Zack Seifert's SENSE Offers Environmental Sensing for Arduino, CircuitPython, Raspberry Pi

Launching on May 17th, the SENSE packs a wealth of features into a surprisingly compact board design — and is open source, too.

UPDATE (05/20/22): Zack Seifert's crowdfunding campaign, to bring the multi-function SENSE environmental sensing board to life, has now opened on Kickstarter — and has already easily surpassed it funding goal.

With physical rewards for the boards set at $29 for early bird backers, demand for the devices has proven strong. With funding now guaranteed, Seifert will begin preparations for production of the boards for delivery in September this year.

Original article continues below.

17-year-old Zack Seifert, president of his high school's robotics team and self-described electronics enthusiast, is looking to launch an environmental monitoring add-on compatible with everything from Arduino microcontrollers to Raspberry Pi single-board computers: SENSE.

"I have been designing and prototyping an environmental sensor board that works with Arduino and Raspberry Pi," Seifert explains. "SENSE integrates multiple environmental sensors along with a real-time clock and microSD card holder. I created SENSE to inspire other makers to build projects to sense and solve environmental problems and automate their home."

The compact SENSE board aims to pack as many environmental-sensing features as possible into a small footprint. (📹: Nexus Electronics)

The SENSE board itself, a compact design with headers to either side offering breadboard compatibility if populated, is built around three core sensors: the BME688, which offers high-accuracy temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and volatile organic compound (VOC) sensing; the APDS9960, which offers full-color sensing, distance measurement, and simple gesture control; and the SPK0641HT4H, an on-board MEMS microphone offering pulse density modulation (PDM) output.

In addition to its core sensors, the SENSE also includes a PCF8523 real-time clock with battery back-up and a microSD slot, the latter offering SPI and SDIO interfaces and designed for local logging.

Headers at either side of the board provide a means of connecting to the board for those who don't mind soldering, and are supplied unpopulated unless you pay a $3 surcharge per board for pre-soldered headers, while a pair of STEMMA QT/Qwiic connectors to the top and bottom provide solderless connectivity as an alternative.

On the software side Seifert has put together libraries for Arduino and CircuitPython microcontrollers and the Raspberry Pi family of single-board computers, building on code released by Adafruit.

Everything is published under the permissive MIT license, while Seifert has also pledged to make the board schematic and design files available following the closure of the project's crowdfunding campaign.

"I designed SENSE to be the ultimate environmental sensor development board by integrating the most sensors and features into the smallest form factor," Seifert explains. "In addition, I strived to maximize the ease of use by adding Qwiic connectors and expanding the compatibility to thousands of microcontrollers."

The crowdfunding campaign is scheduled to go live on Kickstarter on May 17th; interested parties can sign up to be notified when the campaign launches. Boards will be priced at $29 for the first 100 backers and $35 thereafter, with hardware delivery projected for September.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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