sat, 06-oct-2012, 12:46
prototype sensor

Prototype temperature sensor

Last week I got permission to install a simple weather station where I work at ABR. The Fairbanks office is located on Goldstream Road, just past the intersection of Murphy Dome Road, across the street from the Peat Ponds. It’s on the uphill side of a south facing slope, and is about half a mile from Goldstream Creek. More importantly for me, I can find out what the temperature is at work when I’m dressing for riding my bike or skiing.

We ran three Cat5e cables from the computer room, outside and under a footpath, then down the hill from the Main building. The cables end up in a mixed spruce-birch forest, and the sensors will be about six feet off the ground in one of those cylindrical “white plate” style enclosures.

I’m using a pair of DS18B20 temperature sensors, which have a 0.5°C accuracy across their range, and will work down to -67°F. The data is retrieved using the One-Wire protocol, which is well supported by Arduino. I built a prototype of the sensor before soldering it down on a board because longer distances can require a smaller pull-down resistor than the 4.7KΩ typically used between the voltage and data lines. I also wanted to experiment with whether I could run two using parasitic power, or would need two data lines. As it turned out, 4.7KΩ worked, as did parastic power mode.

The schematic is below, including the wires I used in the Cat5e cable. I followed the PoE standard, even though I could really have used whatever wires I wanted.

I also used a contributed library called DallasTemperature which abstracts most of the work of using OneWire and converting the values into meaningful temperatures. Here's the setup code:

#include <OneWire.h>
#include <DallasTemperature.h>

#define ONE_WIRE_BUS 8

OneWire oneWire(ONE_WIRE_BUS);

DallasTemperature sensors(&oneWire);

// Use a testing program to find your addresses:
DeviceAddress thermOne = {
    0x28, 0xBC, 0x29, 0xE3, 0x02, 0x00, 0x00, 0xE1 };
DeviceAddress thermTwo = {
    0x28, 0xCF, 0x97, 0xE3, 0x02, 0x00, 0x00, 0xCD };

void setup(void) {
    sensors.setResolution(thermOne, TEMPERATURE_PRECISION);
    sensors.setResolution(thermTwo, TEMPERATURE_PRECISION);

And the part that does the work:

void printTemperature(DeviceAddress deviceAddress) {
    float tempC = sensors.getTempC(deviceAddress);

void loop(void) {


Here’s the schematic. The top form shows two sensors in parasitic power mode (where you only need a single data line, power and ground), and the bottom form shows how you’d wire a single sensor. If I had trouble with getting reliable data from the sensors in parasitic mode, or with a 4.7KΩ resistor, I would have dropped the resistor to 3.3KΩ or 2.2KΩ. The next thing I would have tried would be running power and ground to both sensors separately (coming from wires 4 and 7 in the cable), and used wire 1 and wire 2 for the data lines to each sensor. As it turned out, I’m only using three of the eight wires in the cable.


Update 2012-10-15: I moved the resistor from the sensor board (you can see it in the photograph at the top of the page) to the Arduino end of the cable inside ABR, and the data is still flowing. I was a little concerned that the resistor might be adding a small amount of heat to the enclosure, and putting it at the Arduino side prevents that possibility.

Update 2012-10-19: Today I added a third DS18B20 in parasitic mode and I’m getting data from all three sensors. I would guess the total cable run is around 100 feet from the Arduino to the sensors. So: 100 feet of Cat 5e, three sensors in parasitic mode, with a 4.7KΩ pull-down resistor between power and data on the Arduino side of the cable.

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