Earlier this week I launched the Sea Leveler, and open-source, arduino-powered, water level meter that measure the activity of tweets about #sealevelrise on twitter. Not surprisingly, the first full week of trial revealed a few bugs in the machine.
The first thing you’ll notice is that, in addition to recording tweets about sea level rise, the Sea Leveler also provides a nice documentation of power surges. Every time the power flickers, the arduino resets and the arm thinks it’s back at zero, causing a dramatic rise. This happened once due to an actual power surge and twice due to our marvelous dishwasher, which happened to be on the same circuit as the Sea Leveler. Easy fixes, both.
The second problem is that, thanks to our very cheap step motor (you get what you pay for) after a few power cycles, the unit starts rotating in the opposite direction. Wonderful. Obviously the permanent fix is to get a slightly higher quality motor, but for now, isolating the circuit to reduce power surges will have to do.