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Old 01-16-2013, 04:16 PM   #1
Jeffww
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Cheap/better alternatives to Bromo blue for pH


I'm really tired of the terrible results I get from using bromo blue when I measure ph. It's either too blue or too yellow to read. Is there a good, rather inexpensive (under $50) alternative to this? I think certain paper ph tests are supposed to be better than liquid api tests but a probe is best.


I think I will be able to use my logging software on my computer and get a USB probe and work with that. Not sure on the specifics yet though.

I'm thinking of picking up one of these:
http://www.vernier.com/products/interfaces/go-link/

And then just purchasing whatever probes I may want. For now just pH altough the nitrate, ammonium and DO probes look promising. The problem is that the ph probe + interface is around 140 dollars. And that's only because I already have the logging software!

Last edited by Jeffww; 01-16-2013 at 04:48 PM.. Reason: ph probe loggerpro
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:21 PM   #2
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Arduino (or preferably just an Atmel chip to reduce cost) + pH probe (eBay) + pH board (you can design one that fits on a mini protoboard) + SD shield for data logging + LCD (only if you want to see your data live).

Assuming you want to buy an Arduino, the total cost is ~$50 at most.

Of course, this requires you have some programming/electronics knowledge, but I managed (and I didn't know anything a few months ago...)

Once you have the raw data points, you can just graph them in Excel or your favourite graphing software.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:58 PM   #3
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Is programming an arduino similar to c++ or java? I have a little experience in those.

Also it looks like a full set up using arduino, ph board, probe, and relevant solutions is still around 80-90 dollars. The same as a pinpoint ph monitor.

Last edited by Jeffww; 01-16-2013 at 10:29 PM.. Reason: arduino cost
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffww View Post
Is programming an arduino similar to c++ or java? I have a little experience in those.
Arduino is very similar to C. If you can program in C, you will be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffww View Post
Also it looks like a full set up using arduino, ph board, probe, and relevant solutions is still around 80-90 dollars. The same as a pinpoint ph monitor.
An Arduino clone can be had on eBay for $15 or less. The pH board components are relatively cheap, and I would not think it should cost more than ~$20 at most (and this is a very conservative guess). The pH probe is ~$15. If you do not have calibration solutions, then that will be an additional cost, but it should not be too expensive either.

Total cost is $50.

Don't forget that you can do other things with the Arduino as well. Once you have all the programming done, you can replace the Arduino with an ATMega chip, and then use the Arduino for another project (Aquarium controller, anyone? )

Edit: Forgot to mention the SD shield - I just found a listing for $1.48
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:38 AM   #5
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I picked up everything for like 90 since I really don't want to build the chip myself.

Got:
ATmega 2560
Prototyping shield
LCD keyboard for a future controller/displaying numbers
Breadboard and jump wires
ph chip
probe and calibrating solns.


Board bundle was 46
pH Chip 28
Probe 17
Soln. packets .99
A future temp controller that will ATC for my pH probe is on the table. I would need to think of a way to send temperature data from a temp probe to the temperature correction equation. Then display both on an lcd. Sounds like a good summer project imo.

Last edited by Jeffww; 01-17-2013 at 04:51 AM.. Reason: costs
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:13 AM   #6
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Ah, you got the Mega, which would have cost more. The bundle seems a bit expensive too (Mega + prototyping board + LCD/keyboard shield?)

As for what you are suggesting, it is not that hard to do I managed to do it with no experience in programming.

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Old 01-17-2013, 05:23 AM   #7
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I bought everything from american shippers. I really hate dealing with people shipping from china (lots of broken stuff, lost packages). So it was more expensive by like 10-20 dollars than it could have been. Easier to do returns/exchanges if mailing to CA than hong kong even though it's all the same parts.

Would you suggest purchasing an anti shock watch for working with this? I've seen many a motherboard lost to static. But at least these don't cost 200+ lol. Oh yah also got a cheap AC-DC adapter to run this thing as a unit.

It wasn't a horrible deal I suppose. The same controller retails from the manufacturer SainSmart for 35 anyways.

edit:

Also it turns out I had one of these:
http://www.evbplus.com/dragon12_hc12...s12_hcs12.html

Laying around from when my brother took circuits for EE.

It is essentially an arduino, lcd, breadboard combo package...just not quit as userfriendly/supported as a mega.

edit:...Looks like the dragon uses a different chip and would be a HUGE pain to work with (converting the arduino compatible chip to whatever the hell HCS12 is... unless I was more experienced)

Last edited by Jeffww; 01-17-2013 at 06:11 AM.. Reason: dragon
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffww View Post
I bought everything from american shippers. I really hate dealing with people shipping from china (lots of broken stuff, lost packages). So it was more expensive by like 10-20 dollars than it could have been. Easier to do returns/exchanges if mailing to CA than hong kong even though it's all the same parts.
Ah, that might be why too. Well, as long as you have the parts

As I mentioned, you can easily replace the Mega with an ATMega 2560 chip when you're done, freeing up the board for something else.

Quote:
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Would you suggest purchasing an anti shock watch for working with this? I've seen many a motherboard lost to static. But at least these don't cost 200+ lol. Oh yah also got a cheap AC-DC adapter to run this thing as a unit.
I don't have one; I just discharge myself when I am working with electronics. I build computers on the floor (carpeted), while wearing a wool sweater

One of these days, I'm sure it will come back to bite me.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:38 AM   #9
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Oh it was an AT mega2560 that I bought. The pH chip that I purchased had directions for wiring it for that particular controller (Was either that or the Uno, which was suggested to my friend in EE)
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Oh it was an AT mega2560 that I bought. The pH chip that I purchased had directions for wiring it for that particular controller (Was either that or the Uno, which was suggested to my friend in EE)
Yeah, that particular chip is fine, but so is the Uno (AT16U2 or the slightly older 8U2).

The only reason I'm using the Mega is that I have another project that requires more pins than the Uno has.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:36 AM   #11
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Thanks for your help btw.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Thanks for your help btw.
Not a problem, though I'm not sure how much help I've actually been; I just started this last November myself

For your data logging project, you will want to look into an SD/microSD component. You will probably want a real time clock (RTC) as well, assuming you want to associate your data points with time (the DS1307 chip should be a few bucks at most).

The Arduino can take data points using the built in internal clock, but it generally is inaccurate, and cannot keep track of time for more than 50 days (rollover) and also resets when it loses power.
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