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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: Sensor-Rich Expansion Board Brings Science Closer to Daily Life Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Our environment faces challenges. Climate changes and other environmental issues mean we all have to learn more about earth sciences and develop solutions to keep this big blue marble spinning.

The world needs environmental scientists. To that end, the field of environmental science continues to be a growing career choice. It's an interdisciplinary academic field that draws on ecology, geology, meteorology, biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics to study environmental problems and human impacts on the environment.

That also means inquiring minds require reliable and versatile educational tools to aid in the learning process.

In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at DFRobot's Environment Science Expansion Board V2.0 specially designed for the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) educational approach.

What Does It Do?

What doesn't it do? The micro:bit-based Environment Science Expansion Board V2.0 is the Swiss Army Knife of expansion boards. It’s designed for users to measure environmental conditions for scientific experiments or projects. Best of all, the board has a ton of onboard sensors that cover basic aspects of nature and science in daily life.

What types of integrated sensors?

  • Ultraviolet with a sensitivity wavelength of 280nm to 390nm
  • Temperature with a display range of 10℃~+85℃
  • Humidity with a measuring range of 0~100 percent RH, Resolution 0.1 percent RH
  • Air quality that measures Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) and carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Water temperature with an operating temperature range of -55℃~125℃
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) water quality

Figure 1: The Environment Science Expansion Board V2.0 for micro:bit is loaded with onboard sensors that cover all basic aspects of nature and science. (Source/DFRobot)

The board, which measures 11cm x 19.6cm, sections off the sensors sensibly and uniquely with blinking LEDs (Figure 1). The horizontal-oriented PCB features a tree, house, and snowy mountain. It looks fun. Readings for atmospheric, sound, color, and water tests appear in the tree-shaped area. The house part has the motherboard socket connection, and the mountain is the power supply where you put the three 1.5V AAA batteries.

The board is an upgrade from its first iteration. This second version comes with Wi-Fi-Internet of Things (IoT) card and supports IoT platforms such as IFTTT, ThingSpeak, and EasyIoT. It also has a more powerful chip and more I/O ports.

Tuesday's Takeaway

Who knew an expansion board kit could make learning to be an environmental scientist so fun? With its numerous sensors, it's a busy board, but it's a good busy.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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