Environmental Monitoring with Arduino
Building Simple Devices to Collect Data About the World Around Us
Publisher: Maker Media, Inc
Released: January 2012
Pages: 100

After the devastating tsunami in 2011, DYIers in Japan built their own devices to detect radiation levels, then posted their finding on the Internet. Right now, thousands of people worldwide are tracking environmental conditions with monitoring devices they’ve built themselves. You can do it too!

This inspiring guide shows you how to use Arduino to create gadgets for measuring noise, weather, electromagnetic interference (EMI), water purity, and more. You’ll also learn how to collect and share your own data, and you can experiment by creating your own variations of the gadgets covered in the book. If you’re new to DIY electronics, the first chapter offers a primer on electronic circuits and Arduino programming.

  • Use a special microphone and amplifier to build a reliable noise monitor
  • Create a gadget to detect energy vampires: devices that use electricity when they’re “off”
  • Examine water purity with a water conductivity device
  • Measure weather basics such as temperature, humidity, and dew point
  • Build your own Geiger counter to gauge background radiation
  • Extend Arduino with an Ethernet shield—and put your data on the Internet
  • Share your weather and radiation data online through Pachube
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oreillyEnvironmental Monitoring with Arduino
 
4.3

(based on 3 reviews)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Concise (3)
  • Easy to understand (3)
  • Helpful examples (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (3)
    • Novice (3)
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      • Developer (3)

    Reviewed by 3 customers

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    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Good book for learning to use sensors

    By healthyfatboy

    from Nashua, NH

    About Me Developer, Engineer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Concise
    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Intermediate
      • Novice
      • Student

      Comments about oreilly Environmental Monitoring with Arduino:

      Environmental Monitoring with Arduino by Emily Gertz and Patrick Di Justo is a nice primer to beginners interested in learning how to sense the environment. I've become a little more familiar with Arduino so I didn't really need this book but I got it more to see how it handled really beginner type information. For the most part, I think they did a pretty good job.

      It starts off by going through some really basic information that is fundamental to programming and engineering in general. Sometimes we engineers take that for granted and assume everyone will take those same steps. That's a nice little prelude to the rest of the book.

      The first chapter is titled "The World's Shortest Electronics Primer" and that pretty much sums it up and unfortunately, this is where there is the only real glaring mistake that I found in the entire book. The first example they step a reader through is blinking an LED, which is really the first thing anyone does with an Arduino. Without actually connecting up any hardware, it would be easy to run this sketch but instead, the authors try to help out the reader by explaining how to create their first circuit. I'm sure their intentions were good but they connected an LED from an output to ground without the use of a resistor.

      No, it won't burn up the Arduino and no it shouldn't burn up the LED in an instant but that's poor practice and might be construed as another way to connect an LED to a circuit. Later in the book the proper way to connect an LED is shown but with two conflicting examples, a novice would take the easier route by not using a resistor because "it worked for the first example so why not do it again?" It's bad practice and design.

      Aside from that issue, the rest of the book did an admirable job of teaching a novice how to connect up simple circuits and program the Arduino to make it do something with the circuit. Occasionally, there were a few somewhat related but not really relavent tangents that I thought could have been omitted from the book (e.g., save the whales from noise pollution) but that's more my opinion that it didn't belong more than anything else. Others may appreciate those tidbits.

      The "Things to Try" at the end of each chapter were nice exercises for the reader to try but there were a few that would really be difficult to do even for a more advanced programmer and designer (e.g., waterproofing a sound sensing circuit for underwater use). As nice as the idea sounds, actually executing the idea will be quite the difficult task, especially for a novice.

      One nice potential addition to the book would have been a full parts list up from or as an appendix that outlined all the parts used in the book and where to get each part. They do list out each part in the respective chapters but a consolidated list would be nice.

      Overall, I thought the book did a good job of outlining the basics of sensing the environment. It should be a good book worth looking at for anyone interested in sensors but only as a basic primer to sensing as there are a lot of other things to consider when setting up a sensing circuit.

      Disclaimer: This book was received as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. All comments represent my thoughts and opinions.

       
      4.0

      Concise and Straightforward

      By Tom

      from Racine, Wisconsin

      About Me Developer, Maker, Sys Admin

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate
        • Novice

        Comments about oreilly Environmental Monitoring with Arduino:

        Emily Gertz and Patrick Di Justo have put together a simple and concise guide to utilizing the Arduino family of products to do practical monitoring of environmental conditions. This helps take the Arduino product for many of us from a hobbyist toy to a practical and functional part of a geek's toolset.

        Emily and Patrick start off the journey by assuming that the reader has purchased the Arduino and now want to do more with it. There is a basic introduction to the capabilities of the tool, utilizing simple blinking LEDs to show how to interface and program the Arduino. This helps a novice user become less afraid of the device and at the same time allows a more experienced programmer to get a feeling for how the hardware device functions.

        Then the fun begins. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific project, whether it be creating a meter utilizing a series of LED lights to signify an event to more complex projects that measure EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) to measuring water conductivity and weather related conditions (temperature and dew point). In each case, no assumptions are made by the author and each step is outlined and explained in enough detail that the user understands what is going on.

        I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Arduino tool and interfacing it with real-world applications. The book is a quick read, the projects are simple enough to do and the possibilities that it introduces to the reader is limitless.

        (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Sophisticated newbie projects

        By Mark Colan

        from Metro Boston, MA

        About Me Designer, Developer, Educator, Maker

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Concise
        • Easy to understand
        • Helpful examples
        • Well-written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Intermediate
          • Novice
          • Student

          Comments about oreilly Environmental Monitoring with Arduino:

          This is a sophisticated and intelligent book describing interesting projects in a way that even newcomers to Arduino, electronics, and programming should be able to create and get running without problems.

          PROS
          No need to have a lot of skill with electronics - the book uses prebuilt modules
          No need to know programming - the book provides working code
          Up to date - written to use the recent Arduino 1.0 update

          CONS
          None that I have found

          "Environmental Monitoring with Arduino" explains how to use the Arduino to detect or monitor various physical conditions in the environment around you. It is an inexpensive, short, focused, project-oriented book that has a variety of interesting projects, some of which you may find useful as a permanent device. Unlike a certain project-oriented book I reviewed recently, there is no fluff.

          Some aspects are explained in a modular approach, allowing you to use ideas from the book for other projects you think of, but obviously it does not have as many "recipes" as a book like Arduino Cookbook, Second Edition.

          I think this book is reasonably well suited to someone with little or now experience with Arduino, programming, or electronics. It builds up the reader's understanding of various components, starting very simply and moving to an implementation of radition monitoring and sharing data on the Internet (all with Arduino) that was inspired by the work of individuals in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and resulting nuclear power plant problems.

          CONTENTS
          1. The World's Shortest Electronics Primer
          2. Project: Noise Monitor / LED Bar Output
          3. New Component: 4Char Display
          4. Detecting Electromagnetic Interference (and making bad music)
          5. Project: Water Conductivity / Numerical Output
          6. New Component: Ethernet Shield
          7. Project: Humidity, Temperature, and Dew Point / 4Char
          8. Real-Time, Geo-Tagged Data Sharing with Pachube
          9. Project: Radiation Counter / Sharing Data on the Internet
          10. Casing the Gadget

          The book starts with a really short primer on electronics. You don't need much - most of the work will be done using inexpensive pre-built modules, and what you will be doing is mainly plugging a couple of components together, and the book tells you exactly how to do this. The down side is that for people who might prefer to make some pieces from scratch - say, the 4-digit display made of 7-segment LED displays used in Chapter 3. But this isn't a problem either: in most cases, the maker of the assembled device offers a schematic online if you want to build it yourself.

          It does NOT have a similar primer on programming, however all source code is provided to make the projects work. To modify from the original design, you may need to learn some programming, but there are plenty of other books and Web pages out there to help.

          Each of the other chapters has a similar design. It describes the purpose of the project and a little about the physics that are involved in detecting or measuring environmental conditions. It includes a description and explanation of the components of the project and how they work at a high level. It tells you what parts you need, explains new ones, and provides a wiring diagram usually involving an Arduino, a breadboard, and the various other parts. It shows you the code (but does not explain it). It tells you what you should see when you run it.

          You will also find interesting and relevant sidebar discussions, variations in the design, things to try, and helpful notes and warnings.

          Reasons to get the electronic version instead of the paper book

          1. It's less expensive
          2. Instant gratification - get it and read it NOW
          3. You can easily carry it anywhere and read it on any device that supports PDF (this is assuming you buy the PDF from O'Reilly's site)
          4. You can zoom in on tiny details such as the drawings, which can be difficult to view in the book
          5. References in the text to a figure have a hyperlink that brings you to the figure.
          6. When you find an interesting reference to a Web resource, just click it and you're there
          7. You can copy/paste code from the text into your IDE and run it - or you can download from the indicated link by clicking it
          8. Use Acrobat Reader's View>Read Out Loud feature to have the text read to you aloud

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