Gingerbread Man
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:57 am

Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:23 pm

Hi all.

I live on a rural property in Australia that utilises water tanks to provide the house water. I'm intrigued by automation and data, and being a plumber by trade, the plumbing naturally takes my interest. I wanted a way to monitor the water tank levels (we have two identical tanks, possibly a third in the future, but they're all connected together so I can just double or multiply the contents of one tank by what I have.
A while back I bought an off the shell solution (something like this - https://www.mydeal.com.au/new-ultrasoni ... JUQAvD_BwE) and it turned out to be a dud and never really worked. Anyhow, the idea of a monitor and display or an app/ webpage seems like what I'm after. Saves me going out and climbing a ladder to peer down into the water tanks!

Is the Raspberry Pi the solution for me? I've never used one or even laid my hands on one but Googling around suggests that it could be. There seem to be a few tutorials around for other projects, not all using the Pi mind.

Ideally:
Powered by a long lasting battery or best solution - solar powered for a hands off, maintenance free life. It'll be on top of a tank so in the sun, but a pain, although not impossible to get to.

The tanks are only a stones throw from the house, so should be able to use the house Wifi to broadcast.

Nice to be able to have a webpage/ app or similar that can be loaded up and display a % of how much water I have in the tank.

I do have another tank down in the garden (~50m from the house) which is soon to be plumbed in and used to feed animal troughs/ garden beds. Not sure if that would be too far away, but if I could replicate what I end up with on the household tanks down there and then to show up as a seperate tank. That would be spot on.

Am I wanting too much or could a novice like me set something up without too much hassle? I have tried to find an off the shelf solution, but they easily jump from cheap and analog to extensive commercial farming systems that are many hundreds of dollars!

Thoughts? Thanks all.

PhatFil
Posts: 1640
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:55 pm
Location: Oxford UK

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:18 pm

The off the shelf solution you looked at uses the sort of approach that imho you should perhaps consider too
https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-distance-sensor/
should illustrate the point.

I also think an 'is empty' alarm could be usefull and for that i like these sensors as theyhave NO MOVING PARTS unlike the usual float switch..

https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/283696056246?c ... 9wQAvD_BwE

LTolledo
Posts: 3049
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:29 am
Location: Anime Heartland

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:25 pm

If it were me, I'd use "old school" OMRON 61F-IN floatless level sensor with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.
the sensor will give me (depending on the setting of the sensors in the tank) low level, intermediate level and high level,
as well as alarm on high and low level.
and display the status on a small monitor (programmed via python).

as the outputs of the sensor are "dry contacts" it can be coupled to the RPi just like normal switches.

I may need to run some long wires from the level sensor rods (located at the top of the tank) to the lever sensor controller.
it does work even on "hard water"
"Don't come to me with 'issues' for I don't know how to deal with those
Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

Some people be like:
"Help me! Am drowning! But dont you dare touch me nor come near me!"

jbudd
Posts: 1259
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:23 am

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:49 pm

I suggest an ESP8266 microcontroller at the tank to take sensor readings and transmit them by MQTT to a Raspberry Pi in the house.

The Pi runs an MQTT broker (Mosquitto) and Node-Red to collate and display the results on a web page.

Node-Red has a drag and drop web based interface making it very easy to add in more sensors or send an email if the water reaches a particular level etc.

Gingerbread Man
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:57 am

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:01 pm

Right thanks for the replies folks. I have just had a look at the links. Apologies for the delay, mad times at the moment.

Mostly went over my head hahah. Where do I start to get a grapple on all of this? Happy to buy a set of components and join them together, but guess I'll also need some programming?

jbudd
Posts: 1259
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:23 am

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:14 am

There is an example using Node-Red at https://developer.ibm.com/recipes/tutor ... ng-system/
That has an ultrasonic sensor connected directly to the Pi and it says "Almost no coding required"

If you were to connect the sensor to an ESP rather than directly to the Pi you would have to program the ESP to send readings to the Pi, possibly using the Arduino IDE. I'm sure you can find a recipe online for this. You would have to install Mosquitto on the Pi too, and adjust the Node-Red flow to get it's input data from MQTT.

wh7qq
Posts: 1427
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:50 am

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:57 am

Many years ago, I ran a hemodialysis center that had a 1K gal. storage tank for pure water from an RO machine that ran all night. It used a set of reed relays inside a sealed long poly tube, activated by a donut shaped magnet that rode on the outside of the poly tube with a float. An RPi could easily do that, with the reeds just working GPIO inputs. This system had to work 24/7/365 and it did.

The RPi could be in a weather proof box on the side of the tank rather than on top. Easy to access. It could also be done with an Arduino with WiFi or a Nodemcu. The computer would be an elaboration. It would be easy to do with simple lights or LEDs connected to the reed switches and zero programming.

Gingerbread Man
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:57 am

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:06 am

jbudd wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:14 am
There is an example using Node-Red at https://developer.ibm.com/recipes/tutor ... ng-system/
That has an ultrasonic sensor connected directly to the Pi and it says "Almost no coding required"

If you were to connect the sensor to an ESP rather than directly to the Pi you would have to program the ESP to send readings to the Pi, possibly using the Arduino IDE. I'm sure you can find a recipe online for this. You would have to install Mosquitto on the Pi too, and adjust the Node-Red flow to get it's input data from MQTT.
That looks pretty easy. Nice run through, thanks for that. Are there many different Pi's?

Right so I think the Raspberry Pi Zero will serve my needs. Wifi and small form. I think the others look over powered for my needs? Thoughts?

JohnsUPS
Posts: 166
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:13 am
Location: USA

Re: Water tank level monitoring. Skill level required?

Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:31 pm

wh7qq wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:57 am
Many years ago, I ran a hemodialysis center that had a 1K gal. storage tank for pure water from an RO machine that ran all night. It used a set of reed relays inside a sealed long poly tube, activated by a donut shaped magnet that rode on the outside of the poly tube with a float. An RPi could easily do that, with the reeds just working GPIO inputs. This system had to work 24/7/365 and it did.
If I were to monitor a water tank and didn't need a really precise readout, this (above) would be how I would do it.
Obviously the more reed relays in the row along the inside of the poly tube, the more granular the output would be.
I have always been a fan of elegant simplicity as long as it will do the job.

Return to “General discussion”