Seismology with Raspberry Shake

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

Keep scrolling after our chat with Branden and Mike to learn how to detect earthquakes by setting up your own Raspberry Shake kit.

What kind of data can people pick up with Raspberry Shake?

Branden: There’s two primary data streams you can get from Raspberry Shake, depending on the model. One of them is for measuring Earth’s motion. That could be an earthquake, but it could be a person walking, so it spans a wide spectrum. You can measure Earth motion from a magnitude six earthquake from the exact other side of the globe – about 16,000 km away. This motion is finer than the thickness of a human hair.

The other type of sensor is called Raspberry Boom, which is a similar sensor but it measures what’s happening in the atmosphere around and above your body. There’s been a lot of fun activity in the community with that, measuring explosions, as well as measuring meteors colliding with the atmosphere.

What interesting ways have people used Raspberry Shake?

Mike: The world went quiet during Covid, with everyone indoors, shut away. Our network is the largest seismic network in real time around the world and we noticed that the human noise of people walking around, traffic, etc., went quiet. It generated some buzz in our community.

It allowed for seismographs to actually detect more of the Earth’s rumble, but on the other side it was fascinating how much noise was reduced, and there was a study done on it in Science.

Branden: There were 72 authors for the paper. 71 of them are professional seismologists… and then there’s one person who is listed as a co-author who is a citizen scientist from our community.

Find live data from your area

Mike: Raspberry Shakes and Booms have been used in wildlife conservation. So for detecting elephants, how they communicate with each other, and it’s been used in a savannah in Africa.

And also for conservations efforts for the black-footed ferret. A zoo worked alongside seismologists, and what they did was try and find new habitats for the ferret. So they set up Raspberry Shakes in various habitat zones, because they’re very sensitive to vibrations so, as an endangered species, they want to make sure they’re happy.

Detect earthquakes and more with this excellent kit

Raspberry Shake | From £136 / $175  |

01. Hardware setup

With the DIY kit you have to supply your own Raspberry Pi, and get the geophone wired up to the Raspberry Shake board itself, which needs to be placed on the first 26 pins of Raspberry Pi’s GPIO. Seal it inside the enclosure and then make sure it will stand level with a spirit level and the adjustable feet in its desired location.

02. Install software

If you didn’t get the Raspberry Shake SD card, download the OS and install it with Raspberry Pi Imager. Plug in the SD card and power up Raspberry Pi, and then head to a browser on another computer and type in http://rs.local. The username is myshake, while the password is shakeme by default, so make sure to change them.

03. Listen for earthquakes

Once all set up, you can start sharing your data to the Raspberry Shake community – exact location is obfuscated so people won’t be able to find out where you live. After hitting Forward Data, your Raspberry Shake will restart and you’ll be able to see data from your station from the global station view page.

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