We as a species are probably a little bit smarter than fish: at least we know
that we spend our lives “swimming” at the bottom of an ocean of air. About
4/5th of that ocean is the relatively harmless gas nitrogen. Around another
1/5 of it is the highly reactive and slightly toxic gas oxygen. The Earth’s atmosphere
also contains trace amounts of other harmless or slightly toxic
gases like argon, carbon dioxide, and methane. And depending on where you
live, it may contain even smaller, but much more toxic, amounts of pollutants
like soot, carbon monoxide, and ozone.
Yet how many of us, like the fish in the koan, overlook the atmosphere? Who
in your life can tell you the general composition of the air around them? How
many people know what’s inside every breath they take? Do you? Reading
this book and building these gadgets will take you on the first steps of a journey
toward understanding our ocean of air.
Makers around the globe are building low-cost devices to monitor the environment, and with this hands-on guide, so can you. Through succinct tutorials, illustrations, and clear step-by-step instructions, you’ll learn how to create gadgets for examining the quality of our atmosphere, using Arduino and several inexpensive sensors.
Detect harmful gases, dust particles such as smoke and smog, and upper atmospheric haze—substances and conditions that are often invisible to your senses. You’ll also discover how to use the scientific method to help you learn even more from your atmospheric tests.
Get up to speed on Arduino with a quick electronics primer
Build a tropospheric gas sensor to detect carbon monoxide, LPG, butane, methane, benzene, and many other gases
Create an LED Photometer to measure how much of the sun’s blue, green, and red light waves are penetrating the atmosphere
Build an LED sensitivity detector—and discover which light wavelengths each LED in your Photometer is receptive to
Learn how measuring light wavelengths lets you determine the amount of water vapor, ozone, and other substances in the atmosphere
Upload your data to Cosm and share it with others via the Internet
"The future will rely on citizen scientists collecting and analyzing their own data. The easy and fun gadgets in this book show everyone from Arduino beginners to experienced Makers how best to do that."
--Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief of Wired magazine, author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (Crown Business)