UK Robotics week – The Fumifugiums Orchestra wins a prize!

The Fumifugiums Orchestra was one of the winning entrants in the the UK Robotics Week 2020 Environment Making Challenge with SERAS (Skills and Robotics for Autonomous systems.)


Entrants were challenged with designing solutions using IoT (Internet of Things) for environmental problems.

SERAS is a consortium of  Universites, Non-profit and commercial companies whose aim is to encourage and improve STEM skills and uptake for a future where these skills will become increasingly.

Family and Teen workshops – photos

 * Update March 2020: The last Family and Teen Workshops were cancelled due to Covid-19


The Family Day Workshops


On the Family Day we started to make the instruments out of materials such as air-ducting and car exhaust manifolds. We started to wire them in preparation to receive the electronic musical instruments made at the ‘Teen electronic workshops’.


Fumi Instrument
A wearable instrument made with air ducting

Fumifugium instrument

Fumifugium Instrument
Fumi wind instrument made with air ducting.

Fumifugium air - instrument
‘Air instrument’ starting to be wired up for electronic music element.

car exhaust manifold
Exhaust manifold being wired up ready for the electronic element.


The Teen Electronic Workshops

We made an amplifier and speaker and a simple electronic instrument called a VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) that will be integrated into the instruments made at the Family Workshops Days.

2020-03-15 13.08.27Schematic for amplifier and Speaker

A day in the life of the pollution monitors.


Below is a typical day of data received from the four monitors (PDF’s). Each monitor took readings at different intervals, ranging from every second to every 30 seconds.

The files give readings of both PM2.5, which is the particulate size considered to be not good for your health. Also there is the PM10 range which is pollen size range.

What you can see is how the readings vary throughout the day. The government monitors give an average over 24 hours for their readings, I thought it would be interesting to see how this splits, so you can see the ‘higher highs’ and ‘lower lows’.

Overall as it was mostly winter the ranges were not as high as one would see in the summer. Sometimes you can see ‘waves’ of passing pollution due to the closeness of the readings, it would be interesting to know what these were, perhaps a badly tuned car or lorry for instance.

I am still going through the files and will continue to upload ones of interest.

A typical day – 19th December 2019.


Monitor One 


Monitor Two:


Monitor Three


Monitor Four


Below is a chart giving the ranges of PM2.5 from  UK DEFRA . (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs UK);  

PM2.5 Particles

Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Band Low Low Low Moderate Moderate Moderate High High High Very High
µgm-3 0-11 12-23 24-35 >36-41 >42-47 >48-53 54-58 59-64 65-70 71 or more







The Fumifugium Orchestra: Free electronic workshops for teens at Maxilla Studios

* Update 17 March 2020: These workshops have been suspended *

Rachael is currently inviting local teens to collaborate on a new environmental electronic project. Each session participants will learn how to make a different electronic component using found objects which will eventually form part of the Fumifugium Orchestra.

Sunday 15th March, 11am–1pm and 2pm–4pm
Sunday 22nd March, 11am–1pm

Create a microphone out of tin-cans
Build a music amplifier and speaker
Create an instrument controlled by light

ACAVA Maxilla Studios W10 6NQ


Free Family Days Workshops!

* Update 17 March 2020: The last workshop has been suspended *



Saturday 14th March, 11am–1pm
Saturday 14th March, 2pm–4pm
Saturday 21st March, 11am–1pm
Saturday 21st March, 2pm–4pm

Build a giant musical instrument played with air pollution data collected by local families.
Draw with an unique ink made from ail pollution!

ACAVA Maxilla Studios W10 6NQ

About ‘The Westway’ – A40

2018-07-07 06.04.37

The project is based around The Westway, in particular the region between Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road Underground stations.

The Westway is a 2.5-mile (4 km) elevated dual carriageway section of the  A40 in West London, running from Paddington in the east to North Kensington in the west. It connects the London Inner Ring Road to West London suburbs.

The road was constructed between 1962 and 1970 to connect the proposed London Ringways motorway scheme to Paddington, and opened as the A40(M). It was the first urban motorway project in London and attracted criticism for the lack of care over the environment, the well-being of local residents and communities, and handling those whose homes would be demolished. Road protests increased following its opening.

The road has become a significant London landmark and has been noted in several works of popular culture. It is referred to in J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash. The following year’s Concrete Island was set in a junction between motorways, one of which is the Westway.

The Clash referred to the road in “London’s Burning”, and the group’s Joe Strummer described their music as “the sound of the Westway”. The group’s documentary ‘Westway to the World’ is named after the road.

(source = Wikipedia) 2018-07-07-06.23.36

The air-pollution particulate monitors

A set of four air pollution monitors were placed with families in the vicinitiy of the Westway A40 near Latimer Road Underground Station.

These are the air pollution monitors we used. The monitor works by detecting tiny particles in the air which it then counts as it goes through a laser beam.

The monitors are run on Raspberry Pi’s and the data is calculated on a computer program especially commissioned for the project.

The data being received. PM2.5 on the screen relates to the particulate size that is considered most detrimental to health.

The placement of one of the raspberry pi, the monitor goes outside as you can see below.

One of the monitors was placed outside my studio situated directly under the Westway.

Below are some of the others in their outdoor casings including one with a fabulous view over the Westway!