A lot of researchers want to build clever monitoring/management devices but have limited experience with engineering/embedded design. Open-source (OS) platforms such as Arduino have paved the way for more user-friendly design options, but these systems often still require multiple boards to produce a viable project. One of the most common elements of animal-borne electronics, for example, is that data be recorded at particular times, repeatedly, accurately and efficiently. Small, low power and easy to use options remain limited, making an OS timer a very useful tool for conservationists.
We propose broad scale testing of a new open-source prototype timer board that takes a lot of the challenges out of designing animal-borne and other time reliant systems and puts control in the hands of users. The prototype system features: Maxim DS3232 temperature compensated real-time clock Microchip ATSAMD21E16 microcontroller Four independent channels for modular devices An intuitive programming interface for scheduling events Potential applications include: Animal-borne GPS, camera and audio recording devices Time-lapse filming and photography Control of 6VDC/12VDC systems such as trail cameras, acoustic recorders, water pumps, gates, lights etc. The timer has already been designed to a fully-operational prototype level, with a modicum of successful in-house testing. What is required now is participation with a wider variety of collaborators who could benefit from a device like this. Conservation X Labs members are at the top of this list.
An important barrier our project will help to circumvent relates to engineering/technical knowledge. Our system uses an intuitive programming interface that allows users to write, in plain English, and following a few simple rules, the timing schedules to control devices. Time lines are visually presented to users, again, in an intuitive way, so that they can visually inspect schedules and ensure they are what users want.
To have 100 units tested in real-world scenarios. Once these tests are completed, we will refine the design, and consider additional changes, and then make a full release to open-source, whilst offering users low cost options at pre-assembled boards and devices.
Primarily, we need to produce 100 printed circuit boards and then have them tested both in-house, and independently by Conservation X Labs users.