Groundskeeper Assistant

Overview:

This work aims at helping soccer groundskeeper to monitor and control the water level on the field. This assistant helps groundskeeper by using Augmented Reality to visualize the moisture level on the ground and also control the water level on the ground by turning the water pump on or off remotely from the AR application. This AR application also has the capability to monitor and control the water level automatically.

Problem:

The amount of water on a pitch can affect the performance of players and sometimes could lead to injuries. Water sprinklers are used for maintenance of a healthy pitch. Also for the grass to grow well it needs a significant amount of light and water on a regular basis. Usually it is down to the groundskeepers walking over the pitch to see which areas required water before manually turning the sprinklers on the grass that needs it the most in order to keep it in a healthy state. It is imperative to have a system that automatically monitors the water level by visualizing and activating the sprinklers either before the match, during half time or after the match. There is also the challenge of water distribution management. Today, about 55% of irrigation water and a third of that for domestic use and industrial production is currently lost, not only due to a real material lack, but mainly to inefficient distribution and use.

Motivation:

It would not be disputed to say football is the world’s largest sport. According to Nielsen’s World Football Report an annual survey of the sports audience in 2018 before FIFA World Cup in Russia which spanned 18 global markets, 43 percent of the people said they were “interested” or “very interested” in sport in 2017. Consequently, more than four out of ten people consider themselves soccer fans, making the game the world’s most popular sport. A solution in this area of sports will make a global impact, using cyber physical systems to replace the old manual methods and system. This innovation also provides solution to the complexities of the system which is in use at the moment.

Prototype:

List of components and connections:

NodeMCU Microcontroller: This microcontroller is inexpensive and works with 3.3v. It has inbuilt wifi module which makes it ideal for use with IOT devices. It has external flash of 4 MiB and 14 output/input pins. A0 port to read values from soil moisture sensor and D0 port connected to relay which is further connected to water pump. The microcontroller is fed with instructions by programming in Arduino IDE.

Soil Moisture Sensor: The soil moisture sensor detects the moisture level of the soil and estimates the soil volumetric water content based on the dielectric constant (soil bulk permittivity) of the soil. The dielectric constant can be thought of as the soil’s ability to transmit electricity. The dielectric constant of soil increases as the water content of the soil increases. This response is due to the fact that the dielectric constant of water is much larger than the other soil components, including air. Thus, measurement of the dielectric constant gives a predictable estimation of water content. [5]. Soil moisture sensor is connected to port A0 of the microcontroller to read the values from sensor.

Relay: To connect water pump motor it require a relay module. Relays are electromechanical devices that use an electromagnet to operate a pair of movable contacts from an open position to a closed position. The advantage of relays is that it takes a relatively small amount of power to operate the relay coil, but the relay itself can be used to control motors, heaters, lamps or AC circuits which themselves can draw a lot more electrical power.

NPN Transistor: The power supply of micro controller is 3.3v requires a transistor to drive the 5v relay with 3.3v, if microcontroller is connected to relay, it may fry the controller, also the transistor can provide fast DC switching of the relay coil. Thus the transistor here used to connect relay to microcontroller.

Water Pump: The water pump uses 12V voltage supply, it is connected to one end of water pump to relay and one end to 12V power adapter as shown in Figure 1, so that the power to the pump is switched based on the signal from the relay.

Circuit Diagram
Augmented reality view on Unity Mobile application

By importing a 3D model of ground pitch and placing it on Vumark for visualizing the pitch on Unity. Added necessary buttons for Turn On, Turn Off and Automatic, with a text field to display the moisture level. Images and text were added to make it more visually rich. When you click on the button, the light stays red, this is to identify the user that the button is active. This eliminates ambiguity in operating these buttons.

Takeaways:

The solution offers a wide range of functionalities which includes, improving and saving time of the decision-making process during field activities, it also minimizes water wastage. The presence of simple graphic elements on the real scene, in addition to allowing an easier visualization of the surroundings makes it easy to take actions quickly and for the groundskeeper to use the assistant to operate the water pump remotely. The automatic mode allows for self-operation of the system; the watering of the ground will work based on moisture on the pitch. Thus the implementation will make complex system of watering simple.