I’m looking for someone to assist me in the development of a frost prediction and mitigation device.
Simply put. The microprocessor based device will use an array of sensors to detect to onset of frost conditions. Once enough prerequisites have been met the system will output a signal that will be used to trigger the mitigation process.
I already have a list of the sensors required and some process.
Unfortunately this requires more skill than I have in this area.
This device has no peer in the market and there are a list of farmers, growers and other parties that could make excellent use of the device so the market is there.
That said, I’m not all that interest becoming a squilianare from selling the device, I’d just like to help it come into being.
Some project. I could be wrong but I think the requirements for the familiar “white” frost would be air temperature, ground temperature and humidity which are all measurable. Over a small area anyway. An area of several or hundreds of acres could be a different ball game.
You will have to forgive my “non woke” terminology here but there is also what used to be known as “black” frost where the ground is cold enough to freeze without the white crystals formed with humidity. Fairly common in areas away from the coast and sea.
What variety are you interested in. Both I would imagine so a humidity reading might be irrelevant. Temperature measurement is all good but how are you going to “predict” these events. Interesting.
Just as importantly how are you going to mitigate or prevent this happening. You could have a lot of area to warm up. You might create a wind with fans but that might prevent a “white” frost forming but won’t change the ground temperature.
Although I have no specific suggestions the project is interesting. Monitoring temperature and humidity would not be that difficult. On what scale would you have to do this and what sort of areas are involved. You mentioned farmers so that implies larger.
You also imply that the final result may be a commercial venture. As this is more a “maker” or hobbyist think tank the prospective commercial nature could cause a bit of concern. I for one am a bit nervous when a project starts to look commercial.
I’ve removed your phone number from your post since this forum is open to the whole wide internet and there’s a risk you end up receiving endless telemarketing calls. If anybody wanted to reach out to you they can direct message you by clicking on your name.
Can you tell us a bit more about the range of area you want this device to monitor for frost conditions and how far away it would need to signal your other devices? Would this also need to be a battery-operated device and run continuously or just come on every now and then?
Thanks for your timely response.
Firstly, while the project has the potential to be commercially viable that’s not really my interest.
As a farmer with an IT background, Im sick of watching small farmers loosing their shirts and good food wasted over a very addressable problem.
One of the critical issues is radiation frost. That is the heat loss the earth experiences when we have clear skies and still air. They combined the the other issues you mentioned.
Sensor are available to address all of these perimeters and if combined with a micro processor and some code would provide a simple solution.
I would envisage the unit running on low voltage dc and thus allow flexibility in power options. Battery/solar of plugged into an isolated transformer.
I plugged the idea into gptchat and it spat out a complete list of components and the code to run it. The project really just requires some applied talent to bring it into fruition.
I imagine it would take a few versions to get right but the components are inexpensive I don’t see that being a problem.
If you are interested in taking an in-depth look at how we can achieve this let me know.
I think the sensing and some sort of control signalling is possibly the easy part of the problem.
Once a situation is established that requires some remedial action what are you intending to do about it. A daunting task to heat up a whole or part of a farm. Ideally you would have to start this process well before any frost was formed as it would be very hard to shift once it gained a foot hold.
A similar scenario. Some TV stations had an ice build up prevention system. The antenna structure is warmed up to prevent ice forming in the first place. If perchance they are caught unawares and ice builds up before any prevention is activated the system is unable to actually de-ice the structure once the ice is established. Not good idea anyway as some of the ice blocks that fall from these things can weigh in at some tonnes. To get things into perspective at Mt Canobalas (Orange) the power required to do this at mains 3 phase voltages is (going from memory a way back) is something like 160A per phase or many time the actual RF power of the TV signal. Not a cheap exercise. That was the ABC Ch 0. These days with the modern UHF signal the array might be small enough to cover the whole antenna with a fibreglass Raydome to prevent ice damage.
I think you have a task in front of you to apply any form of heating remedy to a whole farm. I could not think of anything short of a giant hot house to help slow down the thermal radiation you mentioned and harness the power of the sun. Interesting to see what you have in mind.
The system would need to output a signal that could be used to activate a contactor.
The contactor can be used to turn on sprinkler systems, fans or even just an alarm to alert the farmer.
These are some of the mitigation strategies used to manage frost.
It’s important to understand the physics of frost damage.
Sprinklers work by using the phase change from liquid to solid as the water freezes. This releases heat. Interestingly, the buildup of ice on the plants actually acts as an insulator. Plants are ok with zero degree but not so much with negative degrees. That is when the damage is done.
Fans on the other hand work by air mixing as the frost conditions only affect the air layer close to the ground. If you disrupt the air you reduce or even stop the frost.
Also, most of the food that hits your table is grown on relatively small farms. Nobody is growing tomatoes on hundreds of acres.
There is a huge amount of information available on radiation frosts and control measures.
For sprinkler systems it appears you take a measurement at ground level and turn on when the temperature drops to 0.5 to 1.0degC.
For fans it is a little more complicated in that a temperature measurement is taken at ground level and various heights to determine if an inversion layer exists. If the fans can reach warm air then they can turn on to increase temperature near the surface. I gather helicopters are also a good fan!
This is all achievable for microcontrollers with a precision temperature sensor such as the TMP117 suggested. The challenges for the electronics would be providing power and scale depending on he size of the farm. The sprinkler and fans would be a major expense and the sprinklers need a source of water.
A humidity measurement would help with predictions since low humidity increases the risk of radiation frosts.
I am surprised this has not been commercialised by wine growers where frost can ruin a whole crop. Many years back I remember 44 gallon drums belching smoke through vineyards but I guess that is now banned.
From my Fluid Mechanics at UniSA, I seem to recall that ice formation (frost) has several factors, all of them can be measured. I’ll dig out my textbook from the time and see what they reckon.
Yep, definitely a few factors to be considered and configured. Mostly I’m looking for someone who is interested in building a working prototype