Sensing the infrascape

Since 2013, I’ve acquired and deployed a range of environmental sensors. My initial plans for the data were to define baseline environmental (which ended up being beyond my means). Finally figured out how to merge my inner Maker with my infrastructural fascination by using environmental data streams in interactive design elements that poetically reveal hidden flows and changes or creates immersive experiences.

This concept – researching how revealing environmental conditions and technological flows along infrastructural pipes and wire in situ can generate awareness to inspire behavior change with public, combines several of my research interests and is the focus of my fall 2017 sabbatical project .

So what sensors and data loggers do I have?

HOBO U30

First online in 2013, my Onset HOBO U30 data logger is configured to collect ETo data (1@air temp/humidity, 2@ ground temp, 2@soil moisture, 1@net radiation, 1@wind speed, just missing a rain gauge) on my patio. This entry-level research-grade suite of sensors and the data logger cost about $3,000, and serves as my reference to calibrate the other sensors as needed. The U30 has the ability to control two relays and to send an alarm signal that can trigger other microcontrollers. But Onset has created a proprietary ecosystem with limited customization possible (and haven’t found anybody trying to hack them yet).

D7K_4688-1168

Seeeduino Stalker v2.3

About the size of a deck of cards, the Stalker v2.3, an ATmega328P Arduino compatible wireless sensor node packaged with a 0.5 watt PV panel and LiPo battery, supporting a range of sensors and networking options. This was the microcontroller used by the students in my LA301L studio in 2014, so I now have 5 of them, a ZigBee (XBee) wireless mesh networking shield (a low energy version of wifi, that I haven’t gotten to work), a Bee GPS card, two Grove Dust Sensors, a 8×8 LED matrix, a 10 LED bar, and several other sensors.

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Image from SeeedStudio

Smart Citizen Kit

I got on board the kickstart campaign for a Smart Citizen Kit and ran into some difficulties deploying it. Instead of real-time streaming data via wifi to www.smartcitizen.me, it has been sitting in a box since I ripped the USB jack off the board (the 3D printed enclosure is too small!). This was after I used the wrong settings while configuring it and lost the ability to communicate to it via USB, which Acrobotic kindly fixed by reburning the bootloader.

Teensy 3.6

For 2017’s sabbatical project, I’m getting a $30 Teensy 3.6, an Arduino compatible development board featuring a much faster processor (32-bit 180 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor) and loaded with 256kb RAM plus all sorts of goodies (specs). It is powerful enough to drive thousands of LED pixels (or hundreds of animation frames), yet only 2.5 inches long!

Check out: https://youtu.be/a1UGDOdKcVg

I’ve also been eying getting 2 or more Feather M0 with RFM95 LoRa Radio – 900MHz if I need wireless networking abilities – as the LoRA protocol is supposed to be simpler to implement then ZigBee and they have a much longer range.

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Recharge City

My entry for the Dry Futures Competition in the Pragmatic category.

Recharge_City_Page_12 400

Recharge City evaluates pragmatic options for recharging the groundwater in Los Angeles County by recycling the 502 million gallons of water that is dumped by Hyperion Treatment Plant and the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant into the Pacific each day. This is enough water to quench the thirst of 5 1/2 million people.

To identify plausible sites for recharge, this project undertook a holistic mapping of the water infrastructure for the metropolis – ultimately collecting data from over 50 local, state, and federal agencies.

Recycling water is a necessity for Southern California to survive, so how can this massive infrastructure project to close the water loop create a better city for us to live in?

RechargeCity_entry [22mb rasterized pdf]

Recharge City Submission_flat-optimized [35mb pdf]

After the Aqueduct in the news!

It’s been a very busy fall and winter above and beyond my usual teaching load at Cal Poly Pomona. Just got back from presenting at #CELA2015 on DisplayScapes and organizing a panel on DIY sensing in Landscape Architecture design studios (with Lucia Phinney, Allison Lassiter, and Brad Cantrell) this past week, and creating a new 200 square feet sequence of Aqueduct Futures maps and drawings. These are on display at After the Aqueduct (curated by Kim Stringfellow) at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions through April 12, 2015. Excited to share some of the press (LATimes, KCET, and LAM) coverage of the exhibit!

Christopher Knight reviews After the Aqueduct in the LA TImes:

A detail of Peter Bo Rappmund’s “Psychohydrography” video (2010). (Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times)

California is not in danger of running out of water in the next year or two, but the climate-change situation is going from bad to worse as we enter the fourth year of drought. At Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, “After the Aqueduct” looks at one big piece of the state’s water puzzle.

Organized by artist Kim Stringfellow, the show includes works by half a dozen artists and designers that focus on the century-old hydraulic water conveyance system meandering more than 200 miles from the Sierra Nevada to Southern California.

Much of the display is documentary, such as a series of charts produced by Barry Lehrman and Cal Poly Pomona students – to date, more than 120 of them – who are mapping complicated land-use issues for the school’s Aqueduct Futures program. I would describe the charts as visually dry, although the pun threatens to distract from the seriousness of the task. Continue reading

Xochimilco in Los Angeles

The creator of a toy-filled folk-art garden near downtown LA, Charles Ray Walker, has died. ‘Bamboo Charlie’ as he was known, created a uniquely personal landscape similar to the Islands of Dolls in Xochimilco, Mexico City. His garden is the latest contribution to Southern California’s folk art legacy that includes: Rhodia’s Watts Tower, Grandma Prisby’s Bottle Village, Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Museum, Rubel’s Castle, Salvation Mountain, and Alan Kimble Fahey’ recently razed ‘Phonehedge West’.

Let’s hope that Bamboo Charlie’s garden quickly finds a benefactor and guardian to preserve it’s unique character.

Xochimilco in Los Angeles

LAtimes

LAtimes Continue reading

Aqueduct Futures – Fall 2012 Studios

This post is a place holder for the detailed description of LA301L and LA401L at Cal Poly Pomona for Fall 2012. These studios are focusing on the Los Angeles Aqueduct as we approach the centennial to it’s opening on November 5, 1913, where William Mulholland famously said: ‘There it is. Take it.’

source: LATimes

301L Aqueduct Futures

This studio will map and analyze the Los Angeles Aqueduct and its associated landscape, identifying sites to design interpretive landscapes that celebrates the Aqueduct’s legacy in developing Southern California, while also addresses the social and environmental impacts caused by transferring water from Owens Valley to Los Angeles.

401L – Lehrman: Aqueduct Futures

Will explore the future of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and how it shaped the development of California.  Projects will develop speculative forms of water conveyance, water purification, water harvesting, watershed/habitat restoration, and energy production along the 230-mile long Los Angeles Aqueduct right of way that also provide for habitat and cultural uses.

Bibliographics references here.

 

LA Aqueduct Bibliography 2012

I revisited the LA Aqueduct for a grant proposal related to the upcoming centennial of it’s opening (stay tuned), and started updating my earlier bibliography. My methodology was searching via google scholar, amazon.com and cal poly’s library. Items in bold are seminal books and essential reading about the LA Aqueduct. The links take you to the most recent edition of the book.

(all images by HAER/Library of Congress.)

OWENS RIVER DIVERSION GATES

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

Alabama Gates

Continue reading