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Atmospheric Monitoring With Arduino: Building Simple Devices to Collect Data About the Environment

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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)

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