A Microprocessor Based Soil Moisture Sensor System for Space Based Plant Growth Units 2001-01-2178
A soil moisture sensor system consisting of small heat-pulse probes, a microcontroller, and software for data acquisition and signal conditioning was developed for use in space based plant growth units. The microcontroller allows the sensors to be used in a control application with minimum time demands on the control subsystem. A single digital serial link may be shared by up to 16 microcontrollers with 8 sensors each, for a total of 128 sensors. The microcontroller independently applies heat cycles to determine the current moisture level, and responds to a request from the computer with the last known value. Using the microcontroller system, repeatability testing was completed for wet 1–2 mm arcillite. The standard deviation in wet arcillite over a 16-hour period was about 3%. Software filtering can be used to reduce the standard deviation further. In addition to determining root zone moisture levels, this system can also be used to monitor root zone temperature and to detect wavefront movement through a dry rooting medium.