Meet Solarcast, Safecast’s newest DIY environmental monitoring device

Solarcast unit on the roof of the MIT Media Lab. © Safecast

Given the increasing demand for accurate DIY environmental monitoring, it was only a matter of time before Safecast redesigned its core device from the breadboard up to offer an expanded array of sensors inside a weatherproof box that is wireless, self-configuring and solar powered. Meet Solarcast.

Born in the immediate chaotic aftermath of the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear meltdown that struck Fukushima, Japan, on March 11, 2011, Safecast is best known for its portable DIY Geiger counter, the bGeigie, which measures nuclear radiation levels that can be visualized on a universal open source map. Ever since then, the grassroots team of volunteers has been busy perfecting prototypes, establishing the Pointcast worldwide network of fixed radiation sensors and beta-testing dedicated devices to monitor air quality.

Solarcast, just announced on April 29 and primarily conceived and designed by original team member Ray Ozzie, is Safecast’s newest device, which combines the best of all features from previous prototypes while updating the entire package for the autonomous age.

Inside the Solarcast box. © Safecast

Each Solarcast unit includes sensors to measure temperature, humidity, radiation (same dual LND 7317 2” pancake GM tubes used in bGeigie and Pointcast) and air quality (Alphasense OPC-N2 and Plantower 5003 dual particulate sensors measure PM10, PM2.5, PM1.0). Compact, wireless and portable, it runs on solar-powered batteries, is able to identify available communication protocols and configure itself to use them on a 3G cellular network (or optional LoRa gateway with external AC power).

Its rugged, weatherproof box and capacity to function autonomously for extended periods of time are optimized for maximum deployment with the slogan “drop and forget”. Hopefully, Solarcast will lead to more shared environmental data, wider geographical coverage, increased awareness and better understanding of potential invisible dangers in the air.

Solarcast prototypes deployed in Manchester, England. © Safecast

Supported by the Shuttleworth Foundation and Annenberg Foundation and built by Fabrikor in Slovenia, Solarcast devices will be deployed in and around Los Angeles, with additional coverage locations across the United States, Europe and Japan.

More about Solarcast

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