A Q&A with the Authors of Atmospheric Monitoring with Arduino
Q: Who is this book written for?
A: Great question! This book is for anyone who wants to learn more about what's going on in the air around them.
Q: What will I learn to build with this book?
A: Great question! The book show you how to build two gadgets that monitor the atmosphere. The first simple gadget detects hydrocarbon pollution in the lower atmosphere, using an Arduino microcontroller and some cheap sensors. The second, more challenging, gadget detects the composition of the upper atmosphere while remaining on the ground, using nothing more than an Arduino and a handful of light emitting diodes.
Q. What is this Arduino thing you've mentioned?
A: Great question! Arduino is an open-source microcomputer, which retails for about $35; it's perfect for hobbyists and people who want to learn about computing. You can learn more about it at the Arduino page, arduino.cc
Q: How much do I need to know to build the gadgets in this book?
A: Great question! We've designed these gadgets with the total novice in mind: you can start these projects right away, even if you have no DIY electronics experience. And for those of you who know your way around a circuit, we offer challenging suggestions to make more advanced gadgets.
Q: But I don't know how to solder electronic parts. (Or, my parents | teachers | school administration won't let me use a soldering iron.)
A: It's not difficult to learn to solder, and nearly anyone can be taught to do it safely. However, to make this book accessible to as many people as possible, we've designed the gadgets to be built with solderless breadboards.
Q: What do I do with the information I gather?
A: Great question! You can do lots of things, from satisfying your own curiosity, to doing your own scientific experiments (we include a chapter on the scientific method!), to pooling your data online with other people around town or around the world. You tell us what you can do!
Q: I'm a science teacher, can I use your book as part of my environmental science curriculum?
A: Great question! Yes! We devised these projects in part with students in mind!
Q: I'd like to have you speak to my [class | conference | group]. Who do I contact?
A: Great question! You can reach us at MonitoringWithArduino [at] gmail [dot] com
Q: What other books do you suggest I look at if I'm interested in environmental sensing?
A: Great question! We like Michael Margolis's Arduino Cookbook and Tom Igoe's Making Things Talk II (Of course, there's our first book on this topic, Environmental Monitoring with Arduino, but modesty forbids us from mentioning it here.)
Q: Who are you two?
A: Great question! Patrick was a robot programmer and a writer for Wired magazine. Emily was an environmental journalist. When knee surgery left her immobilized for a few months, Emily decided to use the time learning how to used an Arduino -- which Patrick had been tinkering with -- to help her obtain first hand data about the environment. Both this book and our previous one came out of that collaboration.
Q: Do I need opposible thumbs to make these gadgets?
A: Yes. They will help immensely.