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Thread: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

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    Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Just curious if anyone has seen this - Drop: the smart pool monitor by Drop Designs Inc. Kickstarter

    I am hoping to see more conversation (via the comments section) on this as it moves along in the campaign and am trying to put together some questions I have regarding this device as well. I know there have been a couple of these types of devices pop up from time to time with varying (but mostly little) success. I've tossed around the idea of building my own, but just never seem to have the time to dedicate to learning enough to do this, not to mention, the sensors aren't cheap. It seems like I did come across some industrial pH sensors that didn't need calibrating, but was never sure if I trusted that idea or not. And then there's the whole enclosure issue. So, something like this appeals to my inner gadget geek.

    Would love to hear the thoughts of the great pool minds on this board - I respect the opinions and knowledge gathered here. Is ORP enough information to have an idea where your chlorine level lies? Would the pH sensor be accurate enough over the life of the device? I'm not sure I'd be interested at the full retail price, but getting in early knocks the price down to a range that I'm a little more comfortable with, though still on the fence. I know that when I looked at the industrial sensors (ORP and pH) when I was tossing around the idea of building my own, they were around $100 each, so if they are using high quality sensors, their prices may not be too far off.

    Thanks for any thoughts/input!
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  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    I have my doubts of this being useful ... all it is trying to measure is pH and ORP and temp. And there are many discussions on the forum about why ORP is not very trusted. And both sensors need calibration to have a hope of being accurate.

    And then look at one of the photos with the automated recommendations: "Please at 2 tablets" ... "Please add 5oz of Algae Control"
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    I saw the "treatment" recommendations - of course, not everyone has found TroubleFreePool!

    One of my concerns would be the longevity of the pH sensor (along with calibration), pair that with the limitations of ORP, and I'm skeptical. It seems in the past when I've looked into the pH monitors or sensors, I've always come away feeling like there's just not a reliable answer (aside from drop tests). I'm not really sure what my fascination is with this sort of thing - it's not like testing is all that hard or time consuming! Some days I feel like I'm on a mission to equip a totally self sufficient pool system. Though I do wonder the implications of it becoming self aware...
    19x43 Inground Vinyl Pool, approx 22 years old, no main drain, 2 (lopsided!) skimmers, 2 returns.
    1 HP Pentair Superflow Pump
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    Aquabot T-4 Cleaner

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Hi onewomanarmy!

    I hope you're having a great day, and I'm glad to be a new member of this pool community.
    For full disclosure, I'm CEO at Drop Designs Inc. Hopefully, I'll be able to clear your doubts about our product and engage in a fruitful conversation with everyone who's interested in drop among the TFP community.

    Our probes are indeed high quality and come calibrated with the product, so that you can take it out of the box and drop it into the pool right away.
    You will need to calibrate the probes, but only once a year through our smartphone app, in an easy process that will take you no more than 2 minutes. The calibrating fluids come with your drop, in a special calibrating cap. We believe that a 2-minute calibration once a year is much better than testing water balance every week.

    As you mentioned, these probes are expensive, and hence the price of drop. Indeed, we're only able to sell it at this price because we're buying the probes in bulk. If you think about it, though, you're saving yourself time each week, getting more accurate reads, saving excess chemicals, and protecting your children and pets.

    Best
    Alvaro
    Last edited by tim5055; 06-26-2015 at 02:13 PM. Reason: Remove sales talk

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Welcome to TFP, Alvaro!!!

    This is an interesting product, but like I said above, I have my doubts and I disagree with many of you statements which do not apply the the methods of pool maintenance we teach here.

    1. Sensor calibration
    How often can this be done? How long do your fluids last before someone has to buy more?
    We have seen over and over again that ORP sensors are unreliable in outdoor pools where CYA is present and that the ORP tends to fluctuate wildly.

    2. Testing
    Do you actually thing that test only the pH and ORP is acceptable?
    How are you going to determine what chlorine level to maintain when you have no mention of the CYA level which determines the required FC level?
    What about calcium levels? If this are too low you will ruin plaster pools. If this is too high you can run into scaling issues in all pools.
    How can you know what to do to adjust the pH level if you have no knowledge of the TA level in the pool?
    In fact, we do not recommend testing weekly, we recommend testing daily to ensure the water is always properly sanitized.

    3. Saving time and chemicals and protecting children?
    I fail to see how this would save much time. Testing pH and FC/CC takes less than a minute with the test kits we recommend. And you still have to spend the time adding the necessary chemicals (which your app appears to not follow anything close to the recommendations made here at TFP)
    You will not save chemicals, because the same chemicals will need to be added whether you have a floating apparatus giving me the test results or if I test them myself.
    Very little faith is given to digital testers, so the accuracy is certainly open to interpretation.
    Protecting kids/pets? That is just a scare tactic that is irrelevant whether your system is used of the methods we teach are followed.


    I have considered a pH sensor, but if I was going to have one, I would want it to be hooked up to an acid injection system to maintain the pH for me ... does not appear that is possible with this product.

    It is an interesting product, but I fail to see the value added given the shortcomings and limitations. For much less money you can get a good drop based test kit and KNOW you will consistently get reliable test results.

    I am sure there are people with pools out there who have yet to find TFP and might enjoy the technology and think it is somehow saving them money and making their pool water "better". But, I don't think you will find many at TFP ... and I will not be surprised in the future when people find TFP after running into problems trying to rely on products like this.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Hi onewomanarmy!

    I hope you're having a great day, and I'm glad to be a new member of this pool community.
    For full disclosure, I'm CEO at Drop Designs Inc. Hopefully, I'll be able to clear your doubts about our product and engage in a fruitful conversation with everyone who's interested in drop among the TFP community.

    Our probes are indeed high quality and come calibrated with the product, so that you can take it out of the box and drop it into the pool right away.
    You will need to calibrate the probes, but only once a year through our smartphone app, in an easy process that will take you no more than 2 minutes. The calibrating fluids come with your drop, in a special calibrating cap. We believe that a 2-minute calibration once a year is much better than testing water balance every week.

    As you mentioned, these probes are expensive, and hence the price of drop. Indeed, we're only able to sell it at this price because we're buying the probes in bulk. If you think about it, you're saving yourself time each week, getting more accurate reads, saving excess chemicals, and protecting your children and pets for a reasonable price.

    Best
    Alvaro

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Hi jblizzle! Thanks for welcoming me to TFP!

    Thanks for your questions. I'm glad to have the opportunity to address these concerns in this forum. Hopefully we can learn a lot from each other.

    1. Sensor calibration
    As mentioned in my previous post, drop's probes needs no calibration out of the box and needs to be calibrated once a year after starting to work. Our calibration liquids are good for calibration for 5 years.
    Our advisors (members of the Independent Pool and Spa Service Association, Silicon Valley Chapter) indicate that an ORP level above 650 mV, combined with a balanced pH, is a reliable metric for assessing water balance in outdoor pools.

    2. Testing
    There is an intrinsic relationship between ORP level, pH level, and chlorine level. To learn more about it you can read this paper.
    drop don't test for calcium levels. In order to have drop test for everything, its price would have to bee extremely high. So we had to focus on the most relevant and frequently tested variables. How often do you recommend to test for calcium levels?

    3. Saving time and chemicals and protecting children and pets
    If you recommend testing your pool with the traditional test kit every day, and each time it takes you 1 minute, with drop you can save 365 minutes (6 hours) per year. I could use those extra 6 hours!
    You will indeed save chemicals! One of the biggest disadvantages of the test kit is that it only tells you the chemical levels of the water. There's no insight beyond that point whatsoever. You only know if the water is in good or bad condition and then you have to guess how much chemicals to use. In contrast, drop knows the exact chemical levels and also knows the volume of water in the pool (you input the pool dimensions during the app setup). Therefore, the app can give you the accurate amount of chemicals to be thrown into the water. And that's how you save chemicals: by preventing over use of chemicals.

    Protecting kids and pets is an actual feature of drop. The device is equipped with a 3-axis accelerometer and measures acceleration at all times. Every time acceleration in the water surface goes over a defined threshold, all family members get an alert notification on their smartphones, prompting people to go and check out their pools for potential accidents. And that's how drop actually does protect children and pets. We are a team of 2 Stanford MBAs (also engineers) and 1 industrial designer. We are serious professionals, and would never use a scare tactic. I actually almost lost a nephew in a pool when he was 2 years old and I was 10 years old, so I wouldn't play with this very sensitive subject. In fact, we take it extremely seriously, and our aim is to help reduce the big number of kids dying each year in accidental drownings (more than 1,000 each year in the United States alone, according to the CDC).

    Best
    Alvaro

  8. Back To Top    #8
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Well I signed up for one . will see how they are I hope it works out. can't wait to get mine in the mail

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Thanks for the response.

    1. From my understanding, which is limited, ORP is not that simple. You have to determine the appropriate mv readings for each pool to match a desired FC level. Interestingly, you have yet to address the stabilizer, CYA, level which is critical in knowing the required FC level and whose level impacts the ORP reading. It is the FC/CYA relationship that seems to not be understood by most of the pool industry, even though the science has existed for 40 years. Funny enough, your screenshot recommend adding products that include and raise the CYA level, yet you do not test for it. That is a recipe for disaster.

    2/3 Most of our members test the water and use our PoolMath calculator to know what to add. We believe in understating the basic chemistry, knowing the levels we want for all parameters, and then adding only what we need to get there. I would not trust an app that did not let me set my own targets to tell me what to add.

    4. I failed to recall the accelerometers in the unit as a safety device and thought you were speaking only in terms of sanitation. That is a neat feature, assuming that the wind or a pulsating cleaner hose would not trigger it. Being sensitive enough to sense a small child slipping in would seem to me to likely result in many false alarms like similar systems before this one.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Thanks for your responses, Alvaro! I still like the idea, based on the fact that I tend to test pH and chlorine much more often than I test CYA, and more often than I test alkalinity depending on different factors. While I realize there are limitations with ORP, I also think it would be interesting to watch ORP levels along with the drop tested chlorine levels and understand how they do/don't relate. I find pool chemistry interesting and would use this in combination with my TF test kit, which will not be replaced so easily! I would also stick to the minimal chemical additions that I use now, those I learned here on TroubleFreePool which have kept me and my pool very happy in the years we've owned it.

    Thanks again for stopping by and answering questions, I hope your project is successful and continues to grow!
    19x43 Inground Vinyl Pool, approx 22 years old, no main drain, 2 (lopsided!) skimmers, 2 returns.
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  11. Back To Top    #11
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    I wonder if this is the device made by the same guy that did the circulator.

    in a phone conversation with him once, he told me he was working on something just like this.
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    I have some experience with ORP measurement in pools. The main issue is that above 30 ppm of CYA ORP shows very little change for large changes in FC levels and becomes unusable for measuring FC. For pools with low levels of CYA, ORP can be used. I would expect that this unit would be usable for anyone with a SWCG. The use of a SWCG generally requires a CYA level of 60 to 80 ppm.
    7,500 gal, IG pool, L shape 22' x 15', 1.5 hp pump, cartridge filter, AquaPlus SWG/Controller, Pebble-Tec liner.

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    Quote Originally Posted by dschlic1 View Post
    I have some experience with ORP measurement in pools. The main issue is that above 30 ppm of CYA ORP shows very little change for large changes in FC levels and becomes unusable for measuring FC. For pools with low levels of CYA, ORP can be used. I would expect that this unit would be usable for anyone with a SWCG. The use of a SWCG generally requires a CYA level of 60 to 80 ppm.
    you mean unusable..

    I also disagree with this sentiment:
    "One of the biggest disadvantages of the test kit is that it only tells you the chemical levels of the water. There's no insight beyond that point whatsoever. You only know if the water is in good or bad condition and then you have to guess how much chemicals to use"

    This entire site is based upon knowing exactly what your target should be and exactly how much chemical to put in to get there.

    I could see something like this useful maybe for renters or absentee home owners who want to monitor from afar and text their neighbor when the pool needs more CH. Something like that. But this would presume that the homeowner ALREADY knows all the relevant levels, like CYA, and ht athte device is accurate reading CH at the given CYA level. IF all of that is understood to the purchaser, there could be a use for this as a supplemental tool.
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  14. Back To Top    #14
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    Re: Wireless Pool Monitor on Kickstarter

    I would worry about a product vendor who comes to a forum like this, tries to make a big splash (lol), makes 2 posts and vanishes after being asked some difficult questions. I won't be dropping any of my cash into that project. They averaged $290/backer from 186 backers. Wow.

    -R
    29,085.1 gal inground grecian vinyl, Hayward Super Pump VS, Hayward S-240 sand filter, Dolphin Nautilus Plus (aka Agador Spartacus), Taylor K-2006 kit, nice pool brush, crappy leaf net, frogs

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