3 DIY Arduino Projects to Make Outdoor Play Safer This Summer – MakeUseOf


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Most kids would agree that summer is the best season for outdoor play. When the sun is shining and the birds are singing, gardens and parks can feel like serene places. But do you ever wonder what dangers the outside world could hold?

Of course you do. This offers a good opportunity to get stuck into a techy DIY project that will benefit your children, particularly if you’re interested in Arduinos. Join us as we explore a range of DIY Arduino projects that can help to make outdoor play safer this summer.

1. Air Quality Monitoring

How clean is the air in your city or town? Many people are unaware of the pollution that surrounds them in their daily lives, especially if they live in an area with a lot of traffic or industry. But while pollution is often invisible, you can still find fun ways to measure it at home.

Arduinos can work with an array of different sensors while also outputting basic information to displays. This makes them the ideal choice as the microcontroller for your air quality monitor, but you will also need some additional parts.

  • PM2.5 Sensor: PM2.5 sensors measure particulate matter in the air with a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers.
  • CO2 Sensor: CO2 is always in the atmosphere, but this can breach safe levels in areas with a lot of vehicles.
  • VOC Sensor: VOC materials come from a variety of sources, including diesel engines.
  • Ozone Sensor: Ozone molecules are made of three oxygen atoms, but they are toxic to humans.
  • Temperature & Humidity Sensor: While not directly related to air quality, it makes sense to measure the temperature and humidity when your kids play outside.

Putting these components together with a custom PCB can give you a reliable air quality monitor. You can power a device like this with a battery bank, making it possible to leave it outside while the kids play. This project can be completed with an inexpensive Arduino Pro Mini.

2. UV Light Index

Earth’s proximity to the sun makes life possible on our planet. At the same time, though, the sun can also pose a serious risk to your health. Overexposure to UV light will cause sunburn in mild cases, but when prolonged it can be much worse.

Measuring the UV Light levels on a sunny day can give you a good idea of when your children need more sun lotion or should get into the shade. What’s best is that you can make a device like this with a handful of inexpensive components.

  • Arduino UNO: You likely already have an UNO lying around, but you could also use a smaller Arduino board like a Pro Micro for this project.
  • UV Sensor: A UV Sensor will enable you to measure the UV levels outside your home.
  • Temperature & Humidity Sensor: Much like the Air Quality Monitor project, you can include temperature and humidity readings with this device.
  • LCD Screen: An LCD screen will give you a read-out and a warning level for the UV light outside your home.

Being able to protect your kids from sunburn will save a lot of uncomfortable evenings for your kids. A simple device like this can prove to be incredibly valuable during summer, and making it will give you a chance to learn more about UV light.

3. Water/Sun Lotion Reminders

Do you ever find yourself forgetting to reapply sun lotion on your children’s skin? It’s only natural; it can be hard to keep track of time when the sun is shining and you have a chance to relax. Like someone who needs regular doses of medicine, you can create a reminder for this.

You will need a range of components for a project like this. The stars of the show are an Arduino UNO, an LCD display, and an RTC DS3231 clock module. You can set this up to give you reminders to provide both sun lotion and regular drinks of water to your children while they play outside.

We’ve already explored the dangers of UV light when the sun is shining, but you should also have hydration on your mind. Your kids will need plenty of water when they are playing and sweating in the sun.

Additional Tips and Advice

Creating projects like this with Arduinos and breadboards can be a fun way to learn. When you want something to be a functional device, though, you need to take a few extra steps. This section will show you how to turn your prototype Arduino projects into tools that can be used outside for the best effect.


Soldering is a valuable skill for any techy tinkerer. Being able to solder your wires and components will create longer-lasting devices that won’t need regular repairs. All three of these projects will benefit from using soldered circuits, rather than jumper cables.

Cases and Enclosures

With a project soldered and ready for use, it will be time to find a case for it. Acrylic and stand-offs make great sandwich enclosures for PCBs and other components. You will only need a drill and some pre-cut pieces of acrylic for this, making it easy to create a simple case. Using a rotary tool and drill to cut a metal Hammond box could also make a good case.

If you have a 3D printer and some patience, designing your own case will be the best way to make a device that feels finished. It’s important to keep your sensors in mind when you’re designing your case, as they won’t be able to measure anything if they’re sealed away.


Each of these projects can be powered by a USB cable. This gives you a couple of options if you want to keep them on for long periods. A long USB cable to a power outlet or PC will work well, though this could create a tripping hazard.

Battery banks will be better. Using a product like this will enable you to avoid the daunting process of soldering batteries, giving you a USB connection to use instead.

Making Outdoor Play Safer With Technology

Having the chance to play outdoors is important for children of all ages. It can help to relieve stress, stimulate their brain, and will help to keep them healthy. Making this safer than ever before with your favorite DIY tech is just the cherry on top.



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About The Author

Samuel L. Garbett
(2 Articles Published)

From Samuel L. Garbett

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