(Mini) Earthquake in your living room

Today we stumbled upon [jimthree's] Seismic Reflector while looking at projects that employ the Processing language we mentioned a few days ago. Utilizing a Boarduino and some vibration motors from a game controller, the Seismic Reflector does just as its name implies – rattles itself around whenever there is an earthquake. While this does seem a bit silly at first, we were fascinated to learn there have been 165 earthquakes just in the past week and almost no news reports, suddenly this device got a lot more interesting!


  1. anon says:

    OMG 165 quakes its 2012

  2. monkeyslayer56 says:

    how does he know that ther were realy 165? it could have been someone walking around in the house or a big truck going by…

  3. ham sandwich says:

    I agree with monkey how accurate is this? My office shakes 30+ times a day ranging from trucks to trains.

    I will leave that to the pros http://earthquake.usgs.gov
    which I suppose you could compare your results to…..

  4. ham sandwich says:

    2012? haha our calender ends every 365 days….so look out for 2010!

  5. Bernkastel says:

    Not all earthquakes are big

  6. MeMyself says:

    The author is pulling data from the USGS Earthquake RSS feed, not detecting quakes. The “reflector” is presenting the alerts in a physical form instead of just playing a sound or popping up a window.

  7. David S says:

    The majority of earthquakes are extremely small such that they are imperceptible by people.

  8. lwr20 says:

    For those who clearly can’t be bothered to RTFA, this project is:
    a program running on a PC which parses an RSS feed from the US gov earthquake research guys.
    If it sees a big enough earthquake, it sends a command to the boarduino which pulses the motors on and off to reflect the magnitude of the earthquke.

    This project does not measure earthquakes itself. So trucks and trains going by is irrelevant.

    It is merely intended to make the user feel more connected to the events by providing near real-time feedback of earthquakes.

  9. rd says:

    Apparently people don’t actually read the article before posting.
    It checks an RSS feed.

  10. JackVandaL says:

    Apparently people don’t actually read other comments before posting their own. :) RSS feed got it.

  11. MS3FGX says:

    Seems like the motors could have just as easily been directly connected to the serial port (or USB to serial adapter), and controlled via software. Or if he was going to use the Arduino/Boarduino, at least put an Ethernet shield on it so it can download the feed itself. Seems redundant as it is.

    Also, since he states his initial goal was to raise personal awareness of earthquakes and the human lives affected, it seems like there should be some magnitude filtering. Logically it should only be going off when there is an earthquake large enough to do damage, or else it is no more personal or significant than a vibrating email notifier.

  12. brokend says:

    I see a VGN-SZ6 series. Good good. This project is quite worth scaling up.

  13. Snarf says:

    I first learned about the prevalence of earthquakes worldwide when I installed xPlanet, configured it to set my desktop background and set earthquake markers to update regularly. Holy cow there were lots of earthquakes!

  14. will d. says:

    shakes when there’s earthquakes? can it sense and cancel out small earthquakes then?

  15. Smartlinc says:

    Couple this with some insteon to flicker the lights and a subwoofer for some 30 hz base and it might enhance the “OMFG there’s an earthquake!” experience. Of course, 165 in a week and it might get tiring… ;)

  16. p2man says:

    Reason why we don’t feel the vibrations is because it’s infrasound, below our hearing threshold. There are always seismic disturbances going on

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