01 Mar




My 555 contest submission is an Earthquake Controlled Oscillator (ECO).


---------- UPDATE ----------
In my haste to get this project submitted I neglected to include its purpose. Terremoto is an art project to allow participants to experience earthquakes around the world. It is an engineers attempt to demonstrate how connected we really are.


This project has recently been incorrectly reported as an alert system. I apologize for this error as it is apparent to me that one might easily come to that conclusion after reading my post. This concept or its implementation is not and should not be used as a safety system.
---------- UPDATE ----------


The USGS maintains a server online that consolidates all the seismic data received from sensors all around the world. Terremoto uses an LPCXpresso board and an XPORT AR Ethernet module to query the USGS server for a list of earthquake activity. When a new earthquake is received by Terremoto, tones are generated that correlate with the magnitude of the earthquake.

The higher the magnitude the more tones used and a faster tempo.


The ECO is based on a 555 in astable mode with a resistor network to set the tones. NPN transistors are used as switches to switch in more or less resistance.


At first I was not sure how to query the USGS server to access the feed I needed. I immediately downloaded cURL to find out what I needed to send to the server. Turns out it was only a few short strings (very simple).


The feeds are located at:


The feed I am using is:




Earthquake Controlled Oscillator


cURL USGS server


If there is any interest in the firmware send me a message on Twitter (@roteno) and I'll post it to the website.


Future Development: (I always like to write down what I would change on a project if I were to do it again so here goes)

1) come up with a better music algorithm
2) maybe use linear actuators and bells
3) add a low pass filter to soften the edges a bit on the square wave
4) perhaps use this project with other feeds (Twitter searches, stocks, breaking news)