Raspberry Shake – The Personal Seismograph

Engineers from OSOP are crowdfunding the Raspberry Shake, a personal seismograph unit that works with a Raspberry Pi.

Angel Rodriguez loves exploring the Earth through vibrations and seismography. He had trouble finding a seismograph that was portable, easy to use and cost effective. His solution to the problem is The Raspberry Shake, a personal seismograph for earth science enthusiasts.

Raspberry Shake works with any Raspberry Pi B, B+, 2B and 3, along with future models that include internet functionality. Other single board computers can also work with the Shake but will need the system wired to their RS232 TX/RX port and a few other modifications.

The Shake consists of a geophone, amplifier, digitizer and ARM processor. The geophone creates a current from a thin coil and magnets inside a metal can. The campaign page says that any geophone will work with the system if it has a 4.5 Hertz frequency and a coil resistance of 380 ohms. An amplifier takes the current and digitizes it to be sent into the processor and then the Raspberry Pi unit itself. The Pi takes the processor data and transforms it into standard seismographic data.

Raspberry Shake lets the user see data in real time or from a remote location. The unit can be placed in a quiet location and the user can access the data online. Data is stored in SEED (Standard for the Exchange of Earthquake Data) format and shared through the Shake’s website. Data can be dumped to the user daily as a helicorder or spectrogram, and send alarms by email or Telegram.

Raspberry Shake can record earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 and up from a 50 mile radius, and earthquakes magnitude 4.0 and up from a 300 mile radius. Short period earthquakes of 0.5 – 15 Hertz can also be detected. The founders of the campaign have also written a book Personal Seismology that guides the user through the build and use of the Shake. The campaign page notes that earthquakes cannot be predicted using the device and also do not detect direction of the earthquake, only distance away from the unit.  

It’s always inspiring to see a hobbyist take something that is his passion (and vocation – Rodriguez works at OSOP and helped to develop the Sixaola seismograph) and turn it into an open source tool for everyone to use. There are several ideas for users of the Raspberry Shake on the campaign page, and the team expects that several additional applications can be found by new users of the device. The campaign has blown past its $7,000 goal and will be funded on August 20, 2016. Units are expected to ship in November 2016.