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Riffle: an Open Source Water Monitoring Approach

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The Riffle is a collection of designs that take an open source approach to water monitoring, with the intent of making gathering water information easier and more accessible. It is part of Public Lab's Open Water Project.

For an overview of the design philosophy behind the Riffle, and what constraints and uses it was aimed at, see this wiki page.

Public Lab has supported development of an Arduino-compatible Riffle version - a datalogger enclosed in a water bottle. This is great, because the Arduino community is huge, and lots of knowledge and troubleshooting resources are now applicable to the Riffle project. (The first Riffle design was an ARM-based datalogger board enclosed in PVC)

Riffle Water Monitor Designs

By now, several instrument designs have been constructed around the Riffle, some of which of are described in an array of Github repositories:

Sensor Designs

We've started to summarize some of the approaches to sensing water parameters like conductivity and turbidity:

Activity grid

Here are some activities the Public Lab community has conducted using the Riffle

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Riffle Beta project - Methane Gas Sensor - - @Bob - - 0 replications: Try it »
Soaring Riffle field-test - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Compost is hot, says Riffle field-test - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
In the heat of the pile observe - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Blink a LED - Write a 'Sketch' and build a breadboard circuit for the Riffle build review-me @pdhixenbaugh 1h medium 1 replications: Try it »
Riffle test 1 verify - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Riffle campout test-limits - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »

Add an activity  or request an activity

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Project Status

2017: A second small order of Riffle_328 boards was shipped on May 30th, and is on its way to the Public Lab kits department in Portland, Oregon. From there it will be sent to Public Lab community members who ordered them. The Riffle was available for pre-order until March 17.


2016: A small order of Riffle_328 boards arrived late April 2016, and were sent to Public Lab community members as a way of testing the design and informing further development.

Projects using this riffle can be found at https://publiclab.org/tag/riffle and https://publiclab.org/tag/riffle-beta

How to get a Riffle Datalogger

The Riffle is open source, so if Public Lab is not currently offering it for sale, anyone can take the designs above to a PCB fabricator and have one made, copy and remix the design, or investigate other dataloggers.

Riffle Alternatives

The following dataloggers also have a real time clock and log to a micro SD card as the Riffle does. All of them are based on Arduino and will run more or less the same sketches. These are all open source hardware.

  1. EnviroDIY Mayfly Logger. Designed at the Stroud Water Research Center and commercially available through Amazon but currently out of stock (as of Feb 2017).
  2. Adafruit Feather M0 and Adalogger FeatherWing RTC + SD Add-on. These are two commercial products which snap together.
  3. Cave Pearl Project logger. Ed Mallon's design for a DIY data logger made from very inexpensive clone components (Arduino Pro Mini, SD card board, RTC board). Requires soldering and care.
  4. see more open source data loggers collected on the Data Logging page


Title Author Updated Likes
How do I install a bootloader on a Riffle data logger? @warren 18 days ago
What would be a good basic activity to test out a data logging device in water? @stevie about 1 month ago
What are the differences between the Nano Data Logger and the Riffle? @warren about 1 month ago
What are some lessons learned using the Riffle? (Especially Underwater) @pdhixenbaugh 4 months ago
How to use Alkaline Batteries with the Riffle? @pdhixenbaugh 4 months ago
Question: purchase sensor @frabisog over 2 years ago

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Related Questions

Since the Riffle is Arduino-compatible, here are also some Q&A for Arduinos in general:

Title Author Updated Likes
Seeking DC-area folks interested in building temperature sensors for urban heat island measurement @carohowe 7 days ago
What are ways to record ambient temperature every 5 sec and export easily? @carohowe 8 days ago
How do I install a bootloader on a Riffle data logger? @warren 18 days ago

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The Riffle is also a part of a larger area on data logging. Here are some Q&A asked more generally:

Title Author Updated Likes
No matching content.

Ask a question  or help answer future questions

Title Author Updated Likes
Why does the first elevation reading show up about order of magnitude too large? @liz 27 days ago
What's the battery life of the Nano Data Logger? @warren about 1 month ago
What are the differences between the Nano Data Logger and the Riffle? @warren about 1 month ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions

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list:plots-waterquality activities:riffle upgrades:riffle parent:data-logging