Through a collaboration between our research team, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and San Diego Unified School District, we undertook the design of a low-cost and open water level sensor. The initial goal was to build a simple and inexpensive device that could be assembled by high school students prior to field trips to the site of the future Seaport Learning Center in downtown San Diego, then deployed for real-time data collection during those field trips.
The sensor ended up working so well (~ 1 cm root mean squared error vs. a much more expensive commercial unit) that we are now beginning deployments in coastal and estuarine settings where communities need additional real-time water level monitoring solutions. We also continue to use this device to teach sensor development courses including OCN 479/579 Smart Coasts (Bresnahan, UNCW), Applied Coastal Science and Engineering (Bresnahan, UNCW/Summer Ventures), and ORE 203L Surf Science and Culture (Briggs, UHM).
The article, A Low-Cost, DIY Ultrasonic Water Level Sensor for Education, Citizen Science, and Research, can be found here: doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2023.101.