Final Position Statement:
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 cause environmental damage. However, it can be used in any body of water to test acidity levels.
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. As the pHloat is placed in a body of water or stream it is taking a constant pH reading that is being translated by the arduino to produce a variation of colored light. 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 should be attached to each pHloat so it can easily be retrieved from the 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.
The pHloat has undergone a couple major design changes. It was first made from several recyclable materials including a large array of plastic bottles to allow it to float on water, which made it much larger in size. In the redesign, several form changes were made. pHloat2 is about half the size of the original design but still functions the same. pHloat2 can still be made from several recycled materials including but not limited to Styrofoam, plastic food containers, rope, and paper. If these materials cannot be found they can be purchased along with the necessary electrical components for approximately $25. The kit has also been scaled down down to save on material cost and waste. Instructions can be found in the kit, on instructables.com and at the blog phloatkits.tumblr.com
The kit is best suited for anyone interested in pursuing an entry level arduino based project or lower level science class interested in pollution effects on water quality. The kit is easy to assemble and a fun way to investigate building fro recyclable materials, use of microcontrollers, and practicing sustainable paper structures.