Critical Zone Observatory Project

Wireless Sensor Networks for Watershed Assessment

Emerging Technologies

Arduino datalogger

Implementing a large scale sensor deployment for watershed assessment has previously been limited by the high cost of the datalogging and communication infrastructure.

The Christina River Basin Critical Zone Observatory (CRB-CZO) is overcoming the obstacles to large near-real-time data collection networks by using Arduino, an open source electronics platform, in combination with XBee ZigBee wireless radio modules.

The open-source nature of Arduino means the cost is extremely low compared to similar commercial electronics options.

By significantly decreasing the cost of the datalogging and communication hardware, resources can be focused on installing more sensors for greater spatial coverage.

Researchers, students, and individuals can easily build and deploy inexpensive dataloggers without the need for electronics experience, complicated software, or specialized tools. Dozens of low cost boards allow even novice users to build devices using boards that connect in a modular framework.

Benefits of Open-Source Datalogger Hardware

A 16-channel, solar-powered Arduino datalogger node with self-meshing wireless communication = $150

Our Preliminary Results

We believe that using open-source electronics hardware for watershed instrumentation will transform our ability to deploy sensors, field instruments, and other electronic “eyes and ears” to unprecedented levels. High quality commercial sensors are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Easy customization of the Arduino node interface hardware and software means virtually any sensor can be used.


As we finalize our electrical designs and Arduino programming code, we will be sharing all of the documentation for our loggers and other devices so anyone can replicate and implement their own versions of our instrumentation.

For more information, visit, our do-it-yourself environmental science and monitoring website.

Building the Networks

Custom Devices

Other custom devices such as a remote streamwater sampling system and a multi-chamber respirometer controller can be built using the same type of Arduino microprocessor boards.

Remote water sampling control board with prepaid cell phone

Soil moisture datalogger

Laboratory respirometer

Portable respirometer

2012: View the poster presented at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

2011: View the poster was presented at the 2011 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.


Arduino Electronics Platform

Online Resources, Tutorials, Products

Xbee ZigBee Radio Modules