Smart Bronco: Choosing Sensors for the Real World

Going from proof-of-concept to prototype, aka my single 1988 Ford Bronco II, offers up some challenges. Rather than using Seeed Grove to prototype temperature using a simple generic temperature and humidity sensor (the DHT11, if anyone is asking), I need to figure out how to read the coolant temperature from the engine block of a greasy 30-year-old Ford.

That means I need to consider a few things:

  • Temperature range (0 degrees F to about 300 degrees F ought to do it)
  • Thread size and pitch in engine block (3/8″ is the size and NPT, or National Pipe Thread, which indicates the pitch of the threads)
  • Waterproof (’cause it’s going to be in coolant)
  • Analog-to-Digital output (going from the analog input of the real world to a digital output requires some calculation, one that I’d prefer not having to figure out manually)
  • Accuracy (accuracy to about 1 degree F would be ideal, it can be a little more flexible but the more accurate the better)
  • How fast it responds to temperature change (how fast does the temperature vary? I might need to know if the temperature shoots up quickly! A few seconds would probably be fine)

Obviously these are a lot of things to keep in mind. You’ll be the first to know when I find a sensor (or a combination of things) that fits the bill!