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DIY Air Quality Balloons 44

Posted by timothy
from the excellent-for-weddings dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A few students at Carnegie Mellon University outfitted weather balloons with air quality sensors, resulting in huge glowing balloons that respond to surrounding air quality. Their Instructables page shows that pretty much anyone can make these using a PIC, a tri-colored LED, and some off-the-shelf air quality sensors (about $10 each): 'This Instructable will show you how to make giant, super cool, glowing balloons that react to surrounding air quality. Inside each balloon is a tri-colored LED. This LED reacts to data from an air quality sensor, turning green, yellow or red based on low, average, and high values.'"
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DIY Air Quality Balloons

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pollen? Cyanide content? Instant death fumes? CO? Weak article.

    • Air concentrations of the BLACKLIGHT virus.

      This implementation has the advantage of being minigame-resistant.

      • No need to worry lieutenant, the BLACKLIGHT sensors are currently indicating no alarm. Let's have a private chat about this just out of view of the other soldiers.

    • Your choice of testing for volatile organics or for exhaust fumes.

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:48PM (#33171464)
      Poor air quality can usually be described as "there are way too many balloons up there."
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by zhong-guo (1872764)
      you americans thing your so smarter with these stuffs. china is rolling you all, grow a brain. Balloons? china has superior sensors for this and you think this is for stealing this? Dust! we look behind and you fight everyone when we are winning and you do not know. so weak.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Aren't you supposed to be making plastic crap for us?

        GET BACK TO WORK CHAIRMAN, NOW!
      • by Laser Dan (707106)

        you americans thing your so smarter with these stuffs. china is rolling you all, grow a brain. Balloons? china has superior sensors for this and you think this is for stealing this? Dust! we look behind and you fight everyone when we are winning and you do not know. so weak.

        Yeah, China's superior sensors don't even need tri-coloured LEDs!
        Chinese air is so "advanced" that they only need the red one!

  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Superdarion (1286310) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:16PM (#33171318)

    ... how long before we start seeing a bunch of UFO reports in the area?

  • by hoytak (1148181)

    Why the balloons in the article are all glowing different colors?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Someone farted?

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      That's what happens when you want accurate results from a cheap sensor.

      Actually, it's probably either different sensors configures in the different balloons or someone's deodorant or body spray interacting with them.

      well, that's my guess anyways.

    • by GaryOlson (737642)
      Geeks have been know to be rather noxious from time to time. Especially after spending time building a project.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:59PM (#33171510) Journal
    By skipping all that "sensor" and "tri-color-LED" crap and just putting a red LED, a battery, and some sarin in my balloon....
  • These values are measures for the quality of the air surrounding the huge weather balloon. The weather balloon is huge and it glows. The huge glowing weather balloon was made by students at Carnegie Mellon University...

    You're repeating yourself. You said that already. You're just saying the same thing over and over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      And they use LEDs. Don't forget the tri-colored LEDs. Because it's important to mention tri-colored LEDs whenever they're used. And they're using tri-colored LEDs. Which are LEDs that come in three colors.

      I'm going to stick my head in a microwave now.
    • by Menkhaf (627996) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @04:15AM (#33172190)

      From the summary:

      and some off-the-shelf air quality sensors (about $10 each)

      From the article (sorry, Instructable):

      - Air Quality Sensor from Figaro (I recommend the VOC or the diesel/exhaust sensor, $10/$20 each)

      I guess it was just too hard to copy/paste two prices.

      The article is just as bad. I mean, this is Carnegie Mellon University. How's this for science:

      Data sheet for both sensors suggests 48 hours of preheat to make the elements most stable. I've run them for about 24 hours and it seemed to work fine.

      Oh, so your sensors "seem to work fine". Here's a quote from the datasheets:

      [solvent vapor sensor] Standard test conditions: Conditioning period before test: 7 days
      [gasoline and diesel exhaust sensor] Standard test conditions: Conditioning period before test: 2-7 days

      No calibration whatsoever. Dumbasses.

      I hope these wankers create an air pollution scare and the local population starts wearing gas masks to defend themselves from horrendous air quality because the people who'll build this kind of thing has no clue, follows the Instructable without question and makes the same mistakes as the UNI-FUCKING-VERSITY people.

  • by Itninja (937614) on Friday August 06, 2010 @11:34PM (#33171670) Homepage

    Homer: Ready!

    Troy: First, patch the cracks in the slab using a latex patching compound and a patching trowel.

    Homer: [to Bart] Hand me my patching trowel, boy.[Bart shrugs.] Hmm.

    Troy: Now, do you have extruded poly-vinyl foam insulation?

    Homer: No.

    Troy: Good! Assemble the aluminum J-channel using self-burring screws. Install!

    Homer: What do I do for-

    Troy: After applying brushable coating to the panels...

    Homer: Wait a minute-

    Troy: You'll need some corrosion resistant metal stucco lath.

    Homer: Wait a minute!

    Troy: If you can't find metal stucco lath...

    Homer: Uh-huh?

    Troy: Use carbon-fibre stucco lath!

    Homer: Ohhhh!!

    Troy: Now parge the lath!

  • I accept that this is not directly related to the story but what the hell is an "instructable"?

    I can understand that something obvious like "instructions" was taken so they had to come up with something catchy. Would it really be so brand-defeating to just type "these instructions"? Do I have to be bashed in the head, reminded about the fact that I'm visiting a site called "instructable"?

    By the way, why are the balloons in one spot different colors? Does this thing actually work properly?

    • By the way, why are the balloons in one spot different colors? Does this thing actually work properly?

      Each balloon is attached to a sensor for a single pollutant, which then lights up in different colors depending on the concentration of the pollutant which is being measured.

      • Any reason they need tri-color LEDs, rather than just bi-color ones? That would still allow a smooth gradient between red and green. I guess it lacks the cool-factor of a blue LED. Everything has to have a blue LED these days.
        • by denzacar (181829)

          3 colors == greater precision than 2. You know, like traffic lights.
          And you can't really create gradients from single LED light sources situated at the same spot. [rpi.edu]
          You might do that by putting the LEDs on opposite sides of the balloon, adding voltage control, wiring...

          I.e. making it unnecessarily more complicated, with the additional "bonus" of making the reading of the pollution levels unreadable.
          Ever notice how most human-readable non-alphanumeric indicators don't come graded in gradients ranging from -256

    • I accept that this is not directly related to the story but what the hell is an "instructable"?

      instructable (n.) - person who can be instructed. See uninstructable.

  • The war machine springs to life.

    Opens up one eager eye.

    Called to D.C and fired by Obama.

  • You'll only be able to see these at night, but I should think the main times when air quality is a problem is during the day, especially morning and evening rush hours (and afterward).

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