Wine bottle storage quality sensor thesis

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
Good evening all,

Background:
I am final year Electrical & Electronic engineering student currently in the process of completing my undergraduate thesis. The thesis topic consists of making a low-cost, non-intrusive, battery powered electronic device that is small enough to fit in the punt (the under dome) of a wine bottle. This electronic device will be used to track the storage conditions (temperature, humidity, and ambient light) of luxury wine. A user-interface will be used to display the storage conditions. The aim of this device is to give confidence to the buyer that a wine has not been spoilt when bought at auction, wine retailers ect.

I am currently busy with the hardware design, and I’ve hit a roadblock. I feel as if I’m heading in the total wrong direction. Any guidance/advice will be appreciated. I have chosen to use the DF robot beetle (https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1075.html) as the micro-controlling unit (MCU). The 5V MCU will act as the master and communicate with sensors (which will act as slaves) via I2C. The sensors which I’ve chosen are:

The problem comes in with the battery. The device will be taking reading once every hour and then deep sleep will be activated. The goal is to use a primary battery (non-rechargeable) and attempt to get 1-3 years of operation time. I originally wanted to use coin-cells battery’s due to the low profile, but they are only useful in low current projects. I have settled on a 9V lithium battery which has a rather large profile (https://docs.rs-online.com/fabf/0900766b81549eff.pdf).

The 9V battery will be connected to low dropout voltage 5V regulator to power the microcontroller. Voltage division will then be used to step down the 5V rail to 3.3V for the sensors. A PCB will be designed using Altium and housing with Autodesk inventor. UART will be used to communicate to the user-interface, or a removable SD card will be implemented on the PCB if there is enough space.


The questions I have are:
  • The battery solution feels inefficient, is there a better approach to solve this solution? Will making use of an Arduino Nano (a much larger board) which has an input voltage of 7-12V be a better solution? This MCU also offers both 5V and 3.3V pins. Will the battery be able to last as long as the beetle?
  • How can I go about calculating the total power dissipation of the system which can then be used to calculate the potential battery life?
  • Is there a totally different approach to take? An intrusive design is on the cards but the objective for now is keep the design non-intrusive.

Any help/suggestions will be greatly appreciated :) Sorry for the long read!
 

Attachments

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
14,902
Welcome to AAC!
The aim of this device is to give confidence to the buyer that a wine has not been spoilt when bought at auction, wine retailers ect.
Unless this device is integral to the bottle, how can a buyer be certain that it wasn't tampered with (e.g. taken from a bottle that was stored properly)?
The problem comes in with the battery.
Wireless charging comes to mind. The feasibility would depend on how the bottles were stored and the quantity.
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
Welcome to AAC!
Unless this device is integral to the bottle, how can a buyer be certain that it wasn't tampered with (e.g. taken from a bottle that was stored properly)?
Wireless charging comes to mind. The feasibility would depend on how the bottles were stored and the quantity.
Thank you for the response. The buyer can never be certain it wasn't tampered with. This research project is more a concept than an actual product. Thank you for bringing it to my attention
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
9,078
There are smaller microcontrollers some of which draw a fraction of a microamp in sleep mode. Check Microchip among other suppliers for the chip with the minimum required I/O (pin count and functions like A-to-D, PWM, etc.).

Generally, the few transistors on the chip, the lower the standby and sleep current. The ATMEGA328 has 32K of flash, plus some RAM, no need for all that memory for such a simple task. You can save memory in your history log by only logging exceptional events -if the environment factors are ok, no need to record anything.

Run the slowest clock rate you can -this is likely to preclude I2C (TW) interface. Some controllers allow you to switch clock speeds on the fly. This could pay off if you can use the feature to minimize the batter drain.

Your sensors are pretty good but you are probably going to eventually go to simpler and lower power sensors because you don't need excellent accuracy but instead need to know when there is too much to too little heat or light. For the photo detector you probably don't need to have a photopic response, a simple photo transistor or photodiode with preamp should be enough.

At this point, you can probably proceed to breadboard using the materials you have selected but it would help to point out the power and cost savings that would accrue in an actual development in which you could justify investing non-recoverable engineering (NRE) costs.

Yes, as dl324 has pointed out security is an issue. What's to stop somebody from putting a piece of black tape on the photo sensor? What's to stop somebody from switching out the original monitoring circuit with a new one that has artificial hours on it? It may help your grade to mention possible security features.
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
Voltage regulators and voltage dividers waste energy.
Use buck or boost converters instead.
Thank you MrChips, I'm aware that the VDO and voltage division was not well thought-through idea in terms of efficiency. I'll take a look at using a boost converter instead.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,060
The idea of monitoring storage conditions, or monitoring contents or usage patterns have been integrated in various forms as a label and printed battery by Adrich. They managed to go from idea in 2015 to a commercial product offering in about 2-years to getting their smart labels on products from major brands in just another year later. A bottle of wine would have to be pretty premium to justify the cost of an Adrich label but the technology is pretty cool. You can check them out at https://www.adrich.io/.

I believe they are licensing several patents so it will be difficult to nail down the exact technologies they are using but it is a very low current method as the battery has very low mAh of capacity.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,467
Rather than using any voltage converter, choose your devices so that they will all operate on 3V and use a lihium primary cell.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,266
Perhaps you should re-evaluate your choices in light of your goals. You want to document the treatment of the bottle, and because it is for the benefit of the buyer, provenance might also be an important element.

You are dealing with three things: sensing environmental conditions, storing them, and making them available to the buyer.

There might be a better architecture for this purpose since you are already counting on the honesty of the agents in the chain from production to auction, each step where the bottle will be stored.

In your current architecture you are depending on completely autonomous operation of the system for each bottle but approaching it differently might help to make it more practical. Does all of the infrastructure need to be attached to the bottom itself?
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,060
Have you thought about how well the light sensor is going to work in a bottle of red wine standing upright?
The light sensor will not be needed in that case since an upright bottle is already stored improperly. Corks dry out and leak air if stored upright. Then, Each change of temperature allows air to be pushed out as it warms a degree or two and draws air in as it cools, the new oxygen causes undue oxidation.
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
There are smaller microcontrollers some of which draw a fraction of a microamp in sleep mode. Check Microchip among other suppliers for the chip with the minimum required I/O (pin count and functions like A-to-D, PWM, etc.).

Generally, the few transistors on the chip, the lower the standby and sleep current. The ATMEGA328 has 32K of flash, plus some RAM, no need for all that memory for such a simple task. You can save memory in your history log by only logging exceptional events -if the environment factors are ok, no need to record anything.

Run the slowest clock rate you can -this is likely to preclude I2C (TW) interface. Some controllers allow you to switch clock speeds on the fly. This could pay off if you can use the feature to minimize the batter drain.

Your sensors are pretty good but you are probably going to eventually go to simpler and lower power sensors because you don't need excellent accuracy but instead need to know when there is too much to too little heat or light. For the photo detector you probably don't need to have a photopic response, a simple photo transistor or photodiode with preamp should be enough.

At this point, you can probably proceed to breadboard using the materials you have selected but it would help to point out the power and cost savings that would accrue in an actual development in which you could justify investing non-recoverable engineering (NRE) costs.

Yes, as dl324 has pointed out security is an issue. What's to stop somebody from putting a piece of black tape on the photo sensor? What's to stop somebody from switching out the original monitoring circuit with a new one that has artificial hours on it? It may help your grade to mention possible security features.
Thank you for taking the time to respond, your input is valued. You've raised some very good points. I've gone back to the drawing board as it is clear that I've approached the problem incorrectly. I've decided to make use of a more efficient microcontroller which has an input voltage range of 1.62-3.63V. I hope to make use of a 3V CR2032 coin-cell battery which will require less space. The coin-cell has an end voltage around 2V and can supply around 6.5mA of current when used in a pulse drain mode (from my research, these coin-cells can likely supply more current). I have chosen new components that require much lower supply currents and are able to operate at lower supply voltages (<2.15V).

The components I'll now be implementing are:
  • Light sensor (I started designing a photodiode operational amplifier circuit as recommended but then I came across this little bugger. The sensor uses a remarkable 0.65μA during operation)
  • The same humidity and temperature sensor. (This temperature sensor will be used to assure the main sensor is working correctly)
  • A new main temperature sensor. (I realized the infrared sensor, no matter how cool, was a power hungry and impractical sensor)
  • An accelerometer to indicate if the bottle was stored vertically or horizontally. (More on that later)

Security and tempering of the device is within the scope of the project. I've been brainstorming and have a very vague idea, the practicality of which is currently unknown. But the idea is basically "a trip wire" that if the device is pulled from a bottle it was originally placed under (stuck with some sort of adhesive) the device will indicate that this has occurred as the "trip wire" has unplugged. (Logic gate?) A very loose and problematic idea I know but that is not the main focus as of now. A better solution will have to come in the future.
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
The idea of monitoring storage conditions, or monitoring contents or usage patterns have been integrated in various forms as a label and printed battery by Adrich. They managed to go from idea in 2015 to a commercial product offering in about 2-years to getting their smart labels on products from major brands in just another year later. A bottle of wine would have to be pretty premium to justify the cost of an Adrich label but the technology is pretty cool. You can check them out at https://www.adrich.io/.

I believe they are licensing several patents so it will be difficult to nail down the exact technologies they are using but it is a very low current method as the battery has very low mAh of capacity.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention MrSalts. I'll take a deeper look into this, very cool and innovative tech!
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
Perhaps you should re-evaluate your choices in light of your goals. You want to document the treatment of the bottle, and because it is for the benefit of the buyer, provenance might also be an important element.

You are dealing with three things: sensing environmental conditions, storing them, and making them available to the buyer.

There might be a better architecture for this purpose since you are already counting on the honesty of the agents in the chain from production to auction, each step where the bottle will be stored.

In your current architecture you are depending on completely autonomous operation of the system for each bottle but approaching it differently might help to make it more practical. Does all of the infrastructure need to be attached to the bottom itself?
Your points are very valid Ya'akov. The buzzword of this project at the moment is non-intrusive. The idea is that wine collectors, makers and retailers do not have to change their current storing and transport solutions. The topic shouldn't be taken to heart as clearly there are many logistical issues that arise when we think of how it will be implemented in society. The topic is more a beginning point of an idea that can be built on later.
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
The light sensor will not be needed in that case since an upright bottle is already stored improperly. Corks dry out and leak air if stored upright. Then, Each change of temperature allows air to be pushed out as it warms a degree or two and draws air in as it cools, the new oxygen causes undue oxidation.
I have completed the literature thus far and this topic seemed to come up regularly. It is common belief in the wine industry that the orientation of the wine is essential to prevent oxidation which can cause unpleasant odour and taste in the wine. However some scientists tend to disagree. The plan was always to add an accelerometer later on (version 2) after the other sensors were up an running. I have now decided to include an accelerometer in the design from the start. Thank you for your input MrSalts!
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,060
I have completed the literature thus far and this topic seemed to come up regularly. It is common belief in the wine industry that the orientation of the wine is essential to prevent oxidation which can cause unpleasant odour and taste in the wine. However some scientists tend to disagree. The plan was always to add an accelerometer later on (version 2) after the other sensors were up an running. I have now decided to include an accelerometer in the design from the start. Thank you for your input MrSalts!
Research might say not necessary but the perception that wine experts have is key to your product's success. Nobody investing in a 10-year old case of wine wants bottles that were stored vertically. Wine racks hold bottles horizontally for a reason. Synthetic corks and screw cap bottles are another story but those stoppers are also questionable for high-value wine selling to the oenophiles. Maybe you'll get extra credit for using "oenophile" in your write up.
 

Thread Starter

Svennn

Joined Aug 17, 2022
14
Research might say not necessary but the perception that wine experts have is key to your product's success. Nobody investing in a 10-year old case of wine wants bottles that were stored vertically. Wine racks hold bottles horizontally for a reason. Synthetic corks and screw cap bottles are another story but those stoppers are also questionable for high-value wine selling to the oenophiles. Maybe you'll get extra credit for using "oenophile" in your write up.
Thank you for bringing it to my attention! I'll be sure to make use of it.
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
9,343
Good evening all,

Background:
I am final year Electrical & Electronic engineering student currently in the process of completing my undergraduate thesis. The thesis topic consists of making a low-cost, non-intrusive, battery powered electronic device that is small enough to fit in the punt (the under dome) of a wine bottle. This electronic device will be used to track the storage conditions (temperature, humidity, and ambient light) of luxury wine. A user-interface will be used to display the storage conditions. The aim of this device is to give confidence to the buyer that a wine has not been spoilt when bought at auction, wine retailers ect.

I am currently busy with the hardware design, and I’ve hit a roadblock. I feel as if I’m heading in the total wrong direction. Any guidance/advice will be appreciated. I have chosen to use the DF robot beetle (https://www.dfrobot.com/product-1075.html) as the micro-controlling unit (MCU). The 5V MCU will act as the master and communicate with sensors (which will act as slaves) via I2C. The sensors which I’ve chosen are:

The problem comes in with the battery. The device will be taking reading once every hour and then deep sleep will be activated. The goal is to use a primary battery (non-rechargeable) and attempt to get 1-3 years of operation time. I originally wanted to use coin-cells battery’s due to the low profile, but they are only useful in low current projects. I have settled on a 9V lithium battery which has a rather large profile (https://docs.rs-online.com/fabf/0900766b81549eff.pdf).

The 9V battery will be connected to low dropout voltage 5V regulator to power the microcontroller. Voltage division will then be used to step down the 5V rail to 3.3V for the sensors. A PCB will be designed using Altium and housing with Autodesk inventor. UART will be used to communicate to the user-interface, or a removable SD card will be implemented on the PCB if there is enough space.


The questions I have are:
  • The battery solution feels inefficient, is there a better approach to solve this solution? Will making use of an Arduino Nano (a much larger board) which has an input voltage of 7-12V be a better solution? This MCU also offers both 5V and 3.3V pins. Will the battery be able to last as long as the beetle?
  • How can I go about calculating the total power dissipation of the system which can then be used to calculate the potential battery life?
  • Is there a totally different approach to take? An intrusive design is on the cards but the objective for now is keep the design non-intrusive.

Any help/suggestions will be greatly appreciated :) Sorry for the long read!
Hello,

I've dealt with long term running projects using microconstrollers. The key is to use one that allows nano power operation and only sense the environment once every so often, not every millisecond or even every second. The longer you can go without a new reading the longer the battery lasts. One i did was a refrigerator monitor that had AA batteries that would last for 2 years. That's a long time for batteries to last in an electronic device. One of the main points is that a new reading was only needed about once every 10 minutes (or something like that). That meant that the MCU would only have to wake up for maybe 1ms every 10 minutes to take a reading, and the rest of the time it could stay in sleep mode where the power consumption was in the nano watts. Since power is proportional to duty cycle, if you make a measurement that takes 1 millisecond every other millisecond you only use 50 percent power, so if you measure for 1 millisecond every second you only use 1/1000 of the power, and of course 1 millisecond every 100 seconds you only use 1/100000 of the power, etc., etc. There is a limit to that of course but that's the basic idea.
Still i question if 2 years would be enough because this would be best for expensive wines that are relatively old such as 10 to 25 years or more. That means the device has to be ultra reliable as well as have some sort of constant input power or periodic charging to replenish the battery.

This kind of project also falls under the category of security and that's probably the toughest category :)
One of the really important points i think is that the way a wine shows a problem is through the chemical changes that it went through over the years not necessarily what happened to the bottle. I would think a bottle could be sitting on a wine rack for 20 years and then the wine dumped out and replaced with new wine. To ensure that the measurement traveled with that particular liquid for the entire time would probably be impossible to guarantee as there are still too many ways to get around the system. Also, since the best test is to taste the wine i would think that a chemical measurement of some kind would be the ultimate test that would tell all about the past treatment of the wine itself. If you could do that it would be really great, provided that somebody hasnt done that already.

As a point of purely electrical design i guess it would be an interesting project, but if you could make it a practical one as well, you win the bigger prize :)
 
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