Technology has impacted farming in so many ways, but perhaps one of its greatest influences has been the way farmers have more information available to make management decisions.
We’ve reviewed plenty of remote management and monitoring technology in the past, and this month we’ve put the Usee tank level monitor through its paces. It is not the most complicated of devices, but that is the unit’s greatest strength.
Usee tank level monitors, remote cameras and weather stations are manufactured and supplied by Harrington Systems Electronics, based in Queensland. We’ve previously reviewed the camera in Farming Ahead June 2013.
The tank level monitor uses Telstra’s NextG network to send level data wirelessly, which can be accessed through the Usee website or free app (iPhone or Android). The unit contains a SIM card, but does not need to be accessed or changed for the life of the unit.
Credit can be added through the website, and the unit can be switched on or off. This is particularly handy during winter months when tank level data may not be needed, as it will save chewing up SIM credit. Charges work out at $198 a year, but if the unit is switched off for half a year, it will last for two years. Credit does not expire as it does with a mobile phone.
SETTING UP THE TANK LEVEL MONITOR
Setting up the Usee tank level monitor is about as easy as it gets. Simply drill a large hole in the top of the tank with a holesaw and sit the box over the hole so the ultrasonic sensor protrudes into the tank.
The solar panel needs to be mounted so that it faces north, and can be attached to a pole near the tank, or attached to the top of the tank itself. Then it is simply a matter of connecting the cable from the panel to the level box. This effectively switches on the unit.
The next step is to go online to www.usee.com and register an account, and enter a code supplied with the level monitor to activate the unit. You will then able to open up a tank level graph, which at this stage will not make much sense until the tank level monitor is calibrated.
Calibration is a simple affair. Simply measure the distance from the sensor to the bottom of the tank, and also the distance to the highest water level (overflow pipe). Enter this via the web page and you are good to go.
If you have additional tank monitors, these can be added on the virtual “dashboard”. Also, Usee weather stations and cameras can be view through the same portal.
CHECKING YOUR TANK LEVEL
There are a few ways to check your tank level, giving plenty of options for users. Open the web page from any computer and enter your password to access the dashboard, or use the app from your smartphone. You will also receive a daily email with the tank level graph.
A low water level alarm can also be set, so that you receive a text message in case the tank level falls below this mark. The common theme through all of the interfaces is simplicity, and the web and app design is simple and easy to follow without instruction.
RAINFALL DATA BONUS
Updated tank level monitors now contain a rainfall sensor, allowing the transmission of rainfall data from each tank level monitor. Unfortunately this was not fitted to our test level monitor unit, but it is now included for the same price of $1500 (GST inc). The app contains a rainfall graph under the tank level graph.
The Usee tank level monitor is about as simple to set up and use as it gets. We’ve previously reviewed the wireless Gallagher tank level unit, which is much cheaper and has a neat monitor, but does not offer access from outside the transmission range of the tank sender. The only drawback will be if you have no NextG signal where the tank is situated. High-gain antennas can be supplied for areas of weaker signal.
The internals of the unit are potted, or sealed in resin, and then sealed inside an aluminium housing, so moisture should affect it. The internal battery is replaceable if it fails some time in the future.
The only improvement we would like to see is some method or bracket to attach the box to the top of the tank, rather than sitting it in place. However a generous bead of silicone sealant would probably do a reasonable job.
Contact: Harrington Systems Electronics on 1300 485 629
Posted on Tue, March 28, 2017
by Emily Harrington