What does it mean that ACRONET is an "Open Hardware" project?
It means that the ACRONET monitoring systems have been designed with the same policy of the open source software. Hence, all the project artifacts such as diagrams, drawings, bill of materials, the layout of the data, the printed circuit board, are published free of charge on the internet . They are available for anyone who wants to realize them independently, or would like to contribute to the project improving parts of it.
Open Hardware? How does it work?
A baker makes a cake and then publish on the internet both the list of ingredients and the recipe, so that anyone can bake the same cake at his home…
Obviously, unlike software that is copied with a single click from the virtual world, in this case you have to buy (only) the ingredients. You do not pay every time the work of the pastry chef.
In addition, everyone can help improve the recipe and make a cake always taste better as a result of “design” shared by the community of users.
Obviously the new improved recipe will be re-published free of charge and made available to everybody.
What is a Monitoring System?
A Monitoring System is a system of remote observation, which allows users to verify, at any time, what is happening in the context of a process, in relation to the extent of a particular magnitude defined as indicator.
Each ACRONET “monitoring system” consists of a “measurement system” (to be installed in the measuring field) and a software infrastructure, ACRONETWORK, through which the sampled measures are collected via the internet, and then analyzed, integrated, stored , etc. a graphical user interface allows geographical display.
The ACRONETWORK allows the continuous comparison between observed data and thresholds set by the user, and, in case of exceedance, warning can be sent to decision makers through sms, email, etc…
Who is ACRONET for?
The paradigm is addressed to all users who need to monitor one or more environmental processes and want to have monitoring systems that meet the characteristics of the Open Hardware systems.
The openness of the projects allows the user to create, install and maintain autonomously measuring systems, avoiding bonds with a particular supplier company.
Alternatively, all of these tasks can be outsourced to third parties, even if non-specialists, but with a high capacity for action in the site.
In other cases, the use of ACRONET can be “only” due to the lower final costs of the measures that can be obtained in comparison with traditional monitoring systems, of course, with the same technical specifications and requirements for reliability, accuracy, etc..
Does Open Hardware mean low cost?
No, or at least, not in the common meaning, for which the reduction of costs can be obtained only by decreasing quality.
In fact, quality, reliability, durability, etc., are specific characteristics of each ACRONET monitoring system. These features are defined, each time, by the requirements of the “project” and by the intrinsic characteristics of the selected components.
In accordance with the ACRONET paradigm, for example, both measuring systems for high intensity precipitation in tropical latitudes, compliant to strict standards WMO, and simple air quality sensors are already been made.
In all cases, compared to similar systems of the “traditional” market, the unit cost of measures is some orders of magnitude lower (total investment / number of valid measurements joined of time).
The “magic” is possible thanks to both the elimination of the costs normally associated with the industrial nature of the production process, and the direct use of internal staff and / or unskilled labour locally available.
La “magia” è possibile sia per l’azzeramento dei costi normalmente associati alla matrice industriale dei processi di produzione, sia per l’uso diretto di proprio personale e/o manodopera non specializzata disponibile localmente.
Metrology or Meteorology?
The ACRONET Paradigm is based on the application of the Metrology, the science that deals with measurements and their applications.
Each definition adopted with the Paradigm is taken from the 3rd edition of the VIM – International Vocabulary of Metrology – published and maintained by BIPM, Bureau International de Poids et de Mesures (ISO member).
Various monitoring systems can be built through the application of the Paradigm: those can be useful in various fields and technical-scientific applications (amongst them, Meteorology is an example).
Hydrology, air quality assessment and water pollution, environmental security, civil protection, etc., are areas of applications of current specific ACRONET projects.
The ever-expanding community of developers and cross-fertilizing relationships among different projects will hopefully lead to an exponential increase in ACRONET measurement systems and related applications.
How can I obtain an ACRONET system?
Once looked at the website and identified a “configuration” which may fit to my purposes, you can
a) independently built all components of the system, following the design documents already published on the website, and purchasing and assembling by myself all the third parties elements necessary for the purpose;
b) order (on my behalf) a implementation of a mounting do-it-yourself kit for the selected configuration. Afterwards, you can assemble and install the station on the site: only a few manual skills and normal tools (skrewdriver, hammer, wrenches, etc.) will be necessary.
Mounting kits are normally available in three versions:
Full: the kit includes all the ACRONET modular elements and third party sensors needed to implement the configuration. The end-user is only responsible for the installation in the field.
Intermediate: the kit includes only the ACRONET modular elements required for a configuration. The end user is responsible for purchase separately the other sensors required by the configuration and install everything in site.
Minimum: the kit includes only the electronic boards inside of the ACRONET modular elements provided by the configuration. The end user is expected to:
Buy the rest of the intermediate components required by each modular element (box, panel, antenna, batteries, etc.);
Assemble them according with the published design
How can I read the measurements?
Each Configuration ends with the ACRONETWORK infrastructure: this is an andvanced clud aming at collecting and displaying data via internet.
Once installed in the field, each configuration connects to the Internet according to its schema and protocol, and is automatically recognized by the infrastructure as a new ACRONET installation.
Since then, the measurements are collected and brought to the system. Furthermore, the two-way communication allows you to adjust directly from the admin panel of each installation both the sampling frequency of each sensor, and the frequency of sending data.
From the website, you can also get several additional services, including thematic maps integrated amongst all nearby stations ACRONET or download real-time data for direct use at a different viewer.
Access to infrastructure ACRONETWORK is free, and it always will be.