What I’ve been working on

It’s been a slow new week, but your correspondent read years ago that if you don’t like the news, you should make some of your own.

Accordingly, I haven’t been (entirely) idle. I’ve been working on a low-cost particulate-matter sensor that we could deploy around Weston and Mount Dennis. And I’m delighted to report that I’ve got it working!

I’ve built the pollution monitor with an ultra-cheap computer called the Raspberry Pi, to which I’ve added a $25 sensor, some junk from around the house, and some Tupperware. The total cost was about $120 (don’t tell my wife)—but I think I can get that down a bit by using an even cheaper computer.

Here are the totally unscientific results for the past 48 hours, from Wednesday at 5 pm to today at 5 pm.

What do they mean? Your guess is as good as mine! (And please, feel free to tell me: adam at WestonWeb.ca.)

The red line is µg of 2.5 micron particulate per m³; the blue line is for 10 micron particulate. These results are likely not very accurate, but they’re a start—and honestly, for $120, I think it’s brilliant that I can measure anything at all!

The next step is to apply for a grant from my employer, to see if we can build some of these for the community. I’m cautiously optimistic. With a network of them, I hope to be able to create a widget to run on WestonWeb that would report the noise and air pollution in our community.  If you’re interested in taking part, let me know.

The best part, as far as ‘my son’ is concerned, is that the computer can be repurposed. That’s this weekend’s work: building an arcade system!



Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

3 thoughts on “What I’ve been working on”

  1. If all you are using the raspberry pi for is collecting data my son says the particle photon is a better and cheaper option. $20.

  2. I understand particulate, but what? And noise? And particle photo?
    Dazzled but bewildered …

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