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Air Quality Monitoring with ESDK at Calderdale Industrial Museum

Street view of Calderdale Industrial Museum

Using the Environmental Sensing Development Kit to monitor the air quality in the main meeting room/café at Calderdale Industrial Museum in Halifax.


The industrial museum is run by Calderdale Industrial Museum Association (CIMA). A volunteer-led charity which was formed to bring Calderdale Industrial Museum back from the brink. The collection represents a significant part of the industry in Calderdale. Some of the machines (namely the steam engines) are made out of the area but were either used here or represent engines used here.

The museum consists of four floors. The basement covers the machine-tool industry which emerged from the needs of the textile and carpet sector, this quickly developed into supplying machine-tools around the globe. Halifax and its local area became well known for the manufacture of large machine-tools and textile / carpet machinery.

The basement also covers foundries and forges, coal and clay mining, quarrying and potteries making clay-wares.

Asquith radial drill

The main exhibits on the ground floor are in the 'power room'. We have a waterwheel (~230 years old) from Stone Mill Tannery in Sowerby Bridge, and we have four steam engines - one beam engine, a small vertical, a horizontal Newton Bean and Mitchell (Bradford) 120HP, and a Belliss & Morcom vertical (Birmingham) 250HP. We are in the process of getting a new steam boiler which will allow us to run the engines under steam. Also on the ground floor is our shop and café and a small letter press printing exhibit.

power room - engine

The first floor covers Crossley carpets, Holdsworth Moquette, Cats Eyes (Reflecting Roadstuds), Toffee wrapping, wire drawing and other industries.

Textile manufacturing

The top floor is dedicated to textiles, both pre-industrial, showing the journey from fleece to piece (to be sold in the Piece Hall) and the later industrial manufacture of cloth. There is still a lot of work to do especially on the top floor.

Come and Visit

The museum is open Saturdays from 10:00 until 16:00 (last entry at 15:00). During the school holidays, we also open on Thursdays (same times). The museum is funded with grants; and ticketed entry to the museum; £5 for adults, £4 for concession (over 60 or student under 25), children under 16 get free entry with a paying adult. We have a cafe and museum shop. Various parts of the museum, particularly the café, can be hired for independent events. During the week volunteers spend time maintaining and developing the building and exhibits.


We have a thriving education offering where schools can book visits during the week (typically Thursdays), the focus of the visit can be tailored to meet the school's curriculum needs.

Monitoring Air Quality

For some time now we have been monitoring CO2 levels as a proxy for air quality in both the office and the cafe using standalone CO2 monitors. This has been essential when planning allowing people back into the museum after the Sars-CoV-2 lockdown. Initially, we were using an ad-hoc system to record the CO2 levels on paper for later review and analysis.

CO2 Level on display

The volunteers use this data to assess air quality, whether to ventilate the room or reduce the number of occupants, minimising the chance of pathogen transmission. At present COVID rates in Calderdale are falling but the health and safety group have plans in place should the COVID situation worsen. Part of the plans involves continuous monitoring of CO2 levels.

Environmental Sensing Development Kit

We were approached by Andrew Back, one of our members, who offered us the opportunity to try the ESDK - Air Quality Monitoring Project.

ESDK being installed

We immediately knew which room to site it; the cafe/meeting room. We are finding it particularly useful when the room is hired out, or full of volunteers, it gives an at-a-glance state of the CO2 levels. People are then expected to improve ventilation by opening windows and doors; we have plans to add a more obvious alert of increased CO2 levels to ensure people react appropriately. We are planning to relocate the monitor to a better site in the room.

ESDK Display

The display is very clear and lets us view the current status on the LCD and historical data locally and remotely with DesignSpark AQ dashboard. The ESDK is providing lots of information and the DS Dashboard allows easy viewing of the data. The Sensirion SCD41 CO2 sensor in the ESDK is showing higher readings than the basic monitor mentioned above. We have noticed the TVOC changing quite radically especially when using solvents! The particulate matter sensor shows we are in quite a dusty environment (we knew this with the cleaning required) however the monitor allows us to quantify the situation.

ESDK Grafana Dashboard

Accreditation – Temperature / Humidity Monitoring

As part of museum accreditation, we have to keep records showing the stability or lack of temperature and humidity throughout the building. We used to use a number of max/min temp/humidity monitors sited around the museum, these were read weekly and the values logged manually to an excel spreadsheet. Following a discussion with the collections team, we implemented a whole building temp and humidity monitoring system with 19 nodes distributed throughout the museum. This also includes a CO2 sensor connected to the system in the office, being a confined space where people gather. The system has also been expanded to monitor the temperature in the fridge/freezers for the cafe.

The system is quite straightforward. Each node is based on a WEMOS D1 mini running Tasmota, with a small PCB carrying a Sensirion SHTC3.

Museum T/H Monitoring Node

Office configuration screen

Tasmota broadcasts the data as MQTT messages every five minutes. We then have a raspberry pi running Mosquitto MQTT broker, Node-Red, InfluxDB and Grafana.

Node-Red flows for Our Syatem

Grafana CIM Dashboard

Future Developments

We have plans to connect the ESDK via MQTT and Node-Red to our other system. It would also be helpful to have the data in the cloud and available remotely.

The ESDK has been a very useful addition to our systems letting us keep an eye on the air quality and getting people to think about COVID and air quality in general.

Matthew Ambler (Volunteer), Calderdale Industrial Museum Association

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