Public Lab Research note

MQI Environmental Recorder

by DJUltis | December 09, 2013 06:02 09 Dec 06:02 | #9861 | #9861


MQI Recorder is now available for pre-order via Citizen Scientific Workshop and a portion of the proceeds of each unit will be donated to help support Public Lab. My quest to build an easy to assemble, use, and hack multi-function environmental recorder. Made using open hardware an household materials.

The MQI currently carries a thermal flashlight, and two gas sensors. It is derived from the thermal photography project here on Public Lab, and inspired by other projects such as citizen air quality mapping projects like FLOAT. My desires were to create the beginnings of an expandable platform built to enable people everywhere to record data from their environment, and with the included MQI mobile app (in development) share that data to maps and locations via the internet.

The MQI defaults to the thermal flashlight mode, and pressing one of the two buttons switched the RGB LED to display each of the gas sensors with the same mapping function as the thermal flashlight.

Currently the MQI carries a functioning IR thermometer, MQ-2 for Methane, Butane, LPG, and smoke, and MQ-7 for Carbon Monoxide. Any sensors can be used, and I am currently pondering what might be the most beneficial combinations.

UPDATE 1/14/14 _ Finished up a nice acrylic case for the MQI, Transparent is my favorite color, it shows all of the blinky lights. I think that both a papercraft version and more permanent acrylic or wood case will be nice, as one can save on cost, and the other can encase the unit when strapped to a kite, or taped on top of your car or something... ;)

We have made some significant progress on the app as well, a demo version of which is also available here:


Builder's Tutorial is coming soon. 2013-08-06_22.40.18.jpg






This is the coolest looking thing ever. From now on I am going to include the term "tri-state" in the name of everything I make.

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Consider that my hopeful attempt to skirt the cliche of "tricorder"

3 functions for this basic model.... gotta be tri- something..

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DJUtils - i hope you saw, i featured your project in the weekly newsletter. Very cool!

Please do post your design files and everything! I love what you've don connecting the gas sensors to the RGB light too -- what is the latency on the gas sensors, and what concentrations can they detect?

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I thought I read once, that with the appropriate filter solar cells or CDS cells could measure infra red light accurately(not just near IR). Might be an idea for an additional sensor with a IR filter.

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Huh, that is a very interesting possibility... any idea where you read it?

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It was an article about making an exposure meter for use in film photography with real IF film. real IR film is no longer made now. I am pretty sure it was a solar cell. I will have to dig spectral curves for solar cells. Most cameras of the day had CDS cells and just putting a filter over the sensor cell wasn't accurate enough. I seam to remember their being some amplification circuit involved because while accurate solar cells don't produce much electricity especially with a real IR filter on them! Someone was selling pieces of good IF filter material left over after he cut round filter out of them on ebay. I will check and see if that still is a product.

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Thanks Warren, its an honor! I'm hoping to derive kitchen sink full of scientific functions soon and make a 10 function prototype soon... MQX!

App is being polished, but I'll put it in the nerdy demo video I'm about to make.

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We're working on an open absorption and fluorescence tool for measuring plant photosynthesis and I would love to also know about what sensors you're using, and the detection limits and all that stuff. We have some additional sensors in there also (temp, rel hum, CO2, etc.) but we're always interested to include more and it sounds like you've identified a few good ones. Feel free to browse our project for sensors or circuits that may be useful to you (, and project docs are at

Also, we are setting up a platform so that arduino-based devices can easily connect and store data on the web via a cell phone app. It may be a good fit for this too eventually, though we've got some work to do before it's really ready to roll.

Awesome work!

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Hi gbathree, posted an update with a demo version of our app. Maybe you might like to take a look at it and see if it helps in your work. Photosync looks great, and I'll keep reading up on your work as well.

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Awesome looking device David... congrats.... :)

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Thanks for sharing! I'll take a look next time I get a chance. Feel free to check out our app as well on github.

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