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1. Principles and Practice

My Fab Academy project aims to address an issue faced by residence living near Lake Houston. I am going to develop a network of sensors to provide more information about the water level around Lake Houston.

“Some flood forecasting professionals suspected that the previous water meter was not accurately predicting flood height because of several factors.” source

Sources: Harris County Flood Control District, City of Houston

Lake Houston Water Level Sensor Network

Hurricane Harvey flooded over 200,000 homes in Houston and almost three quarters of them are above the 100 year flood plain. Although Harvey was a rain event unlike any other, dropping 47 inches of rain in four days, many community members were experiencing their home being flooded for the 3rd or 4th time.

Being new to Houston, I surprised to see where the flooding occurred. During the storm parts of the lake were blocked by forming sandbars. My house did not flood since it is only a few hundred yard from the dam. My in-laws’ house flooded several feet deep because the water pooled deeper behind the sand deposits.

Source: Harris County Flood Warning

The three sensors on the lake were separated by sand deposits and provided wildly different information. Without a dense network of sensors community members living in between sensors couldn’t tell which side of the sand bars they were on.

The Sensor Project

The Sensor will be made with a small solar panel to charge a battery. A ESP8266 wifi board will run off the battery. The board will go into a deep sleep and wake itself up every 10 minutes to take a reading, using an ultrasonic sensor. They reading from the sensor will then be uploaded to a SQL database via php.

The Art Project

As a fun way to display the information I am also going to make a electronic installation that displays the sensor value via spinning LED propellers. Each of the robots will be powered by the metal cables that suspend th grid of robots.