How-To: Build a Seismic Reflector

How-To: Build a Seismic Reflector



Living in the UK, Jim hadn’t experienced an earthquake firsthand. After watching recent quakes unfold in Indonesia, he decided to create a device that would keep him aware of the Earth’s seismic events. His Seismic Reflector uses a Processing-based software monitor which feeds data to very motorized Arduino –

The aim is to build a device which responds to earthquakes being reported in near-real time via the USGS RSS feeds. The device responds by illustrating the magnitude of the reported earthquake via two fairly chunky vibration motors of the kind used in video game controllers. The device is connected to a PC via a virtual com port over USB (thanks to an on board Arduino). On the PC, an application sits there checking the RSS feed periodically and when a new event it posted to the RSS feed, the desktop app parses the data out of it and presents the magnitude of the quake to the Arduino which interpreters this as rate at which to activate the vibration motors.

I’d just like to stress that this project is about empathising in some small way with victims of earthquakes.  I’m not trying to make light of peoples anguish or suffering, and I’m not trying to play on peoples fears of an impending “big one”.  I do not experience many earthquakes where I live, but I know a lot of people around the world (specifically around the Med and the Pacific) do.  This is my attempt to understand that feeling a bit better.

Check out the Seismic Reflector instructable for details.

In the Maker Shed:



MotorShield for Arduino Kit

10 thoughts on “How-To: Build a Seismic Reflector

  1. Shadyman says:

    Pretty cool :)

  2. Dave Bell says:

    Fun, but it’s a sad commentary on people’s emotional responses, that you needed to include that disclaimer about empathy. None required, in my estimation…

  3. Anonymous says:

    The UK has more earthquakes most people realise, thankfully they usually aren’t that powerful

  4. blubrick says:

    I’ve never lived in a seismically active area, but I really don’t think that distilling all the world’s seismic events into the action of a couple of vibrating motors would suffice. I would end up looking forward to the device “going off”, rather than living in fear of it.

    I suspect that to get even an inkling of what it might be to live in fear of an earthquake, data from one location should be monitored and the actuators need to cause discomfort commensurate to the intensity and duration of the quake – perhaps by using an alarm siren or even the mechanism from one of those novelty electric shock toys.

    1. zeni says:

      It seems very similar to an old project made for Arse Elektronika, minus the dildo:

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