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Generator monitoring system



During and in the wake of hurricane Florence, the Public Works department at Lejeune Marine base faced great difficulty managing their power requirements. Generator health and fuel levels  could only be investigated in person with a dip-stick - which is nearly impossible during a hurricane and at the scale required by one.


Our team of humanitarian engineers created the fuel gauge for real time remote monitoring of fuel levels and fuel health. A floatation arm is connected to a potentiometer within the device. As the fuel levels change, the potentiometer position is varied. The Arduino device then uses this input to remotely transmit fuel level values via Xbee radio signals and visually indicate the fuel levels on an LED strip.


The device was designed to fit on any generator by merging with existing technology on generators. For information transmission, all the fuel gauges served as end nodes in a star network centered around a handheld unit. The handheld unit allowed one to send an information request to any selected fuel gauge for real time information about the generator health and fuel levels. This allows one user to monitor multiple generators from a range of tens of miles. 

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Generator module including LED ring to display generator fuel level upon button press (to save power) 

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Handheld monitoring device. Can remotely query individual generators and have health remotely communicated onto device.

My role

  • Concept generation and selection

  • Xbee RF communication programming and integration

  • Arduino programming

  • Module integration, calibration and testing

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Lessons learned

Our original prototype includes an LED ring that went from BLUE to RED depending on the generator health. However, during user research we learned that most people who would monitor generator health are those who do not qualify for sailing and flying and thus, likely have RED, BLUE color blindness. 

Our final prototype included a YELLOW to BLUE color transition. 

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