Peeking Inside A Volcano Sensor

On a recent walk through the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, [Andrew Cooper] stumbled upon an unlocked monitoring station. Being an engineer, he couldn’t resist taking a look. This station is one of a network of sulfur dioxide (SO2) monitoring stations installed around the park to keep an eye on volcanic emissions. Unsurprisingly, sulfur dioxide is unhealthy to breathe. Sensors like these keep people informed about local conditions before taking their strolls among the volcanic foothills, enjoying gorgeous vistas as [Andrew] describes it.

[Andrew] wasn’t particularly surprised at the contents of the station, since he builds similar equipment in his day job. Continuous power is provided by lead acid batteries kept charged by an array of three mis-matched solar panels. There are duplicate SO2 monitors, an air particulate meter, and a standard weather station affixed to the top. Data is logged on-site and reported up the chain by a cell-phone modem. [Andrew] wasn’t impressed with the workmanship, noting:

ItĀ appeared as if the circuits were wired by a ham-handed grad student with no sense of pride in their work.

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