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This Raspberry Pi seismograph can be used as an early warning system for earthquakes

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It’s sensitive enough to measure the tremors caused by nearby footsteps

If you live in an earthquake danger zone, you’re probably already familiar with what to expect and how to keep safe. But if you want to ramp up your earthquake preparedness (or if you’re an amateur seismologist on a budget) this add-on for the Raspberry Pi could be perfect for you. An update to last year’s Raspberry Shake, the new Raspberry Shake 4D — now raising funds on Kickstarter — adds more sensors for extra sensitivity.

Mike Hotchkiss, one of the creators of the Shake, told The Verge over email that the new Shake is fully compatible with EEW (early earthquake warning) systems. He says that traditional seismographs cost thousands of dollars, while the Shake 4D — which offers similar responsiveness — retails for just $500, with an early-bird price on Kickstarter for $300.

“This price points makes it possible for researchers, scientists, institutes and government organizations to have thousands of units for the same price as acquiring tens of the traditional earthquake monitors,” says Hotchkiss. “There are no special or costly installation requirements and you do not need a trained seismologist to run the installations. Just set it down, plug it in and done!”

For an idea of how sensitive this equipment can be, check out the video below of last year’s Shake being used to identify the denomination of a coin being dropped on a table, just by the size of the tremor it makes:

The original Raspberry Shake has already been adopted by professional seismologists, including the Oklahoma Geological Survey, which bought 100 to add to the coverage of its EEW network. However, Hotchkiss says people find all sorts of uses for the device:

“We have found that many of our home users become ‘Shakers’ for many reasons. Fracking and waste water injection has been a motivator for some people, as once relatively quiet regions like Oklahoma have started to experience significant Earth motion on a daily basis. Others, use their device to check out some fun things that surprisingly shake things up a little, like rush hour traffic, cheering at a concert or football game and, of course, their washing machines spin cycle!”