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Aurora Monitor V1

by jetty, published

Aurora Monitor V1 by jetty Jun 29, 2012

Thing Info

5061Views 3772Downloads Found in Physics & Astronomy
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See also http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:47973 for a version with an LCD screen.

It's that time. We're approaching Solar Maximum and chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis / Northern Lights are increasing worldwide.

Seeing the aurora is usually difficult, due to a lack of accurate information specific for your location. Add poor locations, light polluted skies, clouds and sometimes only a 30 min window of opportunity..., it can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Many think Auroras are limited to the Arctic. But, unless you live at the equator (and it's even seen there occasionally), you too can see it if you're in the right place at the right time.

The aurora monitor is a technology I've been using for a long time to take photographs of the aurora (attached). I've updated this technology for Thingiverse and made it a stand alone Arduino based unit which you setup for your location.

An RGB Led indicates if there's an aurora active for your location with 30-60min advance warning. The strength of the storm is indicated by the auroral color of the Led. Accuracy is around 95%.

Detailed information can be Tweeted too. Here's the feed for my location: https://twitter.com/AuroraAdec)

The Inukshuk was created from a 2D grayscale image using OmNomNom Creator: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:24639

This was printed on a Tom using Jetty Accelerated Firmware at 100mm/s: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:17855


This project is a very easy build, requiring only basic soldering skills, network setup and arduino skills.

You need:

  1. Arduino capable of Wifi or Ethernet, these ones I've tested:

  2. 10mm RGB Common Anode LED, I used this:

  3. Resistor x 3, if using the above LED, then 100 Ohm x 2, 150 Ohm (for red)

  4. Miscellaneous: A strip of header pins, wire, heat shrink or tape

  5. 9V (12V Max) Power supply for your Arduino (also a USB can be used for power)

Source code can be found here: https://github.com/jetty840/AuroraMonitor

Viewing tips for the Aurora can be found in the attached instructions.

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I love this thing. I still in the middle of printing the 3D parts. Sadly a few days ago the thingtweet stopped working. I ran a thingtweet test script to make sure the problem was not with my Ardiuno. I'll post the error when I get home from work.

jetty - in reply to troyb

Great, glad you like it. Let me know what you find with the thingtweet. incidentally, I'm working on Version 2 currently. It's basically just an extension to this version, but you can add on an LCD to give you the current Kp Index etc. without having to use twitter and the ETA. Also has a push button. I'll probably keep the Inukshuk, but change the base to something more elegant.

troyb - in reply to jetty

Can't wait to check out Version 2. This is the reply from ThingTweet on the serial port.

Last Line Read: <2013 02 03 0500 0 2013 02 03 0600 1.67 60.0 2013 02 03 0900 1.33 240.0 1.67>
State: 5
Aurora Prediction: Kp: 1.67(22:00) 1.33(01:00) AK (earth 1.67) 100% Status: Quiet
Connecting to ThingTweet...
HTTP/1.1 502 Bad Gateway
Server: nginx/0.8.53
Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2013 05:15:36 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Connection: close
Content-Length: 383

<title>The page is temporarily unavailable</title>
body { font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; }

<table height="100%" width="100%">
<td align="center" valign="middle">
The page you are looking for is temporarily unavailable.

Please try again later.

End of transmission

I've tried with the Diamondback wifi Ardiuno and a Mega with a eithernet shield. Same reply for both Ardiunos. I have ran the test script off of the thingtweet site and I can get that to post to twitter. It worked for months before. My twitter account shows close to 14,000 tweets. (Every 15mins)

Does yours still post to twitter?

troyb - in reply to troyb

ok. I changed.
Kp: 0.00(21:52) 0.00(00:52) AK (earth 0.33) 75% Status: Quiet

and it started working. Now I have to change the code to shorten the output to thingspeak.

troyb - in reply to troyb

Changed line 588 to:
sprintf(bufferPtr, "%s) Status: %s", kpToStr(wdataLast.actual), twitterStatus[monitorState] );

Everything works minus the %

jetty - in reply to troyb

Cool, that's some good sleuthing. I've investigated it further, and it appears thingspeak changed their API to not accept % in that format anymore. As I couldn't find any documentation on the change, I've tested a few theories and replacing the double percent with %%25 works. So:

sprintf(bufferPtr, "%s) %d%%25 Status: %s", kpToStr(wdataLast.actual), 100 - wdataLast.status * 25, twitterStatus[monitorState] );

I'll update the github soon. Nearly finished on V2 too, just finishing up the software.

troyb - in reply to jetty

Thanks for the fix. Can't wait to checkout V2.

jetty - in reply to troyb

I've applied the fix to github. V2 is written, tested and working, uploading to github shortly. Then I'll update the 3D printed case.

jetty - in reply to jetty

Also managed to save some Ram too.

jetty - in reply to jetty

Just released the new version, better holder / display, more stable firmware (with watchdog timer), and LCD display. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:47973http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Aurora Monitor V2
by jetty

Super-awesome and beautiful project, thank you. Adding it to my ever-growing list of Stuff to Make.