Seismometers have been around for nearly 200 years. Some historical instruments show that designs can be very simple. The earliest seismic sensors were just simple pendulums that swung when a nearby earthquake occurred.
You can make your own simple seismometer from Lego and a metal spring. The mass on the sensor will stay still (due to its inertia) when the ground moves, this relative motion can then be converted to a voltage with a coil and a magnet.
Users in education can make their own version of the BGS Lego seismometer under a Creative Commons licence. See Terms and conditions below for further details.
Using a piece of 500 micron card or plastic as a spacer, the hinge is made from double thickness of tape.
The spring is held tight between two 2x4 LEGO bricks.
The hinge unit is added at this stage.
The hinged armature is added to the base.
The other end of the spring is bent over and clamped between two 1x8 LEGO bricks.
Finally, a weight is added so that the sensor is balanced and free to move.
For further details go to seismometers, software & datalogging.
Non-commercial users can make their own version of the BGS Lego seismometer under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
This licence means that non-commercial users are free to:
But, if you publish a copy, you must adhere to the following terms
Attribution — You must give appropriate creditPlease acknowledge as: 'British Geological Survey (or BGS) Lego seismometer.' to the British Geological Survey, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were madeIn licence version 4.0, you must indicate if you modified the material and retain an indication of previous modifications.. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
Non-commercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposesA commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation. without prior written agreement.
The LEGO sensor at Hazel Community Primary School, Leicester, has also been busy recording signals from distant earthquakes .
For comparison, images are shown alongside data from the BGS professional seismometer CWF located in a quiet vault in Charnwood Forest near Loughborough.
Contact Paul Denton, UK School Seismology project leader, for further information.