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iPhone app for making swales

 
Posts: 11
Location: Central and Eastern Ohios
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forest garden bee solar
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so, I created an iphone app a few weeks ago that can be used like a transit level. here is a little story and a video. I'll add more as I overcome my camera shyness.

This all started a few years ago, I had the idea and started building the app on my own, but I never finished it. The idea rattled around in the back of my head since then, but once I was laid off it all came rushing to the foreground. I had recently listened to Paul's podcasts on residual income and figured I could get a little going with the app. Originally I was going to focus on Permaculture and swales, so i called it Swale Builder.

Once I had a working model of the app it became clear that it could be used for WAY more than just swales. So I changed the name to Sight Leveler since its really a sight level (hand level) like this:



If the app is just hand held its a little fiddly to keep it accurate. Just like the hand level above. So I mounted my phone on a monopod - think wooden stick and rubber bands - then i could make much more accurate measurements.

It works by using two sets of crosshairs and the camera. The camera feed is on screen with the crosshairs, one set of crosshairs is fixed and doesn't move. The other set 'floats' around getting information from the level built into the phone.
When the two sets of crosshairs are aligned, then whatever is in the crosshairs is level with the camera lens.

When I mark contour lines with the app, I drive a stake in the ground that is taller than the phone and monopod. Then I mark the stake right at the camera lens. Now there is a point of reference to aim at. Walk 10 or so feet from the stake and point the phone camera at the stake. Move the monopod up or down the hill and align the crosshairs until they are level with the mark.

Here is a graphic I made that shows the steps:



This is a video that I made for making a level grade line between two points:



I will come back and add more images and videos of the monopod and how the crosshairs work.
Here is a link to the apple store if you want to run out and buy it right now, its $3.99 and I'll be adding more features like setting the slope and degree display.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sightleveler/id1412688582?ls
 
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This is very cool. Would be helpful in so many ways!!

 
pollinator
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Interesting!

Have you done tests to compare how accurate it is against traditional methods of laying out contours (eg water levels etc...). I don't know what the accuracy of the phone gyroscopes is like in practice.
 
scott mack
Posts: 11
Location: Central and Eastern Ohios
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forest garden bee solar
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Thanks Lyda!

Michael, Yes I have tested it. I marked some swales using my iphone and sightleveler, then checked them with my Topcon laser level. Using sight leveler I could mark about 25 feet in each direction of a marker post and it was about 1 inch off compared to the laser. The gyroscope seems pretty accurate, where you get error is that the camera isn't mounted in the phone exactly perpendicular with the gyro, I added a calibration setting to compensate, that made a huge difference!
 
pollinator
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This sounds amazing. I mean, there are a lot of people on this site who use their mobile as their primary means of accessing permies and the internet, from what I can tell. Most people have a smartphone of some kind, so buying an app is probably more accessible than buying the requisite equipment for doing the same thing.

Will there be an android version?

-CK
 
scott mack
Posts: 11
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forest garden bee solar
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Chris, yes there are plans for an android version. I have not started it yet, but as the iphone version gains traction I'll add features and build it out for android too.
 
pollinator
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Really good idea. I'm Android, this would be worth trying for sure. I'm working in brushy areas where lots of the methods are a pain.
 
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Looks like it is now $1.99 on the App Store.
 
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