Cypress’ Maker of the Month: Sensing the World Contest Winners, Mahesh Subramanian and Narashiman Parthasarathy
At Cypress®, we are all about solving our customers’ problems with our state-of-the-art solutions. We love problems because we are passionate about solutions. The Maker of the Month series recognizes unique projects created by the maker community and their design problems that were solved using Cypress technology. For more information about Cypress’ maker community involvement, check out the rest of our Maker of the Month series and our efforts to empower up-and-coming engineers via the Cypress University Alliance (CUA).
We’re excited to feature Mahesh Subramanian and Narashiman Parthasarathy, better known as Team locogenii, as Cypress’ “Sensing the World” contest winners for the Asia Pacific & Australia region and our Makers of the Month for June 2017. For the contest, which Cypress hosted in partnership with Hackster and Mouser, Team locogenii created an Aquaponics Monitoring and Control System (AMACS) to showcase how Cypress’ PSoC® Analog Coprocessor Pioneer Kit could be used to create an aquaponics system.
Can you please provide some background about yourselves and how you first became familiar with Cypress?
We are a team of engineering grads from India. Mahesh has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from IIET, Chennai and Narashiman has a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics technology from Manipal University Jaipur.
Mahesh: I’m from Chennai, India and work as a hardware engineer at a company called AKAS Medical, Chennai. I spend my free time dealing with nature conservation, just a tiny step towards saving what we have got. The rest of my time I spend playing Indian classical instruments like the tabla, mridangam, etc.
Narashiman: I currently work as a hardware engineer at an Indian based start-up, Turtle Shell Technologies, where I work on developing “Dozee,” a sleep tracking device which is underpinned by PSoC 4. This project is how I learned about Cypress Semiconductor. I also use PSoC because of its impressive CapSense® technology and built-in Analog to Digital Converter (ADC).
Tell us about your Aquaponics Monitoring and Controller System (AMACS) and what Cypress technology is being used in the project.
We wanted AMACS to be a one-step, standalone solution that takes care of aquaponics with continuous control, monitor and maintenance by using the PSoC Analog Coprocessor ARM M0+. AMACS monitors the environmental conditions like pH, conductivity and temperature of water, flow rate of water, and water levels in the pool and grow bed. From there it can autonomously control the water and pH levels, make early predictions of failure cases and give alerts in cases of instability of quality of water, requirements to change the water, electricity cut off, and water shortage. Due to the presence of built-in op-amps and many ADC channels, the Cypress MCU is ideal for this project.
How did you get the idea for the AMACS?
We’ve been worried about climate change and other disastrous events that have impacted farming. We were thinking of solutions and among them were conventional farming techniques. With minimal water use and space, a hybrid system known as aquaponics is being used all over the world.
Aquaponics is a system that combines the conventional aquarium type aquaculture with hydroponics (plant cultivation in water), creating a symbiotic environment. It creates an ecological system in which the excretions from fish serve as a nutrient for plants, helping the plants to grow. Also, since the plants intake the waste of the fish, the water gets cleaned regularly and recirculated to the aquaculture. This type of system is becoming a lexicon for many people, however many people do not adopt this system because of the high-risk of fish death, failure of the system, and non-availability of electronic systems for continuous monitoring and control. This project enables both the conventional and unconventional methods to pursue farming more effectively, irrespective to any climatic conditions and resources required for farming, by using the electronics based monitoring system which helps in early detection and alert, thus preventing adverse effects.
Were there any challenges or difficulties that you encountered while you were developing the AMACS?
When we began the implementation of the project, we were unable to find sources (in terms of reliability and accuracy) for these types of special sensors from our local markets so we ended up importing things from the U.S.
We faced a lot of dilemmas mostly related to implementation, specifically when trying to include the water flow planning with auto cut-off, but we finally succeeded on our fifth iteration.
How did Cypress’ technology help execute your projects, and what are the benefits you’ve seen with using these technologies?
Cypress’ PSoC 4 is amazing compared to any other MCU because of its availability, programming method and, of course, low-cost. By using PSoC Creator™, we were able to create our first set of test programs for checking all sensor values in less than two hours.
Two important technical features of PSoC that never fail to impress us are the high GPIO current source/sink and the in-built reconfigurable op-amp with huge gains and reconfigurable GPIO pins. We made use of these in our in-built op-amp and got great results. When we used these built-in op-amps in other MCUs, they usually weren’t up to the mark or had less gain factor.
Are you working on other projects that use Cypress’ technology?
Yes, we are currently working on improving our design and are working on a miniature sensing device, which is built using PSoC 4 BLE. We are happy to say that we are getting incredible results because of the low power consumption, the size reduction (even at the prototype level), and also because of the ease of use of Cypress’ technology.
Any other comments you want to add?
We both became very huge fans of Cypress’ PSoC and are planning to use it for all our hobby electronics projects. Hail PSoC!
For questions or more information, you can reach out to Team locogenii via the following platforms:
Thanks again to Team locogenii for participating in our Maker of the Month program. If you would like to be considered for our next Maker of the Month profile, please email us and share a brief description of what project(s) you have made using Cypress’ technology.