Measuring Stream Velocity with Wireless Probes

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2020 StreamTeam TempHeader.jpg
Updated Probe Circuit (temporary image)
Sponsors USDA Forest Service
Team Name Stream Team
Duration Fall 2020 - Spring 2021
Faculty Adviser Steve Beyerlein
  • Pete Robichaud
  • Bob Brown
Team Members
  • Cole Bailey
  • Joshua Camper
  • Anthony DeSantis
  • Max Rietze

The goal of the project is develop Bluetooth technology that can communicate wirelessly with 2 or more conductivity probes to measure small stream velocity. With the readout of the probes, probe settings, and software be accessible from a tablet or smart phone.

Problem Definition[edit]


The old system

Measuring velocity in large stream channels have use a variety of successful means from current meter to acoustic devices. However these instruments do not work well in narrow, shallow, steep stream channels. For these shallow small streams various methods have been used. The simplest method uses a tennis ball or equivalent that is timed over a set distance. Small current meter are used but sometime are only partially submerged thus do not provide reliable measurements.

We currently use two conductivity probes connect with wires to microprocessor and a laptop computer. A salt solution is added to the water and salt solution pulse measured as it passes by the two probes which are separated by a set distance (2-4 meter). We use software to read and graphically-observe the microvolts readings of the conductivity probes which is related to the salt concentration. This technique has been successful on small streams and even shallow rill flow on hillslopes.


Stream Velocity
  • 2 L/min to approximately 4 cfs
Range of Communication
  • Approximately 6 stream widths between the probes
  • Bluetooth readings 100ft away from probes
  • Peak to Peak calculations
  • Integration of curve with 5% error
  • Data exported to Excel for tablet access
  • Wireless data acquisition
  • 8 reading per second from each probe
  • At least 2 probes reading simultaneously
Additional Specifications
  • Lightweight
  • Long battery life
  • Weather proof housing
  • Withstand extreme temperatures

Design Development[edit]

There are three main areas of design, the circuit, the app, and the housing. The probe circuit will take the measurements, and do all the calculations before sending the data to the app. The app will receive the data from the circuit and have a user interface so the data can easily be read in real time. The probe housing will hold the circuit and must be waterproof and durable.

Circuit Design[edit]

Circuit Version Description Diagram Picture
Initial Circuit


Takes reading from secondary probe, then data is sent through secondary Nano to primary Nano using the HC-12 Wireless communication module. Then the data from the primary and secondary probe is sent from primary Nano to smart device through HC-06 Bluetooth module.


  • Each Nano only has one serial communication port and we have 3 serial devices
  • HC-06 Bluetooth module doesn't work with iPhones
Initial Circuit Design
Initial Circuit Picture
Updated Circuit


Takes reading from secondary probe, then data is sent through secondary Nano to sub-primary Nano using the HC-12 Wireless communication module. Then the data is sent from the sub-primary Nano to the primary Nano using I2C communications. From the primary Nano, the data of both probes is sent to the smart device using the HM-10 Bluetooth module.


  • Using 3 Nanos instead of 2
  • Using HM-10 Bluetooth module instead of HC-06
Updated Circuit Diagram
Updated Circuit Picture

Power Consumption[edit]

Test results will be added here when completed


Part Description Image
Arduino NANO board x3
  • Small size is perfect to go inside probe holder
  • Has 3.3V and 5V outputs to power all components
Arduino Nano Board
HM-10 Bluetooth Module x1
  • Small size is perfect to go inside probe holder
  • Range up to 100 meters
  • Works with any Bluetooth devices
HM-10 Bluetooth Module
HC-12 Wireless Communication Module x2
  • Has affective range of up to 1 kilometer
  • Runs on 3.2-5.5V
HC-12 Wireless Communication Module
Analog TDS Sensor x2
  • Runs on 3.3-5.5V
  • TDS Measurement range: 0-1000ppm
  • Water proof housing
Analog TDS Probe
Battery Holder x3
  • Output of 6V
  • Has 9 volt battery connector so we can switch to 9 volt battery if we want
Battery Holder

User Interface[edit]

User Interface Version Description Diagram
Initial App Interface
  • Has Start, Stop, and Reset buttons
  • Box to input distance between probes
  • Shows data from probes in graph in real time
  • Shows voltages on each probe in real time
  • Automatically calculates the velocity of the steam after data collection is ended

Initial App Design
Updated App Interface
  • Has all the same function as the previous design


  • Added a button to save data collection to Excel file for later use
Updated App Design

Probe Housing[edit]

Probe Housing Version Description Diagram
Initial Probe Housing Design


Has two main pieces of PVC that slide together with the lower piece having holes so the probe can be set on the bottom of the stream bed and still have water going past the probe.


  • No room for probe circuit in the handle
  • only extends approximately 2.5ft
  • Small locking wing screws can be easily dropped and lost
  • Large diameter PVC in stream will have too much drag and can be easily swept away
Initial Probe Housing Design
Updated Probe Housing Design


This design has a 2 inch section of PVC for the handle that will hold the probe circuit. It also has two 2.5ft sections of small PVC to make it extendable to whatever size is necessary.


  • Changed wing screws to telescoping clamp that will not be able to fall off
  • Added large diameter handle to hold probe circuit
  • Got rid of PVC piece with holes in it
  • made diameter of PVC that will be in the stream much smaller to reduce drag
Updated Probe Housing Design


Part Description Image
Parts for probe housing will be added soon

Final Design[edit]


Team Members[edit]

[[File: |180px|center]]

Cole Bailey
Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Salmon, ID
Responsibility: Probe circuit design, App design

[[File: |180px|center]]

Joshua Camper
Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Nampa, ID
Responsibility: Probe circuit design, WikiMaster

2020 StreamTeam AnthonyPhoto.jpg

Anthony DeSantis
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Mountain Home, ID
Responsibility: Probe housing design, Budget

2020 StreamTeam MaxPhoto.jpg

Max Rietze
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Boise, ID
Responsibility: Probe housing design, Team documentation

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule


Meeting Minutes



Snapshot 1
Design Review(Embedded video no longer works, see link below)
Snapshot 2 (Embedded video no longer works, see link below)


Snapshot 2/Design Review Video

Other Documentation

Design Validation