We live pretty close to the rail tracks, and for a long time I wanted to create a system that is capable of measuring the vibrations of the trains passing by. I tried to do it using the Sudden Motion Sensor built into an old MacBook Pro, but I don't think it correctly detects the type of frequency caused by trains passing by.

Also, a MacBook Pro is not exactly the type of hardware that you would use to put sensors in multiple places. ;) So I'm wondering if there is a (hopefully) USB device or some other device that I can connect to my Pi to measure what's happening.

  • Could you do this with a simple piezo? I'd guess (n.b., I haven't actually used one yet, I just have them in a drawer) that this won't work for unadulterated ground vibration, but if there's some structure (e.g. wood or metal furniture) that raises the frequency, it might. Maybe like a piezo firmly attached to a much larger but thin sheet of metal.
    – goldilocks
    May 22 '15 at 16:26
  • Best bet is to invest in a low end seismic probe. You can look on ebay for some used ones. These cheap piezo things are only good for tap detection on an object it is not sensitive enough to pick up building vibrations. I found a decent probe for about $150 (new price over £1000) You only need 1 because they are very sensitive- They will also pick up everybody walking around so you will have to filter that data out.
    – Piotr Kula
    Nov 24 '16 at 8:53

I'd try a sensor such as the ADXL345 which has an I2C/SPI interface and so may be read by the Pi.

You may be able to read the raw data from your MacBook. See http://www.suitable.com/tools/seismac.html

  • I am actually doing that. (Well, In reality I'm using smsutil, which is included in SMSLib, and then wrote a little wrapper around it. But MacBook Pros are expensive sensors.) May 22 '15 at 15:13

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