The sys admin's daily grind: SparkFun

Trouble in the Air

Article from Issue 196/2017

Is your neighbor burning the wrong kind of wood or did a couple of VWs just pass by your house? Charly finds out with a sensor. For an attractive approach to visualizing boring measurement figures, you can either use your own web server or rely on a specialized service like SparkFun.

I ordered a particulate matter sensor from smog-experienced China (Figure 1), connected it to a Raspberry Pi, and can now see with up-to-the-minute accuracy when a neighbor has a fire in their wood-burning stove and even tell if the wood was properly dried. I use RRDtool to create illustrative graphs from the particulate matter readings that I get once every minute and upload them to my web server [1].

I could even do without the web server, because number of services handle storage and visualization of measurement data for you, if so desired. One of them, SparkFun, lets you store your data simply with an HTTP call.

First, you have to register your project: Just click Create when you reach the website [2]. In the form, enter a title, a short description, and, most importantly, the names of the data fields you want to fill. In my case, I named them PM10 and PM2.5 for the number of dust particles below 10 micrometers (µm) or below 2.5µm in diameter. PM stands for particulate matter. Finally, you need to enter a web alias under which you will then view the collection of values later on.


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