Wednesday 27 August 2014

Building the Device - Day 3!! - We are almost there !!

We made great progress on the third day of building the device. We were able to complete the mechanical part of the device and also test the electrical part of the device.

Completing the Mechanical Part

So on Day 1, we were able to make the wooden clip and on Day 2 we were able to complete the clip assembly and we also prepared the float ball and the rod which would fit into the shaft. We've also soldered all LEDs, potentiometers, buzzer and resistors to wires and finally we've started coding the micro-controller.

Day 3 involved smoothing out the parts of the mechanical wood assembly and finally assembling them. We were able to attach the rod from the ball to the pipe shaft as shown below

Ruben and Quadri and completing the mechanical assembly
The completed mechanical assembly with the pipe shaft attached to the pipe rod

 As you can see from the picture above(right), we were also able to attach the potentiometer to the pipe shaft. So the mechanical part was completed.

 Completing the Electrical Part

So we needed to attach the wires, LEDs,resistors, buzzer, potentiometer to the microcontroller. We also needed to upload the programmed code to the microcontroller and test the whole system to make sure it does what we wanted it to do. After we did all the above, we did a first test of the electrical system only while it was wired to the potentiometer.
Moses and Seyi making sure the wires are firm enough for the potentiometer

Writing the code that runs our prototype

Moses fixing wires from the micro-controller to the pot attached to our mechanical assembly

Moses, seyi and gafaar debugging the code for our system

The finalized circuit that would complete our prototype

Our work bench for debugging and wiring

Assembling the mechanical and electrical parts for preliminary testing

Preliminary Tests

For our preliminary Tests, we decided to attach a tap at the base of our plastic tank so we could be able to drain the water away when we needed to. We drilled into the plastic and attached a tap at the side bottom
A tap attached to the bottom of our plastic tank. Water was already poured in the tank for testing
Below is a video of the operation. The first test didn't go as we wanted, the alert buzzer didn't sound when we wanted it to but hey! that's why we needed to test it in the first place. The first test enabled us to see our mistakes in real-time and correct them. 
So by Day 4, we should assemble the whole device with the plastic tank and the microcontroller, attach a switch to a battery that would power the microcontroller so we could turn off the device when we wanted (when the tank is full and you have been alerted successfully to put off the pump), and test it thoroughly to make sure it works without any errors.

So the next post would include a video of the full operation without any errors and bugs hopefully.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Building the Device!! - Day2 - Electrical Work Started

Wow, Day 1 was fun. We made progress in building the device by making the clip that holds on to our bucket. Day 2 involved making the other parts of the wooden assembly and starting some electrical work and coding. We were also to shape the wood to fit the other assembly parts.

So we decided to split ourselves into two groups to make building the device faster. Ruben and Quadri would work on shaping the wood to form the assembly shown in our model while Moses, Seyi, Gafaar and Demilade would start some electrical work. 

Some Changes !

So while shaping the wood, we thought of the difficulties we would have in making a wooden cylindrical shaft since we didn't have machines to do that for us. Considering that fact, we decided to go for a plastic pipe to serve as the shaft which would go through the holes. 
Also we thought of using a metal rod that was already fastened to the float ball as the rod seen in our model. We thought it would be easier and faster since we need not shape the rod again. 
The Team dimensioning the rest of the assembly parts. From Left: Ruben, Demilade, Quadri, Gafaar, Seyi

The other part of the clip that would contain the shaft( marked hole) which would then be attached to the ball
Quadri Drilling the holes where the shaft would go into 

The float ball which would be attached to the shaft. We changed the design by using a metal rod instead of a wooden thick rod as seen in the 3D model
The Pipe we plan on using for the shaft. It would be cut to fit the model

The Electrical Part

We needed to start work on the electrical part of the device. Moses Seyi, Gafaar and Demilade worked on Soldering the wires to the potentiometers, LEDs, and resistors. Moses would then work on programming the microcontroller to do our bidding. 
An circuit schematic drawn for the electrical part of the system
Seyi Soldering wires to the LEDs we are going to use for the visual indicator
Moses Soldering the wires to the pot

Demilade after we've finished the Soldering

Moses preparing the Microcontroller Board
Gafaar Soldering some more LEDs

The look of the brain of our electrical system  on Day 2
So there it is, By Day 2 of building the device, we've finished shaping the wood for completing the clip assembly and we've prepared the float ball and the rod which would fit into the shaft. We've also soldered all LEDs, potentiometers, buzzer and resistors to wires and finally we've started coding the micro-controller.
By Day 3, we should have finished both the mechanical and electrical assemblies and would be integrating the electrical assembly into the mechanical assembly

Building The Device !! DAY 1 - Making the wooden Clip

TEAM NOVA started building the device on the 6th day of Impactlabs. We decided to go with wood for the structure of the device for prototyping and use a plastic ball for the floater. On Day 1, we planned to finish building the clip that holds on to the plastic tank

Building the wooden clip
First we decided to cut a block of wood into the desired clip as shown below. We had some difficulties shaping the wood. But in the end, we got our desired clip. Below is the 3D model of the wooden clip we were trying to get and the shaped one we made in the lab. Fairly similar huh?. Day 2 would involve building the other end of the wooden clip which contains the shaft and maybe build the shaft itself.

The Team dimensioning the wood for the clip. From Left: Seyi, Quadri, Gafaar, Ruben

Ruben and Moses Finalizing the Clip

The Wooden Clip we shaped
3D model of the wooden clip

Sunday 24 August 2014

List, cost of required Materials , Tools needed and plans for testing

We have been told to watch out for cost when considering our design and TEAM 'NOVA took that into consideration.


  • Wood
  • Adhesive 
  • Plastic ball
  • Plastic materials 
  • Big plastic bucket
  • 9V battery
  • An Arduino board(optional, we could have used a simple circuit completion to trigger the buzzer but we +chose to go with a micro-controller for prototype  because it is convenient and fits into our design , and also because we had a free one to use)
  • Black paint for coating
  • LEDs
  • Bolt and Nuts
  • 8 ohm speaker or buzzer
  • Electrical Wires
  • Resistors
  • PCB or breadboard


  • Saw
  • Nails
  • Woodwork Hand tools
  • Soldering Iron
  • Spanners
  • Drill


  • Potentiometer x2  #50
  • LEDs    #10
  • 9V battery with snap  #100
  • Soldering Iron  #150  
  • Soldering Lead  #150
  • Buzzer  #70
  • Speaker  #50
  • Vero Board  #70
  • Jumper wires  #50
  • Male to female connectors  #60
  • Switch #20
  • Plastic Plumbing ball with iron rod for fastening #800
  • Bolts, Nuts and Spanner   #220 
  • Big plastic bucket container  #800 
  • Adhesive  #350  
       Total = #2950 


Testing can easily be carried out. We just need some quantity of water and a bucket simulating the tank



About the Water Level Alert System prototype (How it Works, How it looks)

The Water Level Alert System

For the Water level Alert System, TEAM ‘NOVA decided to go with a prototype device that would do the following : 

--  Detect the water level in a tank
-- Transfer the detected level information to an alert mechanism
--  Alert through a buzzer or speaker when the tank is full
-- Indicate through a visual indicator and possibly a buzzer or speaker when tank is almost empty 
-- Put off the pumping machine when the tank is full. (We couldn't include this in the prototype because we don't have access to a pumping machine for the prototype

Detecting the Water level in a tank

To detect the Water level in a tank, we thought of going with a floating mechanism 
that floats with the level of water in the tank. We needed a material less dense than 
water and ball like. 
We decided to go with a plastic ball.

Transferring the detected level of water to an alert mechanism

To transfer information of the level of water, we thought of a link mechanism that 
would link the floater to the alarm. TEAM ‘NOVA decided to go with crank attached 
to a shaft to make the motion of the floater rotate a shaft

Alert System

For the Alert system, the rotating shaft would rotate a potentiometer creating 
different analog signals corresponding to different levels of water in the tank
(low, average, high) which would then be converted to a digital signal that puts off
 an alarm

Visual Indicator 

Along with an alarm, For Visual Indication, we decided to go with LEDs, where a Green 
LED would indicate a full tank, a Red LED would indicate an empty tank, and possibly a 
yellow LED would indicate an average water level

The main problem was finding a cheap way to convert the analog signal to a digital one 
to control the buzzer and the LEDs. We had the option of a simple circuit completion to
 send the information of the water level to a buzzer. But we couldn’t apply that for low,
 high and average level alarms to our mechanical system.
TEAM ‘NOVA decided to go with a very cheap microcontroller board like an ARDUINO, or


As the water level in the tank rises, the floatrises with it. The rising motion of the
float causes the rotational of the shaft which then rotates a potentiometer. The potentiometer then sends an analog signal to the microcontroller. The micro- controller then sounds the alarm and puts on the LEDs corresponding to the high and low water levels.

Here is a 3D Model of the device made with Autodesk Inventor:

And here is a video of its basic operation:


Materials, Tools and cost of resources needed to build the device would be discussed in the next post.

Saturday 23 August 2014

About the Problem of Water overflow in tanks

TEAM 'NOVA decided to go with the idea of building a Water level Alert Device to solve the common problem of water overflowing from tanks in homes during pumping.

The Problem  

The Problem of water overflowing from tanks while pumping is a very common and annoying problem in both urban and rural areas. This common problem causes other undesirable problems like
  • Flooding as a result of the overflowing water which may be excess in some cases running into drainage systems.
  • Damage of the structure on which the tank is mounted on. Continuous water spill on the structure would weaken them over time especially in rural communities where wood is used as the support.
  • Wastage of Valuable water needed in rural communities where most houses depend on a single tank for water supply
  • Waste of Electrical power and increase in power bills as a result of extended periods of pumping after tank is full
  • User inconvenience. Owners of bore holes would have to patiently watch the tank to prevent overflow 
A member of TEAM 'NOVA also interviewed random people of the problem of overflowing water in tanks and surprisingly everyone that was interviewed confirmed that it is a general and annoying problem faced  in their homes and communities. A particular person that was asked about the problem lamented about how tank overflow has caused various occurrences of flooding on the streets where he resides and how he has to patiently watch the tank for overflow even if some water would have already spilled before he goes to put off the pumping machine.

                                             The Solution

TEAM 'NOVA decided to come up with a device that detects the level of water in the tank at particularly the low level(tank almost empty) and the high level(tank almost full) and it gives an audio visual indication when the water level rises towards the top of the tank so that the water pump can be switched off to prevent the overflow.This would solve the problem of the water overflowing from the tank and also solve the problem of user inconvenience

Details of the device, how it works, materials needed to build it and how our design and cost compares to other alternative devices would be discussed in the next post.

Friday 22 August 2014

Problem Statements and Project Ideas by Team Nova

On the third day of Impactlabs, we were asked to make teams to identify problems in homes and communities and come up with an project idea to solve them. 

TEAM 'NOVA came up with the following :

Problem Statements

  • Unsteady supply of water in homes
  • Overflow of water in the tank while pumping water in homes
  • Unsteady Domestic Power supply
  • Unpleasant odours and gases generated by sewers in communities             


  •  A device to store gases generated from sewers and utilize the gases for cooking
  •  Water tank overflow Alarm Device (warns when tank is full or almost empty)
Team 'NOVA decided to go with the Water tank overflow Alarm Device

 Backup Choice

A device to store gases generated from sewers and utilize them for cooking

Details of the problem and the means to solve it would be discussed in the next post