Public Lab Wiki documentation

Simple Air Sensor

156 views | Last edited by liz about 1 month ago | #18517

This barebones onboarding kit can help you explore how the particulate sensor used in the closed source #PurpleAir responds to air conditions by displaying a colored light readout. NOTE: The colored light is not related to the Air Quality Index (AQI) colors in any way.

For context, this onboarding kit is part of an effort to develop an open source project (and community) that functions similarly to #PurpleAir so that, over time, people can transfer the expertise they've developed as #PurpleAir users regarding installation, organizing, communication, etc. Conceptually, it's an offramp from a corporately controlled, closed source project that lacks public forums for asking and answering questions, or for organizing around data.

This sensor circuit uses the same type of particle detector as the #PurpleAir sensor, but only one as compared to #PurpleAir's two; does not include a temperature, humidity and pressure sensor as the Purple Air does; and instead of logging either to the cloud or to the device itself, it displays a red/yellow/green light that illustrates the PM2.5 levels it detects without converting into an Air Quality Index (AQI).

Quite a few people have built simple open source, Arduino-based devices around the cheap #plantower particulate air sensor datasheet, see:

This is a version that is easy to assemble (no soldering, just push wires into a breadboard), and comes pre-programmed. We also offer it assembled and ready to plug in in the Public Lab Store.

Parts List

  1. 1 Arduino
  2. 1 RBG LED Light
  3. 1 Sensor with cable
  4. 1 Breadboard


  • build familiarity with the electronic components used in air sensors without having to program
  • to see immediate qualitative differences in air quality at low cost
  • to use in groups (with 3+ sensors) to plan out placement of a #purple-air or other more expensive sensor, for example with consideration for wind direction


Title Author Updated Likes
What happens to the simple air sensor when the battery pack runs low? @stevie about 17 hours ago
Can someone clarify the colors on the simple air sensor? (turning white when plugged in) @stevie 22 days ago
Brainstorm on ways to use colored light to show sensor readings @warren about 1 month ago
What are the advantages to using 2 particle sensors at the same time? @warren about 1 month ago
What are some activities for using the Simple Air Sensor as part of a broader air quality project? @warren about 1 month ago
Is there a predictive relationship between the number of PM 2.5 and smaller airborne particulates compared to the mass of the same ug per cubic meter? @Tomp about 1 month ago
Can we log data on an Arduino without an SD card? @warren about 2 months ago
Questions about Plantower sensors from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire @OrionAllgaier 2 months ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions on this topic



Exploring with the Simple Air Sensor

by stevie about 15 hours ago | 4 | 43 views | 2


Assembling the Simple Air Sensor

by warren 2 months ago | 3 | 156 views | 3


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