High Tech Aquarium Monitor

I’ve been thinking for awhile about putting my electrical engineering skills to bear on making a completely ridiculous over the top gadget for the aquarium that is in no way necessary or practical, but darn it is still awesome!

So what do I have in mind?

I was thinking of having a decent sized dot matrix LCD screen as a basic display. The MMI, otherwise known as Man Machine Interface, would either be a touch screen applied on top of the LCD display or a more traditional button interface. The touch screen is by far more of a high tech and modern approach, but also adds considerable cost. I’m not made out of gold after all! The LCD is as I mentioned earlier a dot-matrix which means it is monochrome and not to be confused with LCD televisions or cell phone screens.

This display would primarily display temperature from multiple probes within the tank, along with showing a history graph of the past say 24 hours or 7 days (user switchable of course).

I would really, really like to have other probes to measure water quality but in my search all I could find is insanely expensive probes mainly used in the municipal water distribution world. pH might be possible as those are a bit more common but that isn’t something I am concerned about as my pH is pretty rock solid.

Some other over the top features would be a power controller. A means of turning the heaters and/or filter off by the touch of a button/screen. I would also incorporate the ability for the monitor to kill power to the heaters if it detects the temperature passing a threshold. This would add an extra safety layer to saving the tank from a malfunctioning heater.

On top of all this would be an audible alarm system to alert you to a problem (How often do you really look at your thermometers? Be honest now). It would be really cool to have it send an e-mail or text message, but that kind of stuff would require a computer and I’m no software programmer. Give me some assembly code or VHDL and I’m all over it … but that’s it.

I could add to this a more advanced lighting control as well, like the ability to control multiple fixtures to do a dawn, full noon, dusk, night sequence. I don’t feel that’s really necessary though as it actually creates problems with having not enough light for the plants, but more than enough for algae. However, in my own situation, I could stagger off my two fixtures so the fish are not plunged into total darkness in an instant. On my 6 foot 125 gallon aquarium I have a 48″ fixture and a 24″ fixture, I could turn off the 48″ fixture and 15 minutes later turn off the 24″.

I’m not sure what all else I could do to this, but the possibilities are endless! Ideas? Let me know.

Spartan 6 Development Board

My Spartan 6 development board with a dot matix LCD display

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