled with degraded images. This video demonstrates the new ease of use and calibration robustness even with bad images.
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at NC State was hosting a conference: “Stewards of the future: Research for Human Health and Global Sustainability“. Along with the conference, CALS hosted its Innovation Fair. GaugeCam had its booth entitled: ‘Hydrology for all: measuring water level using webcams’.
Our booth had posters, videos, a slide show of how the system works and of results, live data streaming from the field and a display of the GaugeCam hardware.
We must admit that few people did stop by but we did obtain some true interest and that was good. Thanks to the conference, we did make quite a bit of progress on the live web site.
GaugeCam began to investigate ways to actuate weirs, pumps, lighting and other equipment at their remote camera locations a couple of years ago. As part of the investigation, we purchased several Arduino micro-controllers. At the time, the NCSU BAE department used expensive PLC’s (programmed in ladder logic) to control their equipment out in the field. A low-end system typically cost them around $600. List price for an Arduino micro-controller with similar functionality costs between $35-80 (USD). The Arduinos we use have between 14 and 64 digital I/O, several microsecond timers, and an staggering array of optional add-ons. It is programmed in C, so there is not much of a learning curve to know how to use them.
We have a variety of micro-controllers that work with GaugeCam cameras and to control light position on some of our lab setups. When Dr. Birgand saw this, he wondered whether we could use the much less expensive micro-controllers to run some pumps and other equipment both in the lab and out in the field. He put one of the lab assistants to work learning to program the equipment and now, several months later, they have developed a couple of solutions that are more flexible, smaller, lighter, and more capable, not to mention much cheaper than the previous solution.
This is an example of one of several synergies that has occurred as a result of the collaboration between GaugeCam and the NCSU BAE department. Even though we do not plan to use Arduinos as actuators on our remote camera products (we are several months away from an exciting announcement in that regard), still, the research has contributed the effectiveness and capability of the lab in the performance of their on-going research.