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EYE on NPI – Panasonic SN-GCJA5 particulate sensor #EyeOnNPI #Adafruit #Digikey @Panasonic @DigiKey

This week’s EYE on NPI (video) is particularly useful for folks who care about air quality – it’s the new SN-GCJA5 particulate sensor from Panasonic!

This compact sensor uses a laser diode to measure light scattering caused by small inhalable particles in the air. It’s great for measuring the dustiness of the air – such as that caused by smog or smoke.

Especially useful for both home and industry – if you live or work near a high-risk fire zone you know how useful this is for telling you if a filtration mask is needed.

Panasonic’s laser type PM sensor is an addition to its already broad range of specialty sensor solutions. It is comprised of an on-board microprocessor, micro-fan, and laser diode. This sensor has been programmed so that the fan will operate based on the amount of particle dust surrounding the laser diode so that overall lifespan or usefulness of the sensor can be extended much longer than its average commercially available equivalent.

Featuring a very small footprint of 37 mm x 37 mm x 12 mm, the Panasonic laser type PM sensor can be used to detect a wide variety of PM including, but not limited to, dust, fly ash, soot, smoke, aerosols, fumes, mists and condensing vapors, solid fuels, construction materials, cooking/smoking of plant matter, fireplaces and furnaces, house/forest fires, waste incineration, and much more.

A few things make this sensor stand out in a popular market. One is a dual-interface connector that supports both I2C and UART. The UART data comes in as plain text at 9600 baud, so it’s easy to parse. The I2C interface means it’s easy to use with boards that don’t have a spare hardware UART. Only thing to watch for is that the power is 5V as there’s a little fan inside that needs extra power, and the logic level is 3V so a shifter or booster may be required.

For quick testing, you can wire up a USB to Serial console cable. We used the included Windows program to quickly get data from the COM port and display it. The version of the sensor we picked up even came with a cable for easy plugging. We used some solder fumes from a handy iron to trigger the sensor into reporting a smoggy environment.

You can order this nice new sensor from Digi-Key, they’re a big distributor of all things Panasonic from batteries to capacitors. Hey, we even have a video we did with them a year ago you can watch.

Note, there are two versions – we recommend the one with the cable but you can get your own cable made to match, the connector is a JST SM05B-GHS. Either way the price is very competitive, so you can add a particulate sensor for under $20 in quantity.

Pick up a SN-GCJA5L sensor today to try out how elegant & easy it is to use!


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