What is this?
Ever heard of Citizen Science? Well, this might be going in this direction! I develop small pieces of electronic to help you sense the concentration of potentially poisonous gases and particles. It’s affordable, it’s easy to use and it’s accurate (and it’s not done yet). Currently I work on a sensor board that you can plug on top of your raspberry pi zero. It will be astonishing small, and astonishing functional.
When I was moving from a small university town back to the city, I instantly had problems breathing. To get to know more about the concentration of different gases in our air I combined my natural interest for tech with my affection for science and developed a board, that you can simply solder on top of a RaspberryPi Zero.
The beginning and the AirPi v2.0
Before I decided to develop my own Raspberry Pi Zero HAT, I read a lot about existing solutions for monitoring air quality. Of course, I first landed on the ambitious project AirPi, which was a Raspberry Pi HAT to sense certain gases, general air quality, but also noise levels and light intensity.
Unfortunately, the AirPi is out of business for years now and the project does not seem to have a direct successor. Thanks to Tom Hartley, one of the initiators of AirPi, I found EagleCAD files for an earlier AirPi version on their website and started to update their system with new components and a leaner design.
And you would not believe, a first prototype, the AirPi 2.0, was actually manufactured and landed in my postbox early this spring.
First flights of the bee
However, when the AirPi 2.0 sensor board arrived at my place, I already had so many ideas about what to change, that I did not even bother to test it. Instead of the PMS5003 I now rely on the SDS011 for measuring dust particles. Also, I updated the version of the MiCS gas sensor and threw out the light resistor.
With the aim to create an even smaller (Raspberry Pi Zero) HAT, I mostly used SMT parts, which take far less space. The result is the Prototype Bee HAT, named after the greek god of the winds, Aiolos. This board now is meant for indoor as well as outdoor use.
A look ahead
For the future, I plan to split the board up into two versions, one outdoor version, which includes also light intensity and noise level measurements and one indoor version. For the outdoor version I plan to include a solar panel, a rechargeable battery and mobile internet to the design. This way you will be able to install it in remote areas for delivering reference readings.