From time to time, we do something kind of awesome. Sometimes it starts with a customer’s request, sometimes we foresee the need, but every now and then we start a project and a need surfaces that fits perfectly. It’s a lot like stars aligning, but you don’t need a telescope, an astronomy degree, and ancient Mayan hieroglyphs to be a part of the experience.
This time it’s a stand-alone water level sensor and display that can power itself up, turn itself off, display a digital reading, and whisk you away to level measurement geek-out land (batteries included).
It all started with the development of our Tank Cloud system, which uses Modbus communication protocol to pass sensor data to a master module that is connected to the Internet. However, the digital display created for this system doesn’t need the Internet, and can act as a master to query slave sensors.
So, if you put together our Modbus network display, or our MND, and any of our Modbus level sensors, you get a completely self-contained, stand-alone water level sensor and display.
When a few of our customers started using this in different ways, we knew the stars had aligned and we had created something cool.
How It Works
It all hinges on the display’s ability to control the sensor. What does it control? I’m glad you asked!
First, the display is able to turn the level sensor on and off. This is key because it automates power management – giving you the most readings possible on a single battery.
In case we forgot to mention, the sensor is powered by the MND’s battery. So no external power source needed. This means you can measure a liquid level just about anywhere. It’s even portable. And if you’re wondering, you can get as many as 2,500+ readings on a single lithium-ion 9V battery – depending on the sensor and how often you take a reading.
To keep the battery running as long as possible, you can program how long the sensors stays on. For our ultrasonic sensors, we recommend you keep it powered for 10 seconds. In perfect conditions you may only need three, but perfect is rare, so we like to account for variable conditions.
Second, the MND display can access and control sensor settings. That means you can change things like unit of measure, tank dimensions, or gain control. It also means you don’t need a laptop with a programming module if you don’t want one.
Once you’re done programming, the MND will display the current reading. The auto-off feature on the display let’s you control how long the display stays on – independent from how long the sensor stays on. So you can run your sensor for 10 seconds and your display for 30 seconds. This gives you the time you need to record the reading, but turns if off before too much battery power is used.
And if you’re wondering, the wiring is simple too. Instead of using wiring blocks, we simply use a connector, either on the sensor or on the display (or both if you really want). Plug in the connector and you’re good to go. In fact, you can swap out different sensors and it will all work perfectly. It’s truly plug and play.
How It’s Being Used
One of our customers is using this system as water level sensor on rented totes and tanks. Their customers can take a quick level measurement on the rented totes simply by pressing the power button.
Another way this is being used is on truck tanks. Since a traditional power source on a tank running down the highway isn’t really feasible, our MND/level sensor combo was the perfect solution. Again, the level check is as simple as pushing the power button on the display. Everything else is automated.
Finally, another customer sells and rents portable water tanks to the oil and gas field, where an immense amount of water is needed. Many of their customers like the water level sensor and display for a quick, easy, and accurate level check.
When it doesn’t make sense to bring in a PLC and SCADA software just to get a level reading, this display/sensor setup is a perfect fit. It’s also a great fit for measurements where a power supply isn’t really available. You can even use this as a portable tool for taking measurements in many different locations. It’s like the handy dandy digital level stick – but with real accuracy and dependability.
What Sensors Are Available?
There are currently three different water level sensors and one pressure transducer that can connect to the MND – and that are completely interchangeable. They include:
The MNU Ultrasonic Sensor
Reports to Modbus Master,
Range: 7 in. to 40 ft.
The MPX Magnetostrictive Level Probe
Explosion Proof Modbus Sensor,
Max Length: Custom
The PT–500 Submersible Transducer
Modbus Submersible Level Sensor,
The PT–400 Pressure Transducer
Modbus Pressure Sensor,
There you have it – a completely stand-alone water level sensor system. We hope you like it! Let us know if you have any questions, or if you would like to work through the details of how it can help you. We can even throw in a quote for good measure :)