uRADMonitor SMOGGIE — a short review

Sep 17, 2019 0 comments
Today I have on my workbench a brand new air quality monitor: the SMOGGIE for uRADMonitor, manufactured by the Romanian company Magnasci.

Initially developed as a radioactivity monitoring network, the uRADMonitor map now offers the possibility of viewing several environmental parameters. At present, the map can show different environmental parameters (temperature, humidity, pressure), PM2.5 and PM10 particle pollution, VOC levels, formaldehyde, and CO2.

The data is gathered by various proprietary sensor nodes. One can buy sensors ranging from the low-cost, radiation-only sensor uRADMonitor model KIT1 and up to the very complex (and expensive) INDUSTRIAL model, which can measure up to 12 environmental parameters.

Recently, Magnasci’s product range expanded with the SMOGGIE, an air quality monitor that measures PM1.0, PM2.5, PM10 particle levels, temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. For 110$ DDU, it’s also the cheapest in the uRADMonitor sensor range.

The Smoggie

The SMOGGIE is one of the smallest air quality monitors that ever landed on my workbench. The sensor features one PMSA003 digital universal particle concentration sensor from Plantower, over which a custom PCB was fitted, featuring one BME280 weather sensor and one WeMos D1 Mini ESP8266 module.

SMOGGIE sensor - top view

Together with the sensor, I have also received a USB cable and a small USB charger used as a power supply.

The sensor is small enough to (almost )fit into a gray end-cap used for plumbing. A gray bracket, also designed for plumbing installations, is used to fix the sensor onto a wall.



If you got this version, it might be a good idea to use a different case. The enclosure pictured below is from TFA Dostmann and costs about 12 euros on Amazon.de.


In the mean time the Smoggie has received a better enclosure. Below there are some pictures I have received from Radu Motisan:



 

The good, the bad and the ugly

In many aspects, the sensor follows the same philosophy as the luftdaten.info. It also uses ESP8266, and it has particle and weather sensors.

The PMSA003 sensor has an MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) rating of over three years. Unfortunately, in the current software version, the sensor’s fan runs almost all the time; it stops only when data is sent to the uRADMonitor map.

As a comparison, in the luftdaten.info node, the fan runs only for 20 seconds for every 150-second interval between transmissions. Thus, the SMOGGIE will have a shorter lifespan.

This is solved in the latest firmware update.

By far, the most significant issue relates to IoT security: with the initial firmware, the sensor remains with AP mode activated after it’s configured. Even when it’s connected to my WiFi network, I can still see the uRADMonitor-XX network still active, where XX is the last two digits of the unit ID.

Even worse, the WiFi password is the sensor’s unit number. So, anyone can browse the uRADMonitor map, find the unit ID, then come into proximity of the sensor and connect to it. And once connected, one can mess with the sensor: the parameters in the CONFIG page can be changed. Maybe an OTA update can be triggered. Not nice.

This issue has been also addressed in the latest firmware version.

To update the sensor you will find the instructions here. To get the updated firmware version you have to send a request to uRADMonitor using their contact form.

And regarding the firmware, currently, there are no source files available, and there is no way to download the firmware. Not much to do, as I don’t want to brick the sensor while playing with it.

Installing the SMOGGIE

Configuration of the sensor requires two parameters: user-id and user-key that you will have to retrieve from the uRADMonitor dashboard before configuring the sensor.

I have received my login credentials together with the SMOGGIE. If you didn’t, then you must register first at https://www.uradmonitor.com/wordpress/wp-login.php (yes, there’s a WordPress behind this). Fun fact: the antispam question is not working; it always asks what is 2x(3+4).

Then, once logged in, go to https://www.uradmonitor.com/dashboard/. Then, go to the API tab and write down the user-id and user-key. Since you are here, this is also a good time to use the dashboard to update the geographical location of your sensor so that it will show in the correct place on the map.

uRADMonitor dashboard

Once you have the user-id and user-key, the configuration of the sensor is deceptively simple. All one has to do is connect to the uRADMonitor-XX WiFi network, where XX is the last two digits of the unit ID. The password/unit ID is on a label on the enclosure of the SMOGGIE.

Once connected, go to http://192.168.4.1. There are four parameters to set in the CONFIG page: the name and SSID of the WiFi network, the user-id, and the user-key.

That is all!

Unlike luftdaten.info, the SMOGGIE sensor can send data only to uRADMonitor. There is no integration with other online services and no other options to configure.

And, unlike the luftdaten.info, there is no .local address of the sensor node. You will have to figure which IP it uses (hint: look at the DHCP tab in your router configuration, if you know how to do it).

The uRADMonitor map provides an easy way to visualize the data:

uRADMonitor map

Finally, a small issue with the data itself: uRADMonitor does not specify under which license terms the data can be used. The data from my sensor can be downloaded as a .csv format. But who owns that data? Is it me, or is it Magnasci? And if the owner of the data is Magnasci, it would be nice to clarify the allowed use scenarios.

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