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https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2018-10
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Research article 09 Jul 2018

Research article | 09 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscience Communication (GC).

Building a Raspberry Pi School Magnetometer Network in the UK

Ciarán D. Beggan1 and Steve R. Marple2 Ciarán D. Beggan and Steve R. Marple
  • 1British Geological Survey, Research Ave South, Riccarton, Edinburgh, UK
  • 2Physics Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Abstract. As computing and geophysical sensor components have become increasingly affordable over the past decade, it is now possible to design and build a cost-effective system for monitoring the Earth's natural magnetic field variations, in particular for space weather events. Modern fluxgate magnetometers are sensitive down to the sub-nanotesla level, which far exceeds the level of accuracy required to detect very small variations of the external magnetic field. When the popular Raspberry Pi single-board computer is combined with a suitable digitiser it can be used as a low-cost data logger. We adapted off-the-shelf components to design a magnetometer system for schools and developed bespoke Python software to build a network of low-cost magnetometers across the UK. We describe the system and software and how it was deployed to schools around the UK. In addition, we show the results recorded by the systems from one of the largest geomagnetic storms of the current solar cycle.

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Ciarán D. Beggan and Steve R. Marple
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Ciarán D. Beggan and Steve R. Marple
Ciarán D. Beggan and Steve R. Marple
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Short summary
As computing and geophysical sensor components have become increasingly affordable over the past decade, it is now possible to build a cost-effective system for monitoring the Earth's natural magnetic field variations, in particular for space weather events e.g. aurora. Sensors available to the general public are around 100 less sensitive than scientific instruments but only one-hundreth the price. We demonstrate a system that allows schools to contribute to a genuine scientific sensor network.
As computing and geophysical sensor components have become increasingly affordable over the past...
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