pHloat is a DIY kit that is made for use in conjunction with a pre-owned / pre-existing arduino microcontroller. Its purpose is to test the pH levels in local rivers, lakes, and streams due to the influx of air and water pollution often caused by acid rain. It is specifically designed to be used in areas that are home to refineries, chemical plants, and manufacturing industries that are causing environmental damage. However, it can be used in any body of water to test acidity levels.
pHloat has the option to be made from several recycled materials including but not limited to, plastic water bottles, scrap wood, aluminum containers, rope, and paper. If these materials cannot be found they can be purchased along with the necessary electrical components for approximately $25. pHloat functions through the modification of a simple garden moisture and pH sensor that can be purchased at any home improvement store. It acts as both an environmental measurement tool and a floating sculpture, borrowing inspiration from Japanese floating paper lanterns and a DIY buoy design found on instructables.com. As the pHloat navigates down a stream it is taking a constant pH reading that is being translated by the arduino to produce a variation of colored light (produced by a low energy and cost superbright RGB LED). The different colors of light indicate the level of acidity in the body of water. For example, a normal pH reading would result in the emission of green light while a high pH reading would result in the emission of blue light. The light is housed on the top of the pHloat and is illuminated under a paper origami shade. As to not further contribute to environmental pollution, a rope (not pictured in the 3d models) should be attached to each pHloat so it can easily be retrieved from the water (this allows for the pHloats to also be affixed to a particular area measuring passing water).
pHloat is designed to create a social awareness of pollution in local rivers, streams, and lakes. It also functions as visual expression of concern for the emission of dangerous chemicals into our atmosphere. pHloats are designed to be released together to ultimately create floating mobile sculptures. Thus initiating a social space that engages locals living in the midst of these manufacturing industries to begin a dialogue about their environmental conditions.
I personally intend to create several of these to test the waters in my hometown of Lima, Ohio. Lima is home to a multitude of manufacturing plants including, Husky Oil Refinery, Procter & Gamble, The Lima Tank Plant, Ford Engine Plant, The Dana Corporation, and Superior metal. All of which emit some form of pollution (though not admittedly) into the local environment. The largest local park, where many of the track and cross-country teams practice, is also located adjacent to the oil refinery and the air quality is often unbearable. Though the concern for acid rain pollution has somewhat diminished, I am interested in finding out if it is still a viable problem in areas that have a high level of toxic waste emission.
EPA Information about Acid Rain: http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/index.html
Design inspiration from Buoy Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/BUOY/
Leads of pH sensor
pHloat with origami shade
Due 3/2/10 at 5pm: 5 Scanned Fabrication Plans
Due 3/10/10 Phase 1: Constructions
First completed pHloat
First completed pHloat. Rope to be attached to weight (rock) so it stays in place in water.
Detail of the top and circuit board.