While tech itself sometimes is hard enough, the real challenge today is to assemble commodity hardware and software into functional and usable systems.
When starting the project in 2014, we have been unsatisfied with the current state that different efforts in the area of open source beehive monitoring would use different kinds of data sinks and backend systems, thus making it difficult for truly collaborative data collection efforts to interoperate.
We take the challenge in the area of open source beehive monitoring to lower the bar for starting own beehive monitoring projects significantly by building upon a mature stack of proven hardware- and software components.
We have been inspired by Other projects sharing similar ambitions and would like to give some of our efforts back to the community.
No vendor lock-in¶
The increasing use of commercial IoT cloud services in otherwise open source projects gave reason to worry. This, while looking attractive at first, wasn’t a path we wanted to take.
Abundance for all, the decision for building a true open platform was promoted through recent stories from the industry about different kinds of vendor lock-in effects, costs spiraling out of control and - last but not least - cloud service backend systems actively supporting customer devices in the field going completely out of service, effectively bricking all the devices at once. This happened to a number of customers of such products in quick succession 2016 and will probably continue to do so.
In contrast to that, all of our system components are available under libre software licenses like GPL and AGPL and open hardware licenses like OHL.
The primary goal is to gain insight into the environment inside the beehive by collecting environmental data using affordable microcontroller and sensor hardware. The telemetry data is transmitted to the data collection backend for storage, postprocessing, redistribution, visualization and analysis.
The constraints are somewhat harsh in all terms of efficiency, flexibility and robustness.
Software running on the embedded sensor node devices and on the backend side are both available under libre software licenses like GPL and AGPL.
- The first labs beehive is online since February 2016 in Berlin Wedding.
- We receive Live data from the hive and already have been able to record and discuss some Events from bees or other conditions.
- The source code of all software components - from embedded to backend - is available on GitHub since July 2016. See also Hiveeyes GitHub.
- Make it easy for beekeepers to send data already collected with existing systems by further improving the documentation and adding more data sink interfaces like CoAP or just plain HTTP with “x-www-form-urlencoded” or CSV serialization formats.
- Make it possible for everyone to rebuild and make use of the toolkit on her own by further improving the documentation, working through more iterations and streamlining the prototypes into one or two designated hardware models, favorably supported by custom PCBs to reduce assembly time.
- Get started with LoRa and integrate an apidictor into Labhive One.
- The stretch goal is to let the system evolve into an open toolkit to support collaborative data collection and sensor network projects in and around the scientific environmental monitoring community.
- The system should continuously meet demands on both small- and large-scale projects, always keeping up the “instant-on” effect.
- Reapplied to beehive monitoring, this could be a powerful foundation for building a distributed “seismographic” sensor network, an objective shared by other similar ambitious projects.