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Development of a low-cost, geo-referenced, electronic penetrometer

Grant number: 98/15042-9
Support type:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: June 01, 1999 - April 30, 2002
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Electrical Engineering - Electrical, Magnetic and Electronic Measurements, Instrumentation
Principal Investigator:Nelson Luis Cappelli
Grantee:Nelson Luis Cappelli
Company:DLG Automação Industrial Ltda
City: Sertãozinho

Abstract

In the first stage of the project a technical and financial feasibility study was undertaken for the manufacture of a low-cost, geo-referenced, electronic penetrometer. An initial prototype was built for the main purpose of identifying potential technological and financial difficulties. The function of the proposed equipment is to determine the cone index (resistance of the soil to penetration), as a function of the depth of penetration and geo- referenced position of the equipment. This electronic penetrometer will enable data to be obtained swiftly, accurately and at a low operating cost, for the preparation of geo-referenced maps of layers of compacted soil. The construction of the initial prototype showed the technical feasibility of developing a commercial product. Pilot equipment will be developed to be assigned, by way of demonstration, to research institutions and companies interested and qualified, in order to subject it to normal use and thus identify any weak points. It is also proposed to achieve a finished product intended for sale by the company associated with the project. The determination of the occurrence of compacted soil layers is essential to scientific studies requiring a survey of the local control of experimental areas and it will contribute to determining the physical state of the soil, both in pedological studies and in those designed to assess the machine-soil-plant relationship. The initial prototype of the equipment uses a cell with an extensometric load as a sensor of the penetration strength. An electronic ultrasound type sensor is used to measure the depth of penetration. The geo-referenced position, furnished by a Global Positioning Systems (GPS), is read through a serial interface. This same interface is used to transfer the data from the penetrometer to a PC. This has nonvolatile memory enabling storage of the data and an alpha-numeric display used to configure and operate the equipment and to view the results. (AU)