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We designed the Mayfly logger system to be very easy to build and deploy. In fact, we’ve been teaching workshops to school groups and citizen scientist programs for the past year and I was actually in Grand Forks, ND earlier this summer where we gave a 2-day workshop at UM-Crookston. With most of our school workshops, we taught middle-school and high-school students some basics of electronics and coding/programming, and then we gave them kits and let them build a logger, assemble everything in the waterproof enclosure, and then show them the tips and techniques needed to successfully deploy the station in a stream. We also talk about maintenance and troubleshooting and how to QA/QC the collected data, and and some general scientific background to help them understand why we’re collecting the data and what the different parameters (turbidity, conductivity, pH) mean in the big picture. This was all part of a pilot program from the EPA to develop workshop materials and teaching curriculum based on the Mayfly board and various sensors. If you’d like, we could send you some of the information when it’s published.
And as for the circuit boards themselves, they are very simple to use. We can supply the code you need to program the board for most logging deployments (most of it is already available on our Github page), and almost all sensors simply connect to the board with simple jacks or screw terminals, so there’s no soldering or electrical engineering background needed. It gets powered by a small LiPo battery with a small solar panel to keep it continuously charged. The hardest part is making sure the enclosure you mount the sensors in is waterproof, and that you install the sensors in the water in a way that gives reliable data and can withstand floods/ice/mud etc. We use a variety of sensors from low-cost short-term deployable sensors to rugged research-grade sensors that require much less maintenance but cost several times more. So choosing the sensors really depends on your budget, how often you want to maintain them, and the quality of data you want to record. Using the Mayfly is not much harder than any other modular logger/sensor station you could build from other, more expensive commercial hardware options. In the end, you’ve still got to protect a logging device from the weather by putting it in some sort of enclosure along with a source of power, then mount your sensors and hope they can survive whatever flood events will eventually happen. The Mayfly significantly lowers the entry cost for building a station, plus you can use just about any sensor you want from any manufacturer without worrying that it isn’t compatible with a different brand. Plus you can use the Mayfly for any other regular Arduino-type microcontroller project, so it is a very versatile little circuit board.