Sensor trip ideas

I’ve just put in a Seeed order for some more Grove sensors (because they’re very easy to set up and use). Here’s what I’m thinking of doing with them: Collect the usual environmental data – air quality, dust, temp/humid, water, alcohol – and compare against readings from the same sensor set that’s in the Brck office. Wildlife detection using motion sensor, mike, and camera unit. Investigate fire/smoke effects using smoke and gas sensors; I’m more interested in effects of different types of cooking fuels in houses, but could adapt this for camping too (a group I belonged to lost a member to fumes in their tent, so this is of value to me). Human monitoring using alcohol detector and galvanic skin response (e.g. sweat density) monitor. I’m also thinking about what sort of UAV or balloon data would be useful from a short trip. Even 10 minutes of data would be good – especially if it’s…


Starting with sensors

[cross-posted from] I’m at the iHub Nairobi today with a bunch of sensors (thanks for the loan, Brck team!), because some of the Kenyan ideas for today’s Space Apps Challenge projects are sensor-based.  Those projects didn’t happen, but I’ve been having some very interesting chats with people about the hardware we have here, about their own use of hardware, and about why coders aren’t including hardware in their projects. Aside from utility (not every project needs sensors, just as not every project needs a web interface), the two big blocks appear to be unfamiliarity and fear.  First, the fear: generally that using hardware will be hard to learn, or that you’ll break equipment irreparably.  And the familiarity: coders are used to software, and hardware can seem very different to software, at first. The fear: I suffered from these fears too, as I got back into hardware.  That combination of “oh grief I’m going to…


Sensor Shopping

[Cross-posted from] Here’s the list of items that should arrive at home soon: a basic sensor set to supplement the Geiger counter, spectroscopes, cameras, microcontrollers (Arduino and RaspberryPi), accelerometers, temperature, IR and range sensors in my toolkit. I’m most excited about the dust sensor because it’s it was a component in Matt Schroyer’s DustDuino sensor (as seen on that’s being trialled in the developing world by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network… will be interesting to see what I can get out of it.


Sensors in Weather Reporting

“We all know that the weather with which the barometer sympathises, is considered to consist of three independent variables – the velocity of the wind, its temperature, and its dampness. It is a question how far the direction of the wind need be reckoned as a fourth distinct influence” – Francis Galton (first weather reporter)  [Galton1870] A Little History Weather predictions date back millennia, to at least 4th Century BC Babylonians, and recorded weather measurement, on which forecasts are made, date back hundreds of years, to the Central England Temperature series, which was collected by amateurs and has continued to be recorded since 1659 [Saner 2007]. Figure 1 First Weather Report, 1875 Figure 2 1861 Weather Report with Symbols Weather reporting in the media dates back to 1875 with Francis Galton’s weather observation maps in The Times (above, with Galton’s 1861 map using symbols); radio broadcasts of weather information started in 1916 at the…


What is a Sensor?

“Sensor. Noun. A device that detects or measures a physical property and records, indicates, or otherwise responds to it.” – Google A sensor detects physical variations in the world, e.g. light, temperature, radiowaves, sound, magnetic fields, vibration, particles (e.g. pollution, radiation) or objects (e.g. water droplets). Humans contain Sensors Humans and other creatures contain sensors: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin.  Humans are very good general-purpose sensors: They detect noise over a wide set of frequencies, both with their ears and with the rest of their bodies (e.g. the deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie accurately tunes her drums by ‘hearing’ with different parts of her body) Their visual systems see the world in high resolution at roughly 60 images per second (which is why films, games and light fittings are updated at the rates that they are), in stereo that gives decent depth and motion detection (although optical illusions mess with these beautifully) And similarly for smells, tastes and skin. These sensors are sometimes used in sensor…