At BEEP we aim to use technology to support the health of honeybees. Our goal is to build a measurement system, in cooperation with other parties, that has te following characteristics:
- Measurements on bee colonies and hives do support decision making about bee health:
- Weight of the hive
- Temperature (both inside and outside the hive)
- Sound in the hive
- Easy to use
- Robust and durable
- No recurring costs
- Open source measurement system
Based on these pillars we have designed and produced the BEEP base. The third version of the BEEP base is pictured below, including a list of the technical specifications.
The BEEP base consist of a very accurate weight sensor, supports up to five temperature sensors and records sound from within the hive. The standard BEEP base that was available through the Kickstarter campaign comes with one temperature sensor and one microphone. You can decide yourself whether you would like to upgrade your BEEP base at a later stage with more sensors. The frame of the BEEP base is made out of high quality stainless steel and will last for more than ten years. Your BEEP base sends data to your BEEP app through LoRa. The whole system is very energy efficient and can send data for over a year on only two AAA batteries. Furthermore, the internal memory of 64 MB can safe over two years of information on the BEEP base. Thus, when your apiary is not within a LoRa network and you do not want to install a LoRa gateway yourself, you can still access the data. And do you want a short break? You only have to turn the BEEP base on it's side and it will turn off automatically.
The centre of the BEEP base is the PCB. PCB stands for 'printed circuit board' and contains all connections for the sensors of the BEEP base - temperature, sound and weight - and had room for more. So, if you want to adapt the BEEP base to your preference, you can.
The PCB has been especially designed and produced for BEEP. Because of the purpose of the BEEP base, it is crucial that the energy usage is very low. It is based on the Nordic nRF 52840 64 MHz ARM®️ CortexTM-M4. It can collect data every 15 minutes for over 1 year on 2 AAA batteries. In sleep, it uses only 4,5 μA. With its 64 MB of memory the BEEP base can store two years of sensor information. Furthermore it consists of:
- over the air firmware updates (BLE)
- LoRa RFM95 868 MHz (EU) with uFL SMT antenna with wireless configuration
- 1Wire 1-5x sensor (DS18b20)
- I2C screw terminals
- 2 channel weight amp (HX711) screw terminals
- a low power 3V regulator
- unique hardware key IC
- magnetic reed switch
- tilt switch
- 2x AAA battery holder and, last but not least
- audio ADC (92 dBA SNR) + AGC with 3.5 mm jack input with 4 pins.
- Size: 75x50x23mm.
LoRa - Long Range
You can use LoRa to send and receive information in an energy efficient way. It works as follows: imagine your BEEP base sending text messages consisting of a few numbers. Your BEEP app receives this and translates it to information that you can understand. The information is sent over the gateways of The Things Network (TTN) that work as small transmission towers and the internet.
The energy usage of the BEEP base is also low because it only turns on once every 15 minutes for a few seconds. Long enough to measure the data and send it. That is why you can use the BEEP base on just two AAA batteries for over one year.
We recommend to use the TTN because you can use it for free, and there are no recurring costs. When there is no LoRa gateway close to the apiary, you can buy and install one yourself. For more information about LoRa and the LoRa gateways, click here.
Open source measurement system
It is no easy task to build an affordable and good measurement system. Fortunately, there are more people working on this objective. We make use of open source to share our software and hardware for the bee measurement systems. By using open source, everybody who wants can access the information and contribute to the development. Furthermore, it does not mean that all the inspections and measurement data will be shared as well. Those are and will stay property of the beekeeper.
BEEP is financed by public goods and we share our newly developed code through open source licencing. Are you a developer, electrical engineer or would you just like to work on the BEEP products? You can adapt the BEEP software and measurement system to your own requirements and contribute to further development. For more information about the technical details, click here.