Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscience Communication An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 1, issue 1 | Copyright
Geosci. Commun., 1, 25-34, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-1-25-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Oct 2018

Research article | 10 Oct 2018

Building a Raspberry Pi school magnetometer network in the UK

Ciarán D. Beggan1 and Steve R. Marple2 Ciarán D. Beggan and Steve R. Marple
  • 1British Geological Survey, Research Ave South, Riccarton, Edinburgh, UK
  • 2Physics Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Abstract. As computing and geophysical sensor components have become increasingly affordable over the past decade, it is now possible to design and build a cost-effective system for monitoring the Earth's natural magnetic field variations, in particular for space weather events. Modern fluxgate magnetometers are sensitive down to the sub-nanotesla (nT) level, which far exceeds the level of accuracy required to detect very small variations of the external magnetic field. When the popular Raspberry Pi single-board computer is combined with a suitable digitiser it can be used as a low-cost data logger. We adapted off-the-shelf components to design a magnetometer system for schools and developed bespoke Python software to build a network of low-cost magnetometers across the UK. We describe the system and software and how it was deployed to schools around the UK. In addition, we show the results recorded by the system from one of the largest geomagnetic storms of the current solar cycle.

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As computing and geophysical sensor components have become increasingly affordable over the past decade, it is now possible to build a cost-effective system for monitoring the Earth's natural magnetic field variations, in particular for space weather events, e.g. aurorae. Sensors available to the general public are ~ 100 times less sensitive than scientific instruments but only 1/100th of the price. We demonstrate a system that allows schools to contribute to a genuine scientific sensor network.
As computing and geophysical sensor components have become increasingly affordable over the past...
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