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Sensing Resilience - Workshop

Learning how to use the system, sharing with the local community, developing a system for use in the Time's Up garden to trace the state of various plant beds.


  • together with Kon-Hyong Kim and Muhammad Hafiz Wan Rosli
  • 7th of May | 3 - 9 PM | Time's Up | Industriezeile 33b | 4020 Linz

Join Kon-Hyong Kim and Muhammad Hafiz Wan Rosli for their introduction and implementation of the SINUNI sensor-system, currently under development by the Arctic Perspective Initiative (API) and the SYSTEMICS lab at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

Please register by sending an e-mail to - limited number of participants For more information look:

The workshop will comprise the presentation of the SINUNI architecture and a hands on section, including the implementation of the network and its solutions in the context of the Time’s Up gardening endeavours - in particular the Non-Green-Gardening project by Natalia Borissova.

In 2010 and 2011 API developed and experimentally deployed a robust open hardware sensor network and communication system, the SILAMILU NUNAMULU NIPILIURUTI in short sinuni.

The SINUNI is an extremely low power, compact, modular and waterproof portable computing and recording family of devices, based on the Arduino architectures, implementing a true mesh networking capability through low power radio and precise geo-location. Its modular sensor architecture records basic meteorological, position and movement data, but it can be outfitted with an array of sensors as diverse as water turbidity, temperature, salinity and p.e. light quality and structure measurements. The open standards used in the software and hardware development ensure that the system can be built, modified and replicated. The units will also enable geo-located audio recording and wildlife observations and note taking through a simple, robust and intuitive interface.

SINUNI will serve as a sensor device of choice for recording field work data and travels and versions of it can be implemented at fixed locations, for instance to monitor soil and nutrients conditions in the RESILIENT gardens like the Non-Green-Garden at the Time's Up Labs.

Workshop Notes :: Live

Starting with remote presentation from Marko via skype. Skype breakup!

Local communities owning the maps and the data. Journeys that track places and landmasses. “Computer with a Fancy name” to display many types of environmental data. Arctic Perspective Project website and the books - free downloads. “Autonomy through Technology” website.

Mesh networks. Autonomous systems. Central collection point in the mesh. Travelling nodes can collect data and pass it on. So isolated nodes can be integrated and then collected with e.g. autonomous vehicles. Quick arduino introduction. Vegetronics soil temperature and moisture. Air temperature and humidity. sunshine sensor = light dependent resistor.


first steps: LDR as input.

Vegetronics: moisture and temperature as analogue inputs, needs some mathematical interpretation.

SHT15 digital sensor utilises 2-wire communication with the arduino.


Xbee is a radio module Digi International 802.15.4 protocol, point to point, point to multipoint and mesh network. Many versions - be careful. series 1 and 2 are also mutually incompatible. needs serial terminal to configure. Suggested to use CoolTerm for Windows and Mac. For Linux use putty: apt-get putty 9600 baudrate, 8-N-1 format the pin spacing is 2mm parameters are set with AT commands, see: here

For windows it seems better to use x-ctu, which is a Digikey product. This is also the only way to write firmware into the Xbee. a tutorial and the software. But it is hard to get from the site, use a file downloader (suggestion Kenny). download site

Note that while the Arduino environment now (from version 1.0) includes the FTDI drivers, you will need to install them manually for Coolterm to be able to speak over the USB connection as a serial connection. It almost works without them, only not quite!

all Xbees into broadcast mode, so all can type to all. we use transparent mode, atap0, then save. there is also an API mode. there is a library for arduino to use the API mode. Basic usage is to connect Din and Dout on Xbee to RxTx on Arduino and use serial.print

sending floats is best done by turning them into a byte array and sending the bytes.

each node will send 5 floats plus the node ID, then a termination character tilde: ~


Question arose: how open is the Xbee system, proprietary, compared to e.g. the various 2.4 GHz systems that are used with various other mesh network systems, e.g. Freifunk and Funkfeuer. Ideas as to temperature resilience arose, power requirements as well. There are probably a (large) number of factors. This discussion could be very interesting.

Built It

Stackable headers. Not neccesary to make things work BUT it does allow multiple extension boards to be stacked.

level converters for the SHT15. 3.3V to 5V and vice versa.

Lots of soldering going on. De-soldering and re-soldering. The joy of electronics!

The Vegetronics sensors need 3V plus, some will have 3.3V supplies, the others will have 5V.

2025: starting to get the units in boxes and to get arduinos programmed

The code is/will be attached as a ZIP - many examples and things. (apologies: DokuWiki does not seem to make it easy to attach files, we will find some place for them).

Discussion about the problems of condensation. Reports of the local FunkFeuer project with one node having several millimeters of water pooling in the bottom of the enclosure. The best approach seems to be to have a drainage hole at the bottom. Silica Gel as a water absorber might also be good, but some reports have said that this can get mushy and then it is not helping any more either.

The sticker on the Pelican waterproof boxes need to be removed to let the light in for the light sensor. To remove the glue residue we have found that peanut oil works very well, and have heard that orange oil might be very effective as well.

2220 All units have shown signs of life, trying to get them into boxes and working as data senders.

Equipment List


Hafiz: hafiz at

Kenny: kenny_911 at

Other possible options:

Ideas for afterwards

For participants who are having / have just had their first connection with Arduinos, some things might be useful as you move on.

There are Arduino starter kits that include many sensors to experiment with. Please help by adding some that you have had some experience with.

Getting a breadboard can make life easier. Go to Aigner in Linz or Conrad if you have to. No, go to Aigner - support your local scene!

The software Fritzing can help take a breadboard circuit that you have built up and give you a schematic to see what you have made (this might also help you find the problem with what you have made!). Fritzing can also apparently make a PCB design for you so that you can make a stable and safe version of your circuit.

There are several projects with mesh networking and data collection. We even tried as part of the 2011 Pachube Hackathon Day and had some success. WRT, FunkFeuer and Arduino using Pachube. Not the easiest solution and pachube is a closed source solution, but cheap.

For data collection we have been recommended to look at Thingspeak as an open solution. We look forward to learning more about it in the future.

some workshop_notes

resilients/sinuni_workshop.txt · Last modified: 2016/08/10 08:11 by nik