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TRICORDUINO - 3.0 True Scientific Tricorder

This project describes the development of a multi-mode scanner platform, which can be described as a Scientific Tricorder .

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A few years ago, after taking my first contacts with embedded electronics, I decided it would be time to try building a Tricorder. My first option was to use arduino. I'm definitely not an expert, so I designed my project based much more on concepts like; Sketch simplicity, ease of assembly and possibility of miniaturization. I am aware that an expert can design something much more efficiently. Initially, I built Tricorduino 1.0 and 2.0, using arduino mega and some sensors. These prototypes work with almost no graphical resources and limiting Sketch to reading some sensors, with numerical values printed. I have recently broadened my knowledge a bit and significantly improved the graphical display of screens with Tricorduino-3.0. Using Feather MO adalogger, this platform was initially based in the project - Science Tricorder by Olympus Heavy Industries Gallery, created byQueadlunn. New sensors and new features have significantly expanded the instrument's potential.

1.0 - What would be a Tricorder

I met many scientists, some internationally renowned, who were not afraid to say that their work had some influence from science fiction. In fact, Science Reality contains a lot of inspiration from Science Fiction. In this context, the fiction of the Startrek's universe is almost a gift of inspiration. Obviously much of Startrek's fictional universe is pure poetic license using writer's jargon, but on the other hand much is potentially useful to be scientifically explored and technologically worked. An interesting example is the Tricorder whose function is to evaluate in detail the environment being explored. The concept of Tricorder is not an academic concept because the instrument was conceived within a fictional universe. So, defining a concept for the Tricorder within our scientific reality at least for now is a matter of much more personal interpretation. My personal view, based on all the episodes I've could watch, is that a Tricorder lets us extend the human senses to what we can see and hear. However, more than that, it also allows for clarification of completely stranger things based on the crossing of information from not so stranger things. So, a Tricorder is not simply a collection of sensors, but a small computer with a vestige of artificial intelligence to process known things and get information for unknown things. But what are known things and what are unknown things? This is a difficult question to answer because the definition of known and unknown is inherent at the human consciousness. Sometimes an unknown thing is just a different composition of known things. For example, we may find a metal alloy completely unknown to our technology, but it must certainly be made of known metals. Similarly, we can find a polymer composite completely unknown to our technology, but certainly its integral components are known. This should be so because we know that the Periodic Table is closed within physical and chemical limitations to the laws of our universe. This means that a Tricorder could tell us what a metal alloy is made of or what the chemical components of a polymer composite are, but any information will be based on the periodic table that is well known a priori. Another different example can be drawn from a hypothetical situation. Imagine that an unidentified flying object appears to our eyes only as a body of light. A Tricorder can analyze the object by evaluating the magnetic field, electric field, radiation, temperature, electromagnetic spectrum, heat and sound emitted by it. The intersection of this information can delineate the nature of the object and help to understand what it can be, much more than our simple senses. Of course, this is a totally hypothetical but fully feasible situation. In that case, the Tricorder will evaluate known effects and define the unknown, or at least help our brain to do so. The fact is, we don't have this kind of instrument yet, at least not yet the size of a cell phone. It may be possible to do all of this using a set of equipment from a super lab with the help of several computers. However, before this is possible we must go through the sensor collection stage. Through miniaturized processors and chemical and electronic sensors, it is already possible to build Tricorder prototypes in reasonable dimensions for operational use. I think we can call this Proto Tricorders.
Electronic sensors are widely available and are sold in small practical instruments for different tasks. We can find thermometers, thermal cameras, ultrasonic measuring tapes and others that are used daily by different professionals. In this context, cell phones are Proto Tricorders because apps often work within the principles that govern the definition of a Tricorder. It is all a matter of practical utility. Thinking this way, a Tricorder can be very practical and usual even if it is not used on other planets. In other words, a Tricorder can be very useful for soldiers, engineers,...

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Tricorduino_3.0_V2.zip

This version include some control of disturber and noise for AS3935

Zip Archive - 36.62 kB - 11/22/2021 at 14:09

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Zip Archive - 15.62 MB - 11/03/2021 at 12:39

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  • 1 × Adafruit Feather M0 Adalogger (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2796 ) Primary microcontroller for the unit
  • 1 × Adafruit CAP1188 (https://www.adafruit.com/product/1602) Capacitive Touch controller
  • 1 × Adafruit 2.4" TFT LCD (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2478) Display
  • 1 × Adafruit DS3231 (https://www.adafruit.com/product/3013) Real time clock with battery backup
  • 1 × Adafruit TCA9548A (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2717) i2c Multiplexer

View all 22 components

  • One year of testing

    Antonio Cesar de Oliveira02/09/2023 at 16:39 0 comments

    During approximately one year I've been doing tests with Tricorduino 3.0 and I would like to talk a little about these tests in a qualitative way. Initially, I would like to comment about some aspects of the sensors used. The Clima Tempo function proved to be extremely useful for predicting frost in the orchard where I live, with some accuracy. The thyndall effect analysis of the atmosphere was very promising. It was possible to observe the variation of dust in suspension for different times of the year. With an initial calibration of the sensor inside a dry Nitrogen chamber it will be possible to better quantify the effect. The gamma radiation sensor is very promising, but I haven't been able to test it with radioactive samples yet. However it is possible to observe variations of radiation reading at different altitudes, sea level and above 3000 meters due to cosmic rays. The TSL2591 light sensor easily saturates with the sun which requires a neutral filter of approximately 30% to operate in daylight. Ultra violet light sensors work very well and are very reliable. The air quality sensor is also very efficient at detecting changes in the concentration of CO2 and volatile gases. However, the response time is a bit slow if there is not good air circulation. On the other hand, the gas sensor is not very reliable as the sensitivity is far from being specific for each type of gas. Besides, I didn't particularly have much use for this type of measure. The inertial sensors were completely useless as I never really used them. Perhaps it could be useful inside an aircraft or boat. Electric field and magnetic field sensors look promising in metal mining areas. There is a lot to be explored by these sensors, but a previous calibration process is necessary for more quantitative investigations. The spectrograph is extremely promising, but needs a constantly available calibration system. Due to the lack of a calibration system, its use is quite limited and the repeatability of measurements is greatly affected. As I said before, it was not possible to use this system due to the lack of pins available on the processor. To make calibration available, it would be necessary to dispense with some other sensors. The lightning sensor can be fine-tuned to avoid interference, but the processor is very susceptible to shutdowns when lightning strikes less than 1 km away. The combination between the MLX90614 and AMG88xx sensors works relatively well, however it would be desirable in a next version to use the interpolation library for the thermal camera.

    Finally, it was quite evident to me, after this period of testing, the need to further miniaturize the device. A small box that could be carried in a pants or jacket pocket would be very desirable. In addition, a printed circuit board is essential to avoid frequent bad contact with wire up connections.

  • Sketch - Second Version

    Antonio Cesar de Oliveira11/22/2021 at 13:52 0 comments

    11/22/2021

              Tests done during a storm, showed excessive sensitivity of the AS3935 sensor. So I had to add command lines in the code to render better sensitivity control. The new version of the sketch uses byte noiseFloor = 4 and byte watchDogVal = 4.

  • Sketch - First Version

    Antonio Cesar de Oliveira11/03/2021 at 14:26 0 comments

    11/03/2021

             The Tricorduino_3.0_V1 file is the first reasonably clean version of the sketch. Even so, it is far from being completely clean and optimized. I must confess that I worked on this code for over 2 years eliminating conflicts and interference between sensors. Such a task carried out over such a long period makes us lose our sense of the details. It will take me a long time to optimize this code and get it completely clean. Eventually if someone with knowledge proposes to do this, he will have all my blessing.
              Lightning sensor is working but requires better sensitivity control. In the next few days I will be doing tests and implementing code improvements to avoid excessive disturbances. It's a good thing we're in the rainy season here.

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  • 1
    Connections

    You can find every information about Feather MO Adalogger in: https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-feather-m0-adalogger/overview

    I have used all pins of Feather and I would like to have more pins available. These are the connections of the set:

    Pin00- RX (Tx GPS) 

    Pin01- TX (Rx GPS) 

    Pin02- n/a (no external pin)

    Pin03- n/a (no external pin)

    Pin04- SD card CS (no external pin)

    Pin05- Touch Interrupt ( irq – CAP1188)

    Pin06- (TFT_CS)

    Pin07- SD card CD (no external pin)

    Pin08- SD Red LED (no external pin)

    Pin09-  A7 - Battery sensor (This analog input is connected to a voltage divider for    

                the lipoly battery so be aware that this pin naturally 'sits' at around 2VDC  

                due to the resistor divider)

    Pin10- Interrupt (Lightning sensor)

    Pin11- Interrupt (Spectrograph)

    Pin12- Noise (RadiationWatch)

    Pin13- Signal (RadiationWatch) - Feather red LED 

    Pin14- A0 to (TFT_DC)

    Pin15- A1 to (Eletrostatic sensor circuit)

    Pin16- A2 to (EMF Low Frequency Antenna)

    Pin17- A3 to (RF sensor)

    Pin18- A4 to (Speaker) 

    Pin19- A5 to (RGB sensor LED control)

    Pin20- SDA

    Pin21- SCL

    Pin22- MISO (TFT, SD)

    Pin23- MOSI (TFT, SD)

    Pin24- SCK (TFT, SD)

    You can find every information about TCA9548A in:

    https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-tca9548a-1-to-8-i2c-multiplexer-breakout/overview

    I have use all case select of this multiplexer to bypass all I2c address conflict issues. These are the case selects connections:

    tcaselect(0); i2c multiplexer set to GRIDEYE

    tcaselect(1); i2c multiplexer set to RTC

    tcaselect(2); i2c multiplexer set to BME280

    tcaselect(3); i2c multiplexer set to TSL2591

    Tcaselect(4); i2c multiplexer set to VL53L1X

    Tcaselect(5); i2c multiplexer set to TCS34725

    Tcaselect(6); i2c multiplexer set to CCS811

    Tcaselect(7); i2c multiplexer set to MAX30105

  • 2
    Electrostatic Sensor Circuit

    This is very simple circuit that you can see detailed in; http://talkingelectronics.com/projects/200TrCcts/200TrCcts.html#8

    A1 from Feather board is connected at the junction between the 220 R and the third transistor collector. In fact, this circuit is extremely sensitive and can detect everything from the displacement of electrostatic charges to variations in electrical fields such as electrical discharges from tasers or electrified fences.

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Discussions

josh034 wrote 12/02/2023 at 14:30 point

Thank you for the update. I look forward to it.🙂

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 11/30/2023 at 15:15 point

Hi Josh, In some days I will publish the new version TRICORDUINO 4.0

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 10/13/2023 at 02:25 point

Have there then been any updates? Has anyone had success with building one? If so, how did it go?

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josh034 wrote 03/23/2023 at 00:43 point

The smaller size sounds good. I hate to lose sensors but I understand the reasons.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 03/13/2023 at 01:39 point

I’m just seeing your February update. Are you thinking of removing any of the sensors you mentioned? Would you replace them? Last question: How much would you like to shrink the size?

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Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 03/15/2023 at 16:26 point

Hi Josh,

Yes, I'm thinking of removing some sensors and making space to reduce to the size of something that fits in a pants pocket and doesn't make me look like a ghost hunter when I'm wearing it in public. I would also like to use a screen that is more visible in bright sunlight during the day. The set has to be very solid and resistant to withstand falls.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 12/22/2022 at 14:18 point

Hi Josh,

Please give me one or two weeks and I will post some news.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 12/14/2022 at 00:42 point

Have you had to make any major changes/updates since your last post? I was thinking of supply chain issues.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 07/15/2022 at 03:37 point

Thank you for the update. I look forward to you next post.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 07/10/2022 at 14:26 point

I was wondering if you had made any updates or changes?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 07/13/2022 at 22:18 point

Hi Josh, 

I am doing some tests yet. Results from spectrograph are very complicated to understand directly. In general it is necessary data reduction in computer some time after the research. I will publish some thing in 2 or 3 months.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 02/17/2022 at 01:39 point

Would it be possible to recalibrate the sensors if needed?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 02/20/2022 at 22:33 point

No, there isn’t free pins available. 

This option is for the future in other versions.

  Are you sure? yes | no

josh034 wrote 12/04/2021 at 02:27 point

Thank you for taking time to respond. You had actually answered that in the description. But I had missed it on my initial read thru. My apologies.

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josh034 wrote 12/02/2021 at 20:30 point

I did want to ask one last question. Have you thought about what the final outer shell will look like? Or is it too early for that right now?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 12/03/2021 at 14:49 point

Hi josh034,

I don't think it's a good idea to design a definitive shell right now. First, a field test is necessary for a time, perhaps 6 months, in which it will be possible to assess the effectiveness of the prototype. At this time, design changes can be interesting. After that it will be necessary to design an optimized printed circuit to reduce the size of the assembly. Only then will be the right time to design a definitive shell.

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josh034 wrote 12/02/2021 at 02:48 point

That is an excellent job. I can't wait to see where you go with this.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 12/02/2021 at 14:24 point

Hi josh034,

I intend to present in a few days, a new video showing the functions for detection of electric field and microwave radiation.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Antonio Cesar de Oliveira wrote 10/20/2021 at 16:50 point

I am going detailing the project throughout this week

  Are you sure? yes | no

j wrote 10/20/2021 at 13:36 point

Great job!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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