Louisville Air Quality Stations

February 1 2015
We will be deploying a collection of air quality sensor stations in Louisville, KY. These stations measure carbon monoxide and particulates, transmitting the data to the Manylabs servers via the cellular network. The designs, documentation, software, and data will all be open source. Read background

February 1 2015


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Mission Underway

Several of the air quality sensors have now been deployed in Louisville. Five are online in the central business district (installed with the help of the City of Louisville) and one other is online in another part of the city.

The data art installation by Urban Matter is also now online. Puneet and Ken both visited Louisville this week to attend the project launch and to get feedback about the project.

The next steps are to install more units and to continue working on the server software that receives the data.

Photo by Ken McGary.

petersand 3 comments

Cool! How did you decide on where to mount them? Legal reasons or strategic locations?

The city (and a city center organization) chose to place the first set of units in the downtown business district so that they would be near the art installation that is displaying the sensor data.

Folks from the local makerspace (LVL1) have deployed a couple units elsewhere in the city.

We're not sure yet where the remaining units will go (it will be up to folks in the city).

Did you end up deciding where to put the other units? Interested to hear how it's going!

Preparation Stage

Here's a photo of a batch of sensors ready to be shipped to Louisville. Some of the units in the first batch had damage to the acrylic structure for the air intake, so we started a cardboard sleeves for the subsequent shipments. We ended up shipping 25 units, using a combination of UPS and USPS.

petersand 0 comments

The core of these air quality sensor stations is an Arduino-compatible board designed by Ken McGary. This board has all of the analog circuitry necessary to read data from an electrochemical gas sensor.

Ken has written more about the board in these two posts on the Public Lab website:



petersand 0 comments

The units are constructed from laser-cut acrylic (the internal structure) and PVC pipes (the enclosure). We're now received all the parts to assemble 30 units. (We'll build them in batches of 5-10 units.)

petersand 0 comments
Expedition Background

Our goal is deploy a collection of about 25 air quality monitoring stations in Louisville, KY. We hope that this deployment will provide useful lessons and materials for others working on low cost air quality sensing. We will make all of our design, documentation, software, and data open. Some background for project is here:


The stations measure carbon monoxide (CO), particulates, temperature, and humidity. They transmit the measurements along with various diagnostic data to the Manylabs servers via the cellular network (using GSM). Additional technical details about the project are here:


One goal of the project is to find a good balance between low-cost sensing and high-quality sensing. We have seen many DIY air quality systems using low-cost sensors that do not provide reasonably calibrated numbers. Some project report air quality in ohms (not a typical unit for air quality)!

This project includes development of tools and procedures for calibration. Ken McGary has designed both the CO sensor board and a calibration system for the sensors that uses known calibration gases. The particulate measurement is calibrated by colocation with a Dylos dust sensor. Later we plan to colocate an entire sensor unit with an EPA measurement station for additional validation. We will make all of our calibration methods and data public.

The project is a partnership between the Creative Commons, Manylabs, and Urban Matter. The project is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

petersand 1 comment

what an amazing open source project! I'm looking forward to following along, hopefully find someone who is interested in implementing a similar network around the Bay area. I'd be interested to put a couple up next to the waste treatment plant and around the shipping yard.