Thesis – Struggling to graduate: Water Quality Sensor

Posted on January 29, 2009


I still have to find a scientist inside…

On my not very constant effort to finish University, I still struggling to finish writing my thesis.

It gets even harder when your daily activities are not at all related to the paper. It takes a long time before I’m able to concentrate, I always need to read through again and again… remember what I meant, where exactly I wanted to go.

Well… my paper itself is about a device to identify water quality. My intention is to develop a sensor that you can plug on your mobile or palmtop to be able to execute a easy and fairly precise analysis of the water quality.

My plan for this weekend is to finish it in one shot… non stoppable. Well… it is Saturday 16:30 and all that I did was to open few files. That brings me to a certain philosophical question… WHY can I not concentrate on that? It has been over a year I started, but I’m not able to finish it. I know that this should be my life priority right now, but I just can’t… I might loose 5 years of University for not finishing this damn paper.

Why? In good Portuguese people would say ‘Falta de vergonha na cara’… but I think it is a bit deeper than just being shameless… It has to do with my personality and with my current life style, both are keeping me away of doing…not just my thesis, but many other things. My body is tired and I struggle with motivation. That’s the dreamer I’ve always been…

Long ago I found the importance of writing to be able to put my thoughts in order. So…maybe writing this post now, exactly at the same time I try to write my paper, might help me also to concentrate. With that, I can post you some interesting things I found out about the subject. And I really mean it…the subject is awesome.


It was about 20:30 when I tried to add another piece here… 20:30 of Sunday! Yes that means I was almost about failing my objectives for the weekend… had written not more then 4 lines over the weekend and finding a few more articles as reference for the work.

I wanted to comment at that point a long converation I had with a friend back home about how she should take the challenge of her job, because she seems to be good at that, to drive it for a change she expects there. That is my real passion, help people, encouraging them to take action… I believe in Social Responsibility as a very realistic and powerful way to change things! Make our world sustainable… going further… I would even say a fair place.

My thesis is something harder for me because I do not believe anymore in its importance… it is indeed important for me. As I will not have a diploma without that.

About 22:00 I was ready and determined with those words… when Jorge Amado and his Captain of long courses took me out more two hours on their story of dreams, destiny and humanity, as pure as it is… how far are we of being able to judge the truth, or simple about what is really the importance of judge the ‘truth’. I’ve never read Jorge Amado before, but that book convinced me about his fame.

Well… now is 00:24, technically, I missed again my objective… how can I be credible if I do not acomplish my own milestones? Can’t really explain, but I always go for the more adventurous way… I still canot give up. I go for the night, 1 liter of coca cola and my not strong enough but never completely fade-away hope to get this work done. I need to be let free from this part to be able to go deeper on my passions…

Do you know how many kinds of Thermometers exists? I must admit I had no clue before… you can check at wikipedia:

Just to put in context, after a research on environmental water quality indicators ( I do recomend UNEP, an UN department to consults of this matters), I deceided for a few indicators to measure the man influence in water quality by Industry and Agro-Industry. Basically a need to put together a few meters (Temperature, PH, Conductivity, DIssolved Oxygem) and hopeffuly or either Mervury or either Phosfurum analys as well.

With that tought I go for the night, that should have started way earlier but that I was never motivated enough, and when I was finally ready, wordpress didn’t help me loosing my last words here throwing me on Jorge Amado’s lovely book.


01:55 with a very simple and not satisfactory chapter about the thermometer…I really feel tired now. Not giving up yet.


Well…to make a long story after that short… Today is Thursday, I did not finish writing my thesis. I did sleep Sunday night exausted, not capable to keep my eyes open anymore after add few word about the sensors I need to put together to my proejct device. Monday started late to work and with an email to my Tutor excusing me.

I learned that I still have a month to go at least.`

Just in case people are wondering… there are quite a few websites teaching how to build your own Measurement systens. Here it goes two links, one for a PH-meter ( and one for a Conductivity-meter (

And bellow is the conclusion from the Water Quality and Indicators research, when defining which parameters the device should be able to detect:

Conclusion Section 1




Based on the studies of water quality and the effects of Industry and Agriculture over aquatic systems, it is possible to select a few parameters that would help to identify if an aquatic environment has been affected by human interaction pollution.

Temperature, pH, Conductivity, Total Dissolved Oxygen, Phosphorus concentration and Mercury concentration showed to be important parameters to identify water quality.

Their evaluation over time will allow us to detect human interaction and the combination of them in comparison to guidelines will allow the user to get a on the sight evaluation of the water body.

Water Characteristic


Anthropogenic Influences



Thermal Pollution, Sedimentation



Sedimentation, Acidification, Salinization



Acidification, Salinization

Dissolved Oxygen

Mg/L O2

Thermal Pollution, Sedimentation


Mg/L P

Sedimentation, Euthropication


µg/L Hg

Metal Contamination

 Well… That’s the first post about my monography. When I started I hoped to be the only one…