About the Series
If our first season of Tech Tutors inspired you to put your conservation tech skills to the test, we've got a brand-new experience coming to WILDLABS! Where can you start learning how to use Arduino to build custom devices for wildlife and conservation research? Right here!
Beginning this November, WILDLABS and Freaklabs are proud to introduce an eight-part video tutorial series that guides wildlife and conservation researchers through building and deploying custom hardware using the Arduino platform. The series will use WildLogger - an Arduino-based board that’s designed for deployment - to create a custom data logger.
Are you new to Arduino, or maybe not entirely sure what Arduino is? Good news - this series is for beginners like you! By the end of our eight modules, you'll have the practical skills and knowledge base you need to deploy your creation for real.
The series assumes no hardware experience. It’ll cover common terminology, components, the hardware design stack, setting up the Arduino environment, programming and optimising your application, choosing and modifying enclosures, piloting, testing, deploying and troubleshooting.
You’re not on your own. Our interactive series makes it easier than ever to get feedback and guidance as you learn. Every two weeks, we’ll host a live Office Hours event to troubleshoot, answer questions in person, and release the next module in the series. We'll also have cheat sheets and code to download, plus a forum to ask questions between sessions. And of course, you can build along with the course in real-time with the WildLogger board and kit, available here.
To join this virtual course, register here!
(Note: The schedule below will be updated soon to reflect our new module release dates and live events.)
Meet Your Tutors: Akiba and Jacinta, Freaklabs
Akiba has a background in electronics and product design and has been designing circuits for the past 25 years. He’s taught for MIT Media Lab and has been a researcher there as well as Keio University and Osaka University in Japan. His specialty is in wireless sensor networks and worked on the Zigbee standard as well as other communications standards. His work has gravitated towards technology for environmental monitoring and is now working on wildlife conservation.
Freaklabs develops environmental monitoring technology in partnership with individual researchers, conservation organisations, NGOs and governments. We’ve worked with The World Bank, International Rice Research Institute and UNESCO.
Our projects include adding audio triggers to camera traps in the Serengeti to monitor predator/prey responses, monitoring the GPS and liquid levels in sanitation trucks in Egypt to prevent illegal dumping into the Nile, monitoring water levels in rice paddy fields in Philippines for more sustainable water management, and radiation monitoring in Japan.
We also started Tokyo Hackerspace and Hackerfarm in Japan where we experiment with organic and regenerative agriculture and technology.
- I don’t know anything about hardware. Is this for me? Yes! We’re assuming no hardware experience.
- I don’t have any programming experience. Is this for me? You’ll need to be familiar with standard programming principles such as loops, conditional statements, arrays and variables.
- I have experience with Arduino and building custom hardware. Is this for me? We hope so! We’ll go through ways to make your device more reliable and robust in the field. We’ll cover power optimisation, crimping connectors, choosing waterproof connectors and cable glands, field kits and troubleshooting once you’re in the field.
- How much does it cost? The tutorial is free (register here). If you want to purchase the WildLogger board and kit, it costs $30. You can purchase it from here: https://cutt.ly/freaklabs-wildlogger-kit
- Do I need to purchase the WildLogger board and kit? No. You’ll still learn the fundamentals of hardware development, how the Arduino platform works, optimising your device, piloting, testing and deployment, just by watching the videos. This knowledge can be applied to any Arduino-based device, and/or custom development. We’re using WildLogger because it’s specially designed for deployment which means it has features not available on standard Arduino boards. For example, the standard Arduino microcontroller doesn't have enough memory to run all the functions needed in a data logger so we've designed WildLogger using a compatible chip with more memory. We've also added an SD card, a dedicated connector for PIR motion sensing, two sensor connectors, and a weatherproof enclosure. We have a limited number of WildLogger boards available. If you want one, you can purchase it here.
- Do I need any special equipment or software? You’ll need to install Arduino IDE (Integration Development Environment) from here. You can purchase WildLogger from here. You can also follow most of the modules with a standard Arduino such as Arduino Uno, here. We’ll take you through installing and setting everything up.
- I’m on a Mac / Windows / Linux. Is that ok? Yes. Arduino works on all platforms.
- What if I can’t make the live office hours? Send in your question before the live office hours! We’ll be recording the live event and will make sure your question is covered, so you'll be able to catch up afterwards via the WILDLABS youtube channel. You can also post your question or problem to the forum.
- Is WildLogger open source? Yes. You can take the designs and make modifications as you like.
- Can I deploy WildLogger in the field for my research? Yes. However, WildLogger and this tutorial series is designed for training, and to get you familiar with Arduino and hardware deployment considerations. We recommend piloting and testing any custom devices as much as possible so you’re confident they’re reliable and you can collect quality data once they’re live in the field. Also let us know how you use it. Although the series will focus on a humidity and temperature sensor, there are many other sensors that can be fitted to it as well.
The Series Schedule
Visit our Couse Directory to navigate through all course content and supporting resources.
We'll update this schedule with links to modules, events and extra support content as they go live.
- Course Introduction and Q&A
- Module 1: Understand the Hardware
- Module 2: Setting up the Arduino IDE
- Module 3.1: Programming Basic Functionality
- Module 3.2: Temperature and Humidity Settings
- Module 3.3: Measuring Battery Status
- Module 3.4: Real Time Clock
- Module 3.5: SD Card
- Module 3.6: Interrupts
- Module 4: Tying it all together
- Module 5: Optimising your Application
- Module 6: Ruggedising Devices
- Module 7: Testing and Piloting
- Module 8: In the Field
- End of course survey