Earthquake detection & early warning systems

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Lighthaus is addressing the lack of earthquake early warning systems (EEWs) available to the American public.

We’re applying herd protection & data crowdsourcing to natural disasters. Physically, our devices will be small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand. They will be plugged into the wall sockets of our customer’s homes and office spaces, monitoring the acceleration of the wall and streaming this data to our servers. When an earthquake strikes, our neural networks will first make certain that an earthquake is in fact underway. They will then immediately send warning messages to all sensors in the region of the incoming shockwaves.


Topics to be expanded upon over the course of our project:

* herd immunity

* basic physics of an earthquake

* millisecond timing in IOT devices on different networks

* how to build our own shake table

  • Putting our first boards together!

    Sean11 hours ago 0 comments

    This week we had our circuit boards delivered, and began pasting accelerometer chips to them so we can start testing and refining the prototype. To do so, we had to learn a few new tricks, including the proper use of solder paste, stencils, and hot air guns. When we're done, we'll have 1`4 boards with three different types of accelerometer chip, from which we will choose an accelerometer for the final product. 

    Here's a brief overview of the process:

    1. File down any projections on the sides of the boards.

    2. Align the stencil sheet to the circuit board, and tape the sheet in place.

    3. Turn on the hot air gun and set the temperature to the melting point of the solder paste, as indicated on its data sheet.

    4. Place a small dab of solder paste just above the stencil on the sheet.

    5. Use the solder paste spreader (any card works just as well) to scrape the solder paste across the stencil. Keep pressure applied to the stencil to ensure no paste is pushed anywhere except the stencil area. Spread the paste until the stencil is completely filled in, and you can no longer see the gold of the circuit board. 

    6. Gently remove the board so as not to disturb the solder paste. It should not look like this:

    7. Use tweezers to delicately place the chip in the correct orientation on solder paste on the board.

    8. Using the hot air gun, heat the board using circular motions until the solder paste turns matte gray.

    9. Then, aim the gun directly at the chip until the solder paste melts and becomes silver, about 30 seconds.

    10. Remove the hot air gun, and use the tweezers (board will be very hot!) to inspect the board for bridging.

    11. Use a multimeter to test each pin against the rest, looking for bridging. Often chips will have two or more pins acting as a common ground, these will show a connection. Read the chip's data sheet to confirm that these pins are indeed common grounds, and not just bridged.

    12. Bask in the satisfaction of pasting your own circuit boards!


  • Surface Mount Soldering for Programmers!

    Ryan Logsdon6 days ago 2 comments

    In preparation for next week when we'll be working with custom boards, Sean and I improved our soldering skills.  Who says a programmer and an MBA student can't solder like champs?

    As it turns out, my issues in the past have been twofold:

    1. an assumption that the electronics parts can't take sustained heat has led me to solder FAST and at low heat.  This week, we've cranked the dial up to 750 F, and taken our time to pre-heat the pads as well as the electronic components,


    2. using rosin-core solder incorrectly. How? By not clipping it off a few inches at a time.  I've always unraveled the solder wire right from the spool, and after a few connections, it seemed to get harder and harder.  As I've learned this week, it gets more difficult because the rosin is melting well into the spooled wire.  Solution: clip a few inches off at a time.

  • Simple KiCad Breakout Board (Part 2)

    Ryan Logsdon06/14/2018 at 16:36 0 comments

    A step-by-step guide, using KiCad to make a simple breakout board for tiny, tiny chips!

    This is part 2: creating the physical component layout.


    Open the EESchematic ("Electronic Schematic Editor")


    Import Our "Part 1" Tutorial Work

    Now that we've created a logical chip, we can import it into KiCad.

    Preferences > component libraries > add > (find your newly saved file) > ok


    Place the Component on the Board

    Place (as in File/Edit/View/.../Place) > Component > (type your component's name in the filter) > select the component > ok


    Working with the Footprint

    Select the Footprint Editor icon

    File > New Footprint > (add a name) > ok


    Change the Default Text

    Change "REF**" to "U**"


    Add a Pad

    Add a pad to your footprint. Drop it in place anywhere.

    Right-click > Edit Pad > (change "Pad type" to "SMD" & change "Shape" to Rectangular").


    Add Remaining Physical Parts


    Creating a Library

    Click the "Create new library & save current footprint" icon

    Name the library "smd_MyProjectName" > ok


    Add this Library to Project

    Preferences > Footprint Libraries Wizard > Add (choose your "smd_MyProjectName" path > ok  (note that the file was saved as a *.pretty file) > next > (select "global" if in doubt) > finish

    Select "Active Library"


    Save Footprint

    Select the "Save footprint in active library" icon

  • Simple KiCad Breakout Board (Part 1)

    Ryan Logsdon06/14/2018 at 16:30 0 comments

    This is my first attempt at using KiCad, and it's meant as a step-by-step tutorial for others new to KiCad.

    This is part 1:  creating the logical chip design.

    Part 2 will be creating the physical component layout.


    Create a new project

    File > New Project > New Project 

    Choose a name and save it in an empty directory (if it's not empty, you'll be prompted to choose an empty one).

    We're going to build a logical schematic of our tiny chip....


    Open the "Schematic Library Editor"


    Create a New Component

    Click "Create a new component" > (enter a name) > OK


    Where'd the component go?

    If your new component doesn't show up, zoom in to the dead-center of the layout.  It's just hiding in small print.

    Also, there are 2 lines of text laid right on top each other.  To fix this, hover your mouse over the text for a moment, press "m" (for "move"), and click.  You'll see an on-screen menu pop up, asking you which piece of text you'd like to move.  Select either, then drag it a little bit away so they're no longer overlapping.


    Adding Pins

    We don't yet have a body built for our chip, but we're going to add pins.

    Select the "Add pins to component" icon. Click on screen where you want each pin to be placed.

    Add a name and number to the pin.

    Line up the input pins on the left side.  Output pins on the right.  Power (Vcc/Vdd/Vdd_IO/...) on the top. Ground/sink on the bottom.

    "Orientation Right" is for pins that will be placed on the left side of the chip.

    "Orientation Left" is for pins that will be placed on the right.

    Repeat for all of your pins.


    Draw the Chip Body

    With all of the pins lined up nicely, use the "Add graphic rectangle to component body" icon.

    Click once to start drawing the rectangle, and once more to end the drawing.

    You should now have something like this...


    Save Your Component

    Click "save current component to new library" 

    And now you can close the editor window.

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