Updates from lpercifield Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • lpercifield 8:09 pm on May 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply


    Dontflushme encourages citizens of New York to conserve water at critical times in order to increase to overall health of local waterways. By using a network of unique custom sensors, readily accessible communication tools and internet connected visualization devices, users will be kept informed about the realtime status of the NYC sewer system. This information will then allow participants to make informed decisions about their water use. Dontflushme aims to increase the community’s level of awareness, knowledge, and sense of value towards the environment which can result in positive attitude and behavioral changes.

    Updates and all the blog content are available at http://dontflush.me

    Final paper is available here

  • lpercifield 4:44 pm on May 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply


    dontflush.me is live! The site now contains the realtime data feed from pachube (when the sensor is running). I added the SMS registration feature and a New York sewer shed map courtesy of habitatmap.org. Everyone please register! I promise that I wont spam you!

    • Breanne 4:14 pm on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It is hard to find familiar people within this issue, you be understood as you know exactly what you are referring to! Thanks a lot

  • lpercifield 2:49 pm on May 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Charging Circuit and Pachube 

    This weekend I’ve been working on the charging circuit for the cell phone attached to the sensor. With the cell phone drawing about 160mA during charging I got about 3.5 days of charging out of the 3 d-cell batteries. I realized that there was a bug in my code that never turned the charging circuit off. Thats fixed now and I’m looking into adding some power regulation to the charge circuit to be able to use all the available power from the batteries as their voltage drops.

    I also connected to sensor to the Pachube SMS beta! Thanks to Usman Haque and Ed Borden for getting that setup for me! The feed is live here: http://www.pachube.com/feeds/24004

    In other news I’ve been thinking about a more accessible name for the project… SewerSense
    Let me know what you think about that

  • lpercifield 5:13 pm on April 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Bulbuino Prototype 

    The momentum behind the idea of internet connected lightbulb pushed me to get a prototype working. I decided to give the Twilio  IVR system a try since their SMS system was super easy to get working. I found a blog post that outlined a lot of what I was interested in doing which made things much smoother. Props for the great projects there!

    To get the whole thing small enough to fit into a 2 1/4″ sphere I needed to create a custom PCB. Getting the xbee to work with the arduino and Digi Connectport was super easy using Rob Falundi’s XIG python script.

    The arduino code is available here, the php (mostly from the above blog) is available here, XIG (xbee internet gateway) is available here, the Fritzing file and Gerber exports are here.

    I hope to get the bulbuino visualizing the data from my “Flush-o-meter” sensor sometime in the next week or so. Check out the “Flush-o-meter” here.

    Bulbuino from Leif Percifield on Vimeo.

  • lpercifield 10:19 pm on April 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply


    So since last week I have created an internet connected light bulb. I cut a custom PCB for an atmega328 chip with the bare essentials. I added a socket for my xbee and soldered the whole thing up. Using a 5v usb power adapter and a light bulb socket adapter I got everything set up. The current prototype only fades colors but as soon as I can program a data stream I’ll set up the bulb to respond to an internet feed.

    On sunday I got the final approval from Usman Haque at Pachube to access their SMS beta system. I can now begin testing the sensor module with a direct feed to Pachube. The best part about using Pachube is that I don’t have to re-invent an API. Their API is well documented.

    The PCB from Fritzing:

  • lpercifield 11:46 pm on April 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Flush-O-Meter prototypes 

    So I’m making progress on sensor unit and the end device. I’ve slowed the development of the sensor to make sure that it will be working properly and stay working when I finally get it installed. I’ve been working on power management of the arduino and cell phone. I’ve been using some nice code that I found to put my arduino to sleep. Here are two places to look for this.



    I cut the first version of the breadboard for the sensor and will have it soldered up for monday.

    I also have the pelican case that I’m going to use:

    As for the end device, I’ve decided to make a change on how its going to look and work. In thinking about the look and feel of the device I noticed that there was no really good place to install a light in my bathroom. I also noticed that there are light fixtures over my sink that have exposed lightbulbs. I then came up with the idea to create a internet connected lightbulb. The lightbulb can replace any normal bulb in any fixture. This allows people to use their existing light fixtures and removes the need for an addition device in the house. The nature of the design that I came up with also allows for the bulb adapter to be removed and for the device to be plugged directly into a electrical socket.

    I ordered all the parts need to build a prototype this weekend.

  • lpercifield 4:56 pm on April 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    DEP Green infrastructure meeting 

    The DEP held a “Green infrastructure” meeting last thursday, which I attended. The concept of the green infrastructure program is to find ways to reduce CSO outfalls by developing alternates to traditional infrastructure. These green initiatives include green roofs, bioswales, and enhanced tree pits to help reduce storm water run-off. There is even a grant program for people to develop these ideas with funding from the DEP, unfortunately the applications are due on the 29th of april. I spoke with several people about my project and got some ideas about how to proceed.

  • lpercifield 10:27 pm on April 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Oh crap… Updates 

    So Monday night after class, I trekked out into the rain… When I arrived at NCB-013 there was no sign that it was overflowing. The smell of sewage was in the air though as the rain stirred things up. After getting some photos of the river and holding pond, I heard a loud creaking sound. It was clear that the flood gates were opening. Moments later there was a torrent of water being released into Wallabout bay. The sound of the water rushing from the flood gates was quite incredible…

    Here is the floating boom before the outfall, notice the “floatables”

    Here is the holding pond…

    Here is what the outfall looks like after it gained some steam

  • lpercifield 10:01 pm on April 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply


    Monday 4/18
    Have the sensor module prototype ready for possible installation
    Thursday 4/21
    Have a physical look and feel prototype ready for the personal in home unit
    Monday 4/25
    Have the pysical system running for user testing. 
    If sensor is not installed work out test data for the system.
    Possible presentation at the Beacon institute this evening??
    Thursday 4/28
    Work on the Web site to display the data and connect users to api
    Rough working draft of paper (Compile prior art and resources
    Monday 5/2
    Compile data about sewer shed area and create maps
    Thursday 5/5
    Final user testing of the prototypes and web services
    Rough draft of paper
    Monday 5/9
    Have a demo of the final system running with pysical and web interaction
    Monday 5/13
    Finish PAPER!!
    • scottpeterman 10:17 pm on April 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      4/26 jail
      5/3 a flash flood and you die…

      my money’s actually on an exploding spray paint can first semester of next year doing you in.

      Seriously, sounds/looks like it’s going good! Get those photos up here, they’re great and a really visual illustration of why this data is relevant and needs to be collected.

    • andywallace 10:19 pm on April 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      What kind of suer testing are you planning on since this is an autonomous device? Will you just see how people react to the website or are you still going ahead with the little candles that people keep in their apartments that tells them when to flush?

  • lpercifield 10:15 pm on April 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Oh crap… 

    The idea behind this project is to allow NYC residents to help reduce the amount of pollution in the harbor. Some 27 billion gallons of raw sewage is dumped into the harbor every year. This comes from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) that open when the sewer system is overloaded. The idea is to enable residents to understand when the overflows happen and reduce their wastewater production before and during an overflow event.

    Photos of the CSO target for this prototype:

    The simple sensor that I am prototyping utilizes an arduino, a proximity sensor, and a cell phone. The idea is that the proximity sensor will measure the water level at the CSO and transmit this data, via the cell phone, to a database. This information will then be shared to the users of the system.

    The data collected from this network of sensors will be availble to users on a website, alerts will be sent by SMS and a prototype of an in home visualization of the CSO status will be set up. Something similar to the Ambient Devices weather beacon.

    A simple sketch for this device would include using a xbee network and arduino:

    • lpercifield 12:13 am on April 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Steve Duncan is going to help me out with this…

      The cell phone will be mounted in a pelican case to make it look like an official sensor. The parts will be very cheap so it won’t be a total loss. I hope to access the gps capabilities of the cell phone to potentially track the device if its lost.

      Data from cell phone:
      BATT: 66 RSSI: 23 DST: 68

  • lpercifield 10:17 pm on March 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Prototype Triangle 

  • lpercifield 8:35 pm on March 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Prototypes and domain mapping 

    This includes the prototype of the “crap-o-meter”, the device that will actually go into the sewer.

  • lpercifield 9:11 pm on March 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply


    Here is the latest round of prototypes. I choose to prototype the in home Flush-o-meter. This device will tell you when you should be saving water or when its fine to use it.

    • lpercifield 10:08 pm on March 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Question: what were the easiest things about these prototypes? and what were the hardest things about these prototypes…

      The easiest thing was what the object was actually going to do. This is the part of the object that I’ve been thinking about the most. This includes ideas about how its going to function. I want this object to do BLAH so it was easy to think about that.

      The hardest thing was to figure out how this thing would look. There are so many different styles of devices and consumer things that its hard to choose a group to put this into. TOO MUCH TOO CHOOSE FROM

  • lpercifield 10:15 pm on March 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply  


    CSO outfall sensor: This is a device that will measure the amount of an outfall and accurately report when a CSO is outfalling. It will take other measurements about the waste water at the time of the outfall.

    Magic Mirror: This is a mirror that will allow people to try on clothing with out actually trying it on. The mirror will “place” the clothing on the person standing in front of it. The person will be able to choose the piece of clothing that they wear. This could be used for historical clothing as well as for a shopping aid.

    Flush-me-not: A device that the user installs on their toilet that reminds them not to flush if there is a CSO outfall in their area. This device also makes the recommendation about how else to save water.

    Public flush-o-meter: A display device that simple shows how much people are flushing and how much of that is ending up in the NY harbor.

    Mobile flush-o-meter: Based on where you are it flush-o-meter tells you whether or not its safe to flush a toilet.

    Mobile PaintOut: a mobile platform for people to create digital graffiti. This would allow people to create graffiti on any surface with out actually leaving a mark on the surface.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • lpercifield 3:48 pm on March 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Temperature Visualization 

    After collecting LOTS of sensor data I realized that I wanted to create a visualization that would allow each data point to be represented individually. In the thought process I said to my self “Self, its raining data”. This is how I came up with the idea to visualize the data as rain. Each rain drop represents one temperature reading from my arduino. The rain drops decrease in size and opacity with temperature.

    Since this blog is eating my html tags here is the link.

  • lpercifield 11:10 pm on March 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Xbee to the interwebs 

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.


    This uses a Digi ConnectPort x2 module that connects directly to my xbee module.

  • lpercifield 11:22 pm on March 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Chapter 5: Simple Sensor Network 

    Download the processing sketch:

    Download the library:

    We will show you how to implement this library in class.

    There are two possible ways to build the circuit for tomorrows class:

    Circuit 1 requires:
    3.3v power regulator
    10uF capacitor
    Circuit 2 requires:
    All other parts will be supplied
    We will be making the following circuits in class:
  • lpercifield 10:18 pm on February 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Mirror Buddy 

    Mirror buddy sits on the mirror in your bathroom and provides you with either motivation or appreciation depending on what you would like to hear. He detects how far you are away and make comments appropriately.

    Code HERE

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc