Weathering the Storm

I’m building a thing. Yeah, I know, this isn’t surprising for someone like me.

The ongoing thing with the fires in NSW has gotten me interested in air quality monitoring, as it turns out that breathing can be a little difficult when it’s so damn smoky outside. I’ve obtained a decent quality face mask to help with that, but now I’m all curious about just what it is in our air that makes it like breathing razor blades.

I’ve decided to build an air quality monitoring station. I know this is not ever going to have an enormous level of accuracy, given that I’m just using cheap hobbyist-level sensors, but as an indication of what things are like it’s going to be fantastic.

So now the technical bits. I’m still waiting for parts to arrive, but this is what I’m putting together:

This is cheating a little, as most of the sensors I’m after are already collected into a pHAT already so it’s mostly a matter of software once I’ve worked out the best way to put it in an appropriate case and get power to it. But it’s entirely possible that most of the utility for this is in the software anyway.

Speaking of software, I plan to do two things with it. One is a dashboard to let me keep an eye on my sensors directly. This shouldn’t be too complex - aiming for maybe a current value for each of the sensors as well as some simple statistical magic and a bit of a graph. Maybe also alerts for when conditions are bad. The second thing is to publish the data in a way that it’s useful for others.

I’ve discovered, which maintains a network of interested people making their air-quality sensor data available for a mapping project. There’s already a bit of coverage in Sydney (although not in the CBD) but nothing near my home. I’m getting a lot of use out of these maps, and of course I want to help out.

I’m planning to put a bunch more info online as I build this, so… stay tuned, I guess?