DIY Air Quality Monitor


If you’re at all concerned about the quality of air you’re breathing, you might be interested in an air quality sensor. For example, the Awair 2nd Edition is available on Amazon for $173, has great reviews, and not only detects particulates, but also chemicals, carbon dioxide, and measures humidity and temperature. It also has Alexa integration and a companion mobile app.


For a lot less than this, if you’re willing to forgo some of the features, you can make your own sensor, like the one pictured above, for around $36. I’ve sourced the key components from Amazon, but that’s only because I’m lazy (and please note: these are not affiliate links; I’m not getting compensated for any of this). If you source from eBay or larger components retailers like Mouser, you might be able to bring the cost down a bit.

Here’s your shopping list:

  1. mini OLED display from Amazon for $7
  2. Arduino Uno from Amazon for $8.49
  3. Dust sensor module from Amazon for $19
  4. 9V battery connector from Amazon for $6 (pack of 5)

So what does this version do? Basically it uses Sharp’s GP2Y1010AU0F particulate sensor to measure dust and other stuff in the air, measured in micro-grams per cubic meter of air volume. You might be a bit skeptical about this (my picture shows nothing detected) but place this device on a carpet surface and stomp around it, and you’ll be surprised (or maybe grossed-out) by what the sensor measures. If you want to geek out the spec sheet for the module has all kinds of detail about how it works, including a reference guide for what constitutes “excellent” (0-35 μg/m^3) and “average” (35-75 μg/m^3) air quality.

OK, so how do you build one?  Easy:

1. Source the parts above. I didn’t mention wires for connecting the components, but these are super cheap and you don’t have to use prototyping connectors; you can also solder the connections if you want.

2. Wire everything up.  The OLED display connections are: SDA->A4, SCL->A5, GND->GND, VCC->5V.  The sensor module comes with a connector with 4 leads: yellow wire-> D7, blue wire->A0, black wire->GND, red wire->5V.

3. Load the sketch onto the Arduino Uno. I’ve saved the sketch file (.ino) and the two .stl files here.

4. 3D print the base and display holder. I tried to make this a single object file, but both pieces print better for me (Ender 3) as separate pieces. I super-glued the display bracket to the main base.


That’s it! Breathe easy.



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