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Drops in detail

Collector developed at Unesp records volume of rainfall, date and time of occurrence

RENE PEGORARO/UNESPCollector has low consumption of energyRENE PEGORARO/UNESP

In the distant year of 1442, the farmers of South Korea were already managing to measure the quantity of rain that fell on their lands, and with the use of this information, which was sent to Seoul – the capital of the kingdom, they would plan the crops. The measurement was done with a piece of equipment made of metal in the format of a drum, with a scale inside, which later on, in the West, was given the name of pluviometer. Over five centuries later, new functions were added to this device, which is used by meteorologists, cattle raisers, building companies, hydroelectric power generating companies, and other sectors.

In spite of the great demand, even today almost all the electronic instruments for measuring rainfall found in the Brazilian market are manufactured abroad. Seeing that there was a lack of a totally Brazilian device that could easily be adapted to the needs of the local users led Professor João Eduardo Machado Perea Martins, from the Computing Department of the School of Sciences of the São Paulo State University (Unesp), in Bauru, to develop an automatic data collector, capable of storing large quantities of pluviometric data, processing information, economical in the consumption of energy and with a low cost of assembly. “The commercial value of the imported product comes to as much as US$ 500, whereas the cost price of putting our collector together is US$ 25”, he says. Perea is preparing to patent the collector and says that he has had several queries from companies interested in getting to know the project.

The equipment is small in size and works coupled to a pluviometer, a plastic container that captures the rainwater. At each 0.2 millimeters recorded, an electrical signal is sent to the collector. During the period in which it remains in the field, the device records not only the volume of rainfall, but also the date and time when it occurred, minute by minute. The collector has a memory where the recorded data is stored, to be transferred afterwards to a computer. The software that the computer uses to receive the data was also developed by Perea and can be adapted to local researches.

Information preserved
The researcher tells how everything was thought out to simplify the installation of the equipment in the field. “You just tighten up two bolts to connect the pluviometer to the collector.” The lack of electricity is no problem, either. Three batteries ensure that it will work for up to two years. The information is not lost if there is any failure. “It has a special memory, which preserves the information even when the energy runs out”, he explains. The director of the Meteorological Research Institute (IPMet), in Bauru, Maurício de Agostinho Antonio, used the collector in the experimental stage and mentions as its main advantages its low cost and its good temporal response. According to Osmar Cavassan, from Unesp’s School of Sciences, also in Bauru, “the equipment makes it possible to correlate variations in the fauna and flora with the physical characteristics of the environment, in particular of the climate and the soil”. He is now awaiting the installation of the collector in its final version to use it in research projects, mainly on ecology.

The Project
Implementation of an Automatic System for Acquiring Pluviometric Data (nº 01/10754-5); Modality Regular line of research grants; Coordinator João Eduardo Machado Perea Martins – Unesp; Investment R$ 46,315.00