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Air Sampler Device, Part-2

In this post on the Air Sampler Device, we will discuss the operation, features and development of the device. Read the first post in this series that describes who we built the device for and why. The “Air Sampler Device”, commonly known as a “Volatile Collection Device” is used  by ecologists and environmentalists. The first product was used to collect volatile chemicals released by plants to attract pollinators. This device can also be easily adapted for environmentalists to collect samples of vapour-phase volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in ambient air.


After we discussed the requirements with the TrEE lab at the Dept. of Biological Sciences, IISER Bhopal, we decided to make some design changes so as to increase precision in flow control and added features, which we believe made the device more user friendly (see the comparison table below)


feature comparison
Custom-made device vs Existing Device

During this project we came across the two major issues of the supply-chain of electronics raw material in India which a hardware startup like us is bound to face sooner or later.


Availability of air pumps with required specs


It was the major concern for us because no Indian supplier (local and online) had the pumps that met our required specifications (3-6V DC operation, 1l/min flow-rate and both inlet-outlet options). Some of local suppliers even had air pumps which looked like scrap pumps imported from china (rusted, old, with no specifications).


The only choice we had was to order the pumps from China, without any previous feedback of the supplier and paying almost double the price for shipping and custom duty. This is a common problem that new hardware startups face during the product development phase.





Finding Enclosures

Since the device will be used mostly in the forests and tropical areas, the enclosure had to be tough and waterproof. But we could not manufacture the boxes specifically for this product with such low order quantity. Therefore, going with readymade boxes was the logical and economical option. We had to experiment with many vendors and available options to finally find the supplier who could provide good quality enclosures in low numbers.



Enclosures of diiferent size and shapes that we experimented with
Enclosures that we experimented with

After multiple iterations of the product, we settled on an enclosure that provided the water proof standard we aimed to achieve and was small enough to be easily carried around in the field. Here is a comparison of the enclosure when during the prototyping phase and the final product


Air sampler prototype vs final product
Comparison: Prototype and the Final Product

The device is currently being used for ecological studies. We are eagerly waiting for feedback on the device from the TrEE lab. If you are interested in a similar device, hardware product development in general, reach out to us at connect@softcircuits.in. Please visit our website for more information on the services we provide and products we develop.

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