Ever wanted an indoor environment sensor that’s dead simple yet a complete package? That’s the anotter-sensor-hub project from [Jana Marie], designed for the Sensirion SEN05x series sensors, with a SEN055 sensor shown in the picture above. Given such a sensor, you can measure VOCs and NOCs (Volatile and Non-Volatile Organic Compounds), as well as PM1, PM2.5, PM4 and PM10 particulate matter indices, with temperature and humidity sensing thrown in for good measure. Fully open and coupled with 3D printable stand files, this alone makes for an air quality hub fit for a hacker’s desk. That’s not all, however — this board’s elegant extensibility is a good match for the sensor’s impressive capabilities!
The PCB itself might look simple, it’s simply an ESP32 and some supporting circuitry required. But you’ll notice there’s also a trove of connector footprints for different interfaces; whatever else you might want to add to your sensor hub, whether it connects through I2C, SPI or PWM, you can! As usual, the sensor itself is the most expensive part of such a project — the boards themselves are around $5 USD apiece fully assembled, but one sensor-included hub will set you back roughly $42 USD. That said, it’s a great value for the price, and the trove of sensing data you can get might just more than pay for itself in quality-of-life improvements you make. Of course, everything is open-source and comes as a complete packages for you to start using. The firmware, KiCad files, 3D holder and even Grafana dashboard files can be found on GitHub.
Such air quality sensor platforms have been getting more and more popular, and hackers have been paying attention. Having a full open-source package like this at our disposal is amazing. If you’re looking for a cheaper “baby’s first air quality sensor”, drop by your local IKEA — there’s a way less featureful but quite cheap sensor that you can equip with an ESP8266, perhaps, even on a custom PCB.
While some of us would have been tempted to gut the VINDRIKTNING and attach its particle sensor directly to the ESP8266, the approach [Sören] has used is actually quite elegant. Rather than replacing IKEA’s electronics, the microcontroller is simply listening in on the UART communications between the sensor and the original controller. This not only preserves the stock functionality of the VINDRIKTNING, but simplifies the code as the ESP doesn’t need to do nearly as much.
All you need to do if you want to perform this modification is solder a couple wires to convenient test pads on the VINDRIKTNING board, then flash the firmware (or write your own version), and you’re good to go. There’s plenty of room inside the case for the ESP8266, though you may want to tape it down so it doesn’t impact air flow.
While not required, [Sören] also recommends making a small modification to the VINDRIKTNING which makes it a bit quieter. Apparently the 5 V fan inside the sensor is occasionally revved up by the original controller, rather than kept at a continuous level that you can mentally tune out. But by attaching the sensor’s fan to the ESP8266’s 3.3 V pin, it will run continuously at a lower speed.
We’ve seen custom firmware for IKEA products before, but this approach, which keeps the device’s functionality intact regardless of what’s been flashed to the secondary microcontroller, is particularly appealing for those of us who can’t seem to keep the gremlins out of our code.
Canari is of course named after the brave birds that once alerted miners to dangerous air conditions before they were forced to switch to carbon monoxide sensors. This bird has a Raspberry Pi Zero W that gets air quality data from a public API and controls the lights with a PWM bonnet based on the concentration of particulates in the air. The more particulates, the dimmer the LEDs are, and the faster they fade in and out.
The main piece of data that Canari grabs is the amount of particulate matter, and the display can switch between representing the level of PM2.5 (particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers) in the air and PM10. Check out the demo and setup video after the break.
The tool [rabbitcreek] built is in a similar form factor to a typical infrared workshop thermometer. Inside, it packs a Honeywell HPMA115S0-TIR laser particle sensor, hooked up to an ESP32 which runs the show. The sensor chosen makes things easy, with the device already set up with a blower and inlet and outlet ports for taking accurate readings.. Results are displayed on an SSD1306 OLED screen. It’s all wrapped up in a 3D printed case with a trigger grip, and a dog nose on the front which hints at the devices true purpose.
In testing, the device proves capable of detecting point sources of atmospheric particulates like flowers and a toaster. It’s something we’re sure would prove handy to those working in HVAC and environmental assessment industries. We’ve seen other rigs for monitoring particulates before, too. Video after the break.
Air quality is one of those problems that is rather invisible and hard to grasp until it gets bad enough to be undeniable. By then, it may be too late to do much about it. But if more people were interested in the problem enough to monitor the air around them, there would be more innovators bringing more ideas to the table. And more attention to a problem usually means more accountability and eventual action.
This solar-powered particulate analyzer made by [rabbitcreek] is a friendly way to take the problem out of the stratosphere of ‘someday’ and bring it down to the average person’s backyard. Its modular nature makes it fairly simple to build, and the conch shell enclosure gives it a natural look. That shell also cleverly hides the electronics, while at the same time allowing air and particulates to reach the sensor. If you don’t like the shell enclosure, we think the right type of bird feeder could protect the electronics while allowing airflow.
[rabbitcreek] attached a sizeable solar panel to the shell on a GoPro mount so it can be adjusted to face the sun. The panel charges a Li-Po battery that gets boosted to 5V. Every two hours, a low-power breakout circuit wakes up the Feather ESP32 and takes a reading from the particulate sensor. [rabbitcreek] can easily see the data on his phone thanks to the Blynk app he created.
Laser particle detectors are a high-tech way for quantifying whats floating around in the air. With a fan, a laser, and a sensitive photodetector, they can measure smoke and other particulates in real-time. Surprisingly, they are also fairly cheap, going for less than $20 USD on some import sites. They just need a bit of encouragement to do our bidding.
The ZH03B has PWM and UART output modes, but [Dave] focused his attention on UART. With the addition of a CP2102 USB-UART adapter, he was able to connect it to his Pi and Mac, but still needed to figure out what it was saying. He eventually came up with some Python code that lets you use the sensor both as part of a larger network or service like Mycodo and as a stand-alone device.
His basic Python script (currently only tested on Linux and OS X), loops continuously and gives a running output of the PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 measurements. These correspond to particles with a diameter of 1, 2.5, and 10 micrometers respectively. If you want to plug the sensor into another service, the Python library is a bit more mature and lets you do things like turn off the ZH03B’s fan to save power.
As if slinging around 40 watts of potentially tattoo-removing or retina-singeing laser beams wasn’t anxiety-inducing enough, now comes a new, scary acronym – LCAGs, or “laser-generated airborne contaminants.” With something that scary floating around your shop, it might be a good idea to build a souped-up laser cutter exhaust fan to save your lungs.
We jest, but taking care of yourself is the responsible way to have a long and fruitful hacking career, and while [patternmusic]’s “Fume Coffin” might seem like overkill, can you go too far to protect your lungs? Plywood and acrylic, the most common materials that come across a laser cutter’s bed, both release quite a witch’s brew of toxins when vaporized by a laser beam. The Fume Coffin clears the air in your shop by venting it to the outdoors after giving it a good scrubbing through an activated charcoal pre-filter and a HEPA polishing element. Both filters are commercially available so replacements won’t be an issue, and the entire thing is housed in a wooden box that gives the device its name.
Since it’s ejecting 200 cubic feet per minute, you’ll have to provide at least that much make-up air, but other than that the Fume Coffin should be a welcome addition to the shop. We’ve seen a few other attempts to handle LCAGs effectively before, including a DIY charcoal and automotive air filter design.