Low-Power Snow Depth Sensor Monitoring for IoT Smart City Based On Wio-E5 Applied in Norway

With the development of meteorological science and technology, meteorological observation is gradually automated. Snow cover is a major meteorological disaster. Do you ever worry that when winter comes, build-up snow starts to damage your roads, driveways, parking lots and roofs?

Deep snow dangers

As the Civil and Structural engineer Todd Fratzel wrote in a post on Maintenance, Roofing, Safety: “Each year heavy snowfall is responsible for severe damage to homes. Deep snow can cause structural damage and water damage. In addition, deep snow can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and serious fall injuries.” 

Thus, effectively monitoring the accumulated snow cover over time can facilitate the road traffic, expressway, aviation industry, and meteorological personnel to understand better the meteorological disaster caused by snow cover, and make corresponding treatment plans to ensure the smooth road and the safety of people’s property. 

Multiple sensors are needed in winter locations

Let’s see how Eivind made a device that can measure how much snow has accumulated on the ground. It is able to run on small batteries for years, survive sub-zero (Celcius) temperatures, and uses LoRaWAN to transmit measurements to the internet for further processing.

Eivind Holt is a software developer in the field of e-health who has tinkered with electronics and 3D printers in his spare time for the last few years. Besides, he is always passionate about IoT and loves to share his journey at his local maker space and has written a few guides, mainly on hackster and element14. 

Eivind Holt: Credit by PhotographerSebastian Loraas

He pointed out that this project started out of necessity – he wanted his wake-up alarm to go off an hour earlier if there was a need for clearing out snow from our rather long driveway. In his windy town, he will need several sensors deployed to account for variable build-up. 

Frankly speaking, Low-Power snow depth sensor couldn’t be more practical and valuable, further to say, this could have many practical applications, including

  • Road snow clearing
  • Property management, avoiding roop collapse
  • Parking lots
  • Electrical grid management
  • Airfield maintenance

Credit by PhotographerSebastian Loraas

After many unremitting attempts and efforts, Eivind Bravely Break through the limitations of hardware and explored a suitable sensor for measuring snow depth. He did a lot of searching for what principles others have used for measuring snow build-up. 

The sensor he finally used, HRXL-MaxSonar MB7374, is specifically designed for taking readings against the characteristics of different types of snow surfaces present. It is also waterproof and rated IP67.

Seeed Wio-E5 plays a key role in Long battery life and transmission range

Actually, Wio-E5 is the first SoC to combine a LoRa RFIC (SX126X) with an MCU (STM32WLE5JC) embedded in a single module. Designed with low energy but high performance, low cost, and compact applications in mind, the FCC and CE-certified Wio-E5 LoRaWAN® module is ideal for long-distance, ultra-low-power applications such as airport tracking, smart agriculture, smart city, wireless meter reading, sensor networks, wireless communication, and other low-power wide-area IoT scenarios. 

With its small form factor, LoRaWAN-radio, and low-energy features, it’s perfect for this project!

We know that the Wio-E5 mini is a compact-sized development board suitable for the rapid testing and building of small-size prototyping and helps you design your ideal LoRaWAN wireless IoT device to achieve a transmission range of up to 10 km in an open area and ultra-low power consumption. What’s more, the development board feels solid and sports a USB-C connector. Beware, this connector is only for powering the device and for serial communication. 

Outdoor Proof-Of-Concept in Pretty Harsh Conditions

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at how to implement a proof of concept outdoors. As far as we know, Eivind spent half of the project time designing a watertight enclosure and 3D-printing it using a resin SLA-printer. Accommodating both the antenna and the sensor was quite a challenge, he ended up designing an enclosure that allowed the electronics to rotate while screwing the sensor in. Rubber washers provided seals.

Fantastic 3D-printing

In this process, the developer chooses a printer that works well and consistently and eliminates the need for further measures to obtain a watertight shell. The printing process went without errors, but he still needed to do some iterations to obtain perfect fitting parts and to add some text in case it got lost. 

If you have a project that has reached this stage, Seeed Fusion can give you a helping hand. We also provide 3D Printing service with a wide variety of materials and methods: SLA,SLM,SLS,MFJ printing for nylon, SLA, stainless steel, and more. With professionally finished and only materials of the highest grade used.

Amazing Propagation Effect After The Project Release

After the device had been live for a month, it transmitted 2600 measurements. He is pleasantly surprised the sensor isn’t as reliant on a straight angle to the surface as he had feared. Surface roughness seems to reflect enough sound waves. 

Even more surprising, the project was reported by a prominent Local Norwegian newspaper outlet, and the developer mentioned that several municipalities have shown interest in adapting the sensor!  We will work together for a better world!

Norwegian Newspaper Outlet

Credit by PhotographerSebastian Loraas

Get your Wio-E5 project manufactured for FREE with Seeed Fusion PCB Assembly Service

To accelerate the development of the IoT industry to the next level, Seeed is 100% sponsoring Wio-E5 projects with the Seeed Fusion PCB Assembly Service for all hardware enthusiasts, designers, makers, and engineers around the world!

Good ideas need to be discovered, and good projects deserve to be recognized, realized and widely disseminated! Each person is limited to two PCBA boards 100% completely FREE for one design, including PCB fabrication, the cost of parts, assembly, and shipping. The design must include Wio-E5.

If you have an interesting concept for Wio-E5 and are willing to share it with the community, share it with us and we can help you make it a reality with Seeed Fusion’s one-stop-shop capabilities. Get 2 boards fabricated and assembled completely free with Seeed Fusion’s turnkey PCB Assembly service.

Furthermore, choose all your parts from the PCBA Open Parts Libraries (OPL) and reduce the lead time to as little as 7 working days. Meanwhile, if you have mass production requirements, we highly recommend taking advantage of the Seeed Fusion PCB Assembly service and getting the Wio-E5 modules for only US$7.90 (28% discount, original price US$10.90).

Take action to bring your Wio-E5 projects to the next level!

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February 2022