Low-cost, DIY environmental monitoring for all
The FreeStation and FreeSensor initiatives use open source hardware, open source software and open source 3-D printing technology to build and deploy reliable environmental data loggers and sensors with the lowest cost and easiest DIY build possible. These are designed to make reliable, detailed local environmental data more accessible in areas that may have little local financial and technical capacity for the collection of such data. As the names imply, the designs are freely available and open source so anyone can build them. The designs are mature and we have built more than 700 dataloggers.
Users of this technology are able to read the data via an SD card (and upload to the FreeStation //Smart: platform) or stream data directly to a relay or via WiFi, 2G/3G/4G. The //Smart: platform provides both access to raw data and graphical summaries of the data as well as metrics and derivatives that are relevant to environmental, agricultural and hydrological decision-making and policy evaluation. The data can also be integrated with our widely used policysupport.org tools such as WaterWorld, Co$tingNature and Eco:Actuary, supporting, calibration, validation and downscaling. All FreeStation data are also open-access for all to use.
FreeStation, FreeSensor and similar initiatives have the potential to fundamentally change the local information base available to scientists, NGOs, farmers and water resource managers. By combining these data with the vast satellite-derived archives in WaterWorld and other tools, more sophisticated and locally-relevant policy and decision making support can be provided.
FreeStation is developed since 2014 with funding from a range of sources including the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreements No 730497 (NAIAD) and 101017857 (ReSET). Generation 1 FreeStations were based on Arduino, Generation 2 on Particle devices and the current Generation 3 are based on the ESP32 fanily and Raspberry Pi Pico.
We only build stations for projects in which we are partner. We do not build stations for sale, you have to build them yourself based on the instructions given here. We will provide support by answering questions on the provided documentation but cannot troubleshoot your builds for you. If you need our extensive data collection and monitoring network development experience on a project, get in touch We also have a stock of >400 dataloggers and thousands of sensors (covering hundreds of environmental variables) that can contribute to short or long term monitoring projects.
See the Building tab for build instructions, the Using tab for deployment and use instructions, if you have a FreeStation and want to upload or analyse your data - or if you want to use the archive of FreeStation data - see the Data and analytics tab. For educational aplications of FreeStation and FreeSensor, see the EduStation tab.
The presentation below provides more detail on FreeStation and FreeSensor:
A FreeStation in agricultural land in Burkina Faso