Building my own air quality sensor

At the weekend I attended a workshop where I built my own air quality sensor.

The session was run by TOG Hackerspace, which is a shared space where people go to create and build things. Their members use the space to do all kinds of things such as: coding, electronics, wood work, metal work, crafts and knitting, and 3D printing.

The session to build the air quality sensor was based upon the instructions provided by luftdaten.info, a project that started in Stuttgart, Gemany to monitor the air quality to the city – and which has subsequently spread to other countries.

The instructions use cheap off-the-shelf electronic components to let people build their own wifi-connected sensor that is capable of constantly monitoring particulates in the air (PM2.5 and PM10), temperate, air pressure and humidity – and then share all that information with everyone else to build up coverage of air quality monitoring throughout the city.

The information is plotted on a map, and you can click on individual sensors to see its current readings and history.

Map showing air quality sensors in Dublin – from https://maps.sensor.community/

Mounting the sensor

The sensor is enclosed in a standard electrical box, and it is powered by a standard 5-volt USB cable.

My current challenge is to work out a way of getting the USB power outside of my house without making destructive changes such as drilling holes. I’m currently looking either running a cable out of the window somehow, or perhaps even using a solar panel.

Until that’s sorted out I have a USB power bank in my shed providing power to the sensor, and for the last couple of days it’s been monitoring the air quality outside my house.