Solar Powered Air Quality Monitoring
This project spawned out of research focusing on cellular networks and the ability to send data over the network. Using an air quality sensor which measures PM2.5, we combined the data output with the capabilities of the Arduino GSM shield to take the air quality measurements and send the results to the web.
Collaborating with Voltaic Solar Systems, we decided to power the Arduino GSM Shield and air quality sensor with a solar panel. This project had several challenges but the greatest challenge was getting the power usage of the Arduino module down to a level which would be sustainable using a solar panel. In order to do this, we had to power down the GSM module between data transmission.
We hope to continue the project and further explore possibilities of reducing power consumption from the GSM module. If we are able to do this, we can then begin to expand the project and incorporate a variety of sensors which could easily replace the air quality sensors. We would also like to compare the air quality sensor - which costs around $20 - to the professional sensors which are much more expensive and used throughout New York City.
Furthermore, we created multiple tutorials to follow our process step-by-step. All of the code is available on github with step-by-step installation instructions here. Check out the Voltaic blog to see more about building a housing unit, testing the air quality monitor and more specifics about using solar panels to power the prototype. View the Voltaic posts on their blog.