Reading propane levels with ATmega328 and Wi-Fi

Want to know how much propane is left? There’s an app for that! 

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer grilling season. And with a number of picnics and late-night barbecues planned in the coming weeks, nothing is worse than throwing a nicely marinated steak or a pack of burgers onto the grill only to find out that your tank is out of propane. Fortunately, Makers Frank Vigilante and Brendan Glunz have devised a simple solution that can keep you informed as to how much gas is left in an easier, more efficient manner.


Initially designed for MAKE: Magazine‘s Pitch Your Prototype competition and a recent entry in the 2015 Hackaday Prize, the DIY device dubbed ProReg works by attaching to any standard brass valve between a propane tank and grill where it measures the internal pressure within the cylindrical container. From there, it sends the data to an accompanying mobile app, which provides grillers with a visualized fuel gauge on their phone in real-time.

In order to first bring the idea to life, the Maker duo connected a digital pressure sensor to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) which they set up to transmit readings to the custom app via Bluetooth. In their next iteration, they chose to use Wi-Fi using an Adafruit CC3000 to relay the readings instead. Still scratching their heads heading into a their third and most recent version, Vigilante and Glunz decided to try employing a custom circuit board with an ATmega328 and an ESP8266 module to take the gas tank system to the next level.


Currently a work in progress, the Makers hope their end product will also switch to sleep mode when the grill is not in use, include “leak detection capabilities,” and most importantly, conform to all regulatory standards. Who knows? Perhaps, we will see the device on Kickstarter one day…

“Our approach to measuring propane usage is completely different than other solutions because a remotely located central database will receive and analyze the sensor readings and output the fuel level to the user’s smart phone. We would utilize the proceeds of this challenge to aid in the development of the database, mobile app, and hardware,” its creators explain.

Interested? You can read all about the project on MAKE’s official write-up here, or watch its video demo below.

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