Image via Instructables user Staceyk
The idea of showing air quality by emitting glowing colors is fairly old. In fact, in 2007, Pairs launched hot air balloons above the city that would show citizens the level of cleanliness of the air they were breathing in. Even air filters have started to sport glowing colors to indicate the level of pollutants in the air. But having such a cool air quality monitor can be as simple as a weekend DIY project.Eric Paulos, an instructor at Carnegie Mellon University's Living Environments Lab, and his students Stacey Kuznetsov, George Davis, and Jian Cheung have put out step-by-step instructions on how to craft balloons that change color based on the local air quality.
Using weather balloons with tri-color LEDs, tiny air quality sesnsors, rechargeable batteries, and a few other inexpensive materials that can all be found at craft stores or online, you can make your own giant glowing balloons for your yard that show you when it's safe to step outside without your oxygen tank.
The supplies are pretty simple (if you're a handy person) and in addition to the above, include a PICAXE micro-crontroller and starter kit and basic tools like a soldering iron, electric tape and pliers. The whole thing should cost under $40.
The creators note, "The project could be improved by adding a transistor to make the balloon illumination brighter, and by more carefully calibrating the air quality sensors to temperature and humidity." Still, it seems like a very fun and interesting project that could be a big boost to your awareness about air conditions in your neighborhood.
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