Public Lab Research note

Measuring particulate matter from an airplane

by bdebaque | January 10, 2016 14:58 10 Jan 14:58 | #12574 | #12574

What I want to do

We propose to build and adapt dustduino sensor for air flight collection of particulate matter. This project is a collaboration between Wings for science and EspaceLab (a fablab and a chapter of Public Lab located in Quebec city, Canada).

Wings for science: EspaceLab:

My attempt and results

We are still designing the concept, some electronic design is in progress as well as some packaging mock-up have been tested. The form factor is not a concern yet but the weight is a major one.

So far the basic capabilities will have: - a WiFi module for internet connection to a server and data collection - a waterproof box and with easy clips to change the batteries - an entrance system to prevent water from coming inside the box (an air pump with a U tube and a valve should do)

We will release several versions: - Version 1: will include the following sensors: O3, No2, So2, Temperature, Humidity, air pump, wifi, ground measurement only. - Version 2: version 1 plus a particulate counter based on dustduino - Version 3: version 2 plus a wing attachment system.

The next post, hopefully will have pictures and sketches, things are going fast.

Questions and next steps

We have many questions (a still other to come): - air flow going into the collection chamber might be too fast - the sensor housing must be small and make as little air turbulence as possible - what calibration should we apply (temp, pressure, humidity) to correct the measures - we might add as well a GPS to the system. - will temperature be an issue in battery efficiency ? - humidity will definitely be a concern, so a safe housing is a must, can we embed the sensor in a gopro housing ?

We have created a github repository for the code:

Why I'm interested

This project will collect a huge amount of data that will show us if air pollution is present at places where we don't suspect yet. It will also give a positive impact on air quality concerns.


the airflow issue may be solvable with a reciprocating pump. We've been playing with AC pumps, you probably would need a DC pump and some good power control to keep the flow consistent.

Here's our pump notes;

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Thanks for the idea, here is a book worth reading: Aerosol Measurement: Principles, Techniques, and Applications publié par Pramod Kulkarni,Paul A. Baron,Klaus Willeke.

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Hi @bdebaque sounds interesting! Do you know at what altitudes pm 2.5 measurements remain relevant for surface level exposure? If so I'd love to know. Or are you interested for general science reasons and not necessarily ground exposure reasons?

Looking forward to hearing more about this project as it advances.

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