Environmental Monitoring with Arduino: Building Simple Devices to Collect Data About the World Around Us Paperback – Feb 12 2012
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Building Simple Devices to Collect Data About the World Around Us
About the Author
Emily Gertz is a correspondent for OnEarth Magazine. She has been covering DIY environmental monitoring since 2004, when she interviewed engineer-artist Natalie Jeremijenko for Worldchanging.com. Her latest, on citizen radiation monitoring in Japan, was published by OnEarth Magazine in April 2011. She has been hands-on with internet technologies since 1994 as a web producer, community host, and content strategist. Her articles have appeared in Grist, Dwell, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, and more.
Patrick Di Justo is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, where he writes the magazine's monthly What's Inside column, and the author of The Science of Battlestar Galactica (Wiley, October 2010). His work has appeared in Dwell, Scientific American, Popular Science, The New York Times, and more. He has worked as a robot programmer for the Federal Reserve, and knows C, C++, Java, and Processing. He bought his first Arduino in 2007.
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1. There are no projects here that have a "gee whiz" factor. The first few chapters don't cover any more than any book about Arduino would.
2. The title is somewhat misleading. It's not really about "environmental monitoring." Yes, there is a chapter on how to hook up a temperature/humidity probe, and one chapter on hooking up a Geiger counter to the Arduino. The other chapters are on how to hook up an ethernet shield, how to measure conductivity in water (stick two wires in it), and how to measure sound (use a microphone).
3. The projects do not appear to have been designed by people who do electronics or Arduino on a regular basis. There's a chapter on using a "4 character LED display" and then it's never used again. Worse yet, WHO would use a 4 character LED display when a 16 character 2 row LCD display can be purchased for the same price and provide a very nice display? It's no more complicated than the LED display they advocate and has much more functionality.
4. There's no explanation on why ANY of the circuits work. It's basically a cookbook that says "hook up these wires, download this code, and run it." So do not expect to understand why the circuits work or why the program is written the way it is.
5. I would find it hard to get anyone excited about these projects. It's a great idea to have such a book, but they needed to have authors who would know what to do with it.
I had hoped for a lot more since this book comes from Maker Press, which is a big supporter of Arduino. However, there's nothing in this book that couldn't be learned from instructables.com and would probably be better explained there. Don't waste your money. There are a lot of books being published right now to capitalize on the Arduino, and some of them just aren't up to the task. A good book should be understandable for a newbie and exciting enough for the hobbyist. This book is neither.
Well the fact is that it does not live up to the promise of the title or even the sample pre-view. Just too much sizzle and not enough sausage. Much more can be found for free on the web that is better laid out and far better explained.
This book is a valuable lesson in the ...you-get-what-you-pay-for... school of life.
Most of the project 'construction' involves sticking maybe 4 wires from a commercial sensor into a shield then running the code downloaded from GitHub.
The code is reasonably well commented and available free for anyone to download.
The projects promise far more in their titles and descriptions than they deliver in practice. The EMI monitor for example is a 3ft length of wire and a resistor. Noise pollution monitoring turns out to be a microphone stuck in a breadboard. The most sophisticated project is the Geiger counter which basically involves ..er... buying a Geiger counter and hooking up another couple of wires to an 'opto-coupler' using an LDR from Radio shack. The section on using Pachube is basically: read the instructions at Pachube.
Just the title itself offers more than is found in the actual text.
Maybe the authors could add some more content such as: A human interactivity physical bio-feedback monitor-(a switch) or a wide spectrum human auditory canal tester-(a buzzer)or maybe a UFO detector-(requires UFO for calibration)... and then sell the 'upgraded' version for more.
The end of the book has an offer to pay $4.99 to get the same content again in other DRM free formats such as PDF and EPUB which I doubt anyone will ever take up.
If you are looking for practical, useful, down to earth projects to do with your Arduino, this book is your destination.
One caveat, though. Figure 1-4 on page 8 shows an LED connected to pin 13 and ground, with no resistor. You should ALWAYS use a resistor between an LED and ground. Your LED's and your Arduino will both thank you, and both will enjoy a longer life.
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
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.
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
If you are looking to create real world sensors that will economically meet your needs to monitor some environmental phenomenon, I'd go somewhere else.
The book is filled with big claims e.g. noise from ships affecting marine mammals (I don't doubt that it is true) and then describes a very cheesy noise level meter that does not even include a hydrophone. I would have liked less agenda and more engineering/science. If you are going to talk about complex needs you could at least design sensors that will be useful to accurately measure phenomena that are applicable to defining or solving the problem.
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