SMARTi technology connects the incompatible

SMARTi is an intelligent universal interface that enables you to connect a wide range of different instruments to data loggers that have SDI-12 serial data capability.

New types of environmental measuring instruments are becoming available all the time, enabling us to make a greater variety of measurements. But it’s not always possible to connect a sensing instrument directly to a data logger. They may be electrically incompatible or not ‘speak the same language’. But put a SMARTi between them and they become compatible. And if you can’t use wires to connect a sensor to a logger, you can use one of SMARTi’s wireless options.

SMARTi applications

SMARTi can read and interpret serial data from multi-parameter instruments.

In our latest application we use a SMARTi to connect an air particulate monitor to a data logger at two Nelson City Council (NCC) urban air quality monitoring sites. These MfE-funded monitoring systems gather baseline meteorological, particulate, and other air quality information as part of a national initiative to establish air quality standards.

The air particulate data is presented alongside weather data and retrieved at the NCC office using cellular telemetry. The particulate monitor flags when a site visit is needed to carry out the occasional manual tasks required by the particulate samplers.

Other multi-parameter instruments we’ve programmed SMARTi to talk to include:

  • Airmar WeatherStation PB100 (16 weather parameters and station velocity)
  • Wetlabs Ecotriplet (water quality – chlorophyll,  suspended sediment, temperature)
  • RDI Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (profile of water velocity)
  • A&D Company digital scales (precision weighing)
  • Seabird CTD water quality profiler (water conductivity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen).

Other SMARTi tricks

SMARTi also has switched outputs that allow you to turn devices on and off under specific conditions, or via the SDI bus. For example, SMARTi can control a pump, such as that in the NIWA Squirtek. This squirts a small amount of bromine across an optical window to prevent biofouling, which may otherwise degrade the accuracy of optics-based measurements made with underwater instruments.

SMARTi can make an analog sensor ‘look like’ an SDI sensor.  If you want to retrieve analog data via an SDI bus, simply connect a single SMARTi between the analog sensor/s (up to four) and the bus. SMARTi converts the analog data to digital data and allows direct connection to the three-wire SDI bus.

And if you can’t run wires between your sensors and recorder, use a wireless SMARTi at each end. The Zigbee data communications option may be used over distances of up to 1.5 km.

Contact

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Principal Technician - Instrument Systems
The SMARTi intelligent universal interface (Photo: Dave Gibb, NIWA)
The SMARTi
Research subject: Instrumentation