Question: What happens to the simple air sensor when the battery pack runs low?

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stevie asked on May 20, 2019 18:10
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Interested in thinking about things that can happen in demoing/using a simple air sensor.



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I recently heard from a community member that "we had another embarrassing moment when the “power bar” battery apparently didn’t have enough energy, as no change from green was seen even with high particulate levels :("

Anyone else experience this or have thoughts as to why this happened?

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@OrionAllgaier were you there for this? can you shed some more light on what happened?

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Hi Stevie, I was was there for that. To the best of my memory the simple air sensor turned on and displayed white light compared to the normal green, yellow, and/or red. Once the battery pack was plugged in and charged the sensor functioned properly again.


Wow, I wouldn't have guessed that it'd show green with low power (i.e. no reading from the sensor, i'd imagine), so hearing that it turned white instead is really helpful. I wonder if we should generally say "if you see it turn white, that's an error"?

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I haven't seen this happen in part because it runs a /long/ time on a battery, but I have seen it when running on a solar panel without enough sunlight. It would fail and reboot every second or so, so the light would blink. 

Recently we changed the firmware so that it waits 2-3 seconds to start up. The idea was that it'd try to run for 2-3 seconds, before turning the light on, so that it could "test" whether there's enough power. And if there was, it'd start showing a light. Otherwise, it'd just stay dark (although you may see some of the really tiny lights blinking as it boots up). 

That way, if power is too low, it wouldn't annoyingly blink a lot, but rather would reboot over and over but never get to the point where the light goes on. We're still testing how well this works. 

On Mon, May 20, 2019 at 2:10 PM \<notifications@publiclab.org> wrote:

Public Lab contributor stevie just posted a new research note entitled ' What happens to the simple air sensor when the battery pack runs low?':

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Interested in thinking about things that can happen in demoing/using a simple air sensor.


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Thanks @Warren (and @Stevie) for this info. Recently I fully charged the battery bar but after plugging in the "traffic light" sensor, the display stayed white even with high generated PM2.5 levels.

Your ability to create a light and small Plantronics sensor-battery combination is nonetheless very interesting: if the sensor could also write data to an SD card (as it does in PurpleAir SD models), I would like to know how much this all weighs and contact my two drone pilot colleagues. If feasible, I think it would be fascinating to measure PM levels at different altitudes and positions relative to a frac sand mine.


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