Monitoring office air quality using a DIY air quality sensor

My colleague Andreas Brain recently approached me with an interesting project he heard of: monitoring the air quality using a DIY air quality sensor described at luftdaten.info. I could not resist and had to order all components. The arrived yesterday (fresh from China, thx aliexpress) and a few hours later (around 18 to be exact) we have 2 new air quality sensors online. One is at home, outside, and the other one is currently at our office, inside, on the 4th floor. It does not look very exciting, but works perfectly. Thx go out to the team of OKLab Stuttgart!

Our air quality sensor currently sends the data to opensensemap – here’s the link to our sensor at the office. Below is also a screenshot that I just took (hey, proof that it worked!).

To build one took me around 30 minutes. I spent a little longer for the first one yesterday and because I did not use the exact hardware mentioned, I needed some minutes to figure out which pins exactly need to be connected to my ESP8266 boards that I had at hand. All in all, a fun and worthwhile experience. The software running on the ESP8266 is virtually pain-free to use and connected to our WIFI networks without any troubles. Below are some more pictures that show the making process:

To make sense of the data you need to know about PM2.5 and PM10. These are names for particles suspended in the air. PM10 are larger particles, less harmful for the human body. PM2.5, you get it, are the smaller ones which are more harmful. Different countries have different max values defined. For example, China defined a daily average of 150µg/m3 for PM10 while the EU defined 50 µg/m3.  All info about particulates and your local regulations can be found at wikipedia – have a look!

Why is this cool for hybrislabs?
First of all, it’s a fun IoT project and you should have fun & learn at work! But then it’s really a great open data project which collects quite a bit of really meaningful data. The APIs built around luftdaten.info and their backing services are interesting and we’re thinking about how we might be able to use that openly available data. The website luftdaten.info also nicely shows the power of democratized access to new tech.

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