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Update 29-3-16

Bit of an update on the current state of projects, things have slowed down a lot during summer as I have been working on a lot more things outside, with the weather cooling down now work on some inside/electronic projects can begin again.

The mysql, weather station and temp sensors have all been working well with now over 300,000 data points giving per minute data points on most for now just shy of twelve months.

Overall database size has grown to around 140mb for the whole set of sensors.

dbsize

The laundry fan has been installed and added to one of the relay boards and both DHT22 sensors have been mounted. One in the laundry and one in the bathroom.

Laundry Fan with DHT22
Laundry Fan with DHT22
Bathroom fan with DHT22
Bathroom fan with DHT22

The RFID system on the front door as also been working flawlessly now for almost 18 months with 1750 entries during that time.

webpage

 

The outdoor sensor array still hasn’t quite made it from it’s temp cardboard home however the final two sensors have arrived

The Sharp GP2Y1010AU0F dust sensor and the ML8511 UV sensor.Β  So now I can at least finish off the software side on the Arduino and do final testing before finding a case and mounting it outside.

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Doorbell camera has also stopped working. Not sure if it’s just a corrupt SD-Card in the Raspberry Pi if it’s gotten a bit too hot over summer and cooked, going to take it down in the next few days and find out.

Another project that has been collecting dust for a while now is a MAME arcade machine I started sometime back. Needs a couple of new joysticks, a tidy up and probably a new PC to drive it as the one in there is a little under powered and generates a lot of heat.

Some cable management would go astray either πŸ˜›

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Lounge 5.1 sound Part 1

After putting up with crappy TV sound for years I finally got around to getting the 5.1 system (mostly) setup.

In order to keep the lounge neat I decided to keep all the AV gear in the rack and just run HDMI over CAT5 which will require me to get a new receiver with HDMI switching eventually. It’s not a huge problem currently as I mostly use just the Raspberry Pi for my media needs.

Top amp is the sub amp and bottom is the current 5.1 receiver which lacks HDMI unfortunately.

av-amps

Let the crawling through roofs begin…

cablespool

I purchased wall plates with banana plugs for each speaker to allow easy changing of speakers if I desire and for a clean install.

faceplate

subcon

 

Here is the front of the room as it stands, front LR speakers are left over from an old stereo as is the current centre speaker.

The centre speaker I will replace but the front LR have proven to work quite well.

The sub’s are custom 12″ boxes made by a friend that are only there temporally as I haven’t quite figured out how I wish to incorporate the subwoofer(s) in a neat fashion. Perhaps a semi false wall on the bottom half or the likes.

speakershung

 

I still have to run the cables for the rear speakers (ran out of cable) and figure out the best looking way to build a nice subwoofer enclosure to try and keep the neat(ish) look of the system.

Pirate Chest Esky

For something completely different I thought I’d share a recent woodworking project, building a Pirate themed esky.

Recent got a lot of pine from a local business that was closing down.

Unfortunately I don’t have much in the way of pictures of the build of the basic box part but the timber was just docked to size glued and then nailed together.

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Next came the lid which the slats were made from off cuts of another project that provided a almost perfect size to make a decent curve.

After gluing and nailing the top slats they were then cut to length with a jigsaw.

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After a quick sand to roughly merge the slats together some stain was applied. (The slats have been left looking somewhat rough as I feel it give more authentic feel of being a rough chest.

A set of hinges and a clasp and staple latch were added after a quick coat of black spray paint.

The corner pieces are the metal pieces used on timber stacks to stop the strapping cutting into the timber. After a coat of paint and drilling some holes I think they make for some nice additions.

corner protector

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A storage tub was used as the esky part of the build with some chains added to stop the lid opening too far.

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There are a few more things I want to do on it including adding some insulation between the wood and the tub. As it stands the air gap seems to keep things cool pretty well however.

Also a central drain plug and fixing up the chains as they catch on occasion.

 

New domain

I previously have been using some hosting provided to me but it has become time to get my own domain. All new content will be posted here.

Just finishing off a number of projects so expect some new content soon πŸ™‚

Quick look VoCore

Had a package arrive the other month with my VoCore which was a project I baked on Indiegogo a while back.

The VoCore is a tiny computer running OpenWRT with a 360mhz processor and 32MB of RAM and 16MB of flash with built in Wi-Fi, two 100mbs network cards, USB and 28 GPIO ports.

Perfect for projects that have limited room or that require WiFi.

I knew the board was small but really didn’t think it would be as small as it is, here it is next to a USB stick:

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The size (and my soldering skills) made soldering connectors onto the board quite a challenge.

They do make a dock for it which breaks out the USB and Ethernet connectors but prettyΒ  much doubles the price of the unit.

Initial configuration is done over serial with the provided USB-TTL converter but first power and serial lines have to be soldered on.

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As you can see my soldering skills aren’t the best on these small pitch connectors I will have to redo them before I use the unit in a permanent installation.

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After firing the unit up and connection via serial I reconfigured the wireless to operate in client mode and connect to my home Wi-Fi and was then able to connect via SSH:

vocore-login

My intention is to use this board with a USB Relay board to operate my garage door as well as other projects out the front of the house, this saves having to get a cable from the house into the garage which would be a nightmare.

Future projects may also include Wi-Fi connected appliances such as washing machine, dryer, kettle and the likes due to the small size, GPIO pins and cheap price.

Update 1-7-2015

Bit of an update, I’ve done more work on the back end and data collection and have ordered parts to begin a outdoor sensor array to compliment the weather station.

First upgrade was to my NAS which runs unRAID which previously had VirtualBox running on top of it to run the Webserver and Windows 7 VM for the home automation. The new version of unRAID includes the KVM visualization solution.

After updating unRAID and converting the VirtualBox images over everything was back up and running all with a nice web interface:

unraidvm

 

This allows for much easier control of the VM’s as well as start/shutdown with the NAS.

Two new data sources have been added to the system the first being the data from my front door RFID system which unfortunately doesn’t have a direct interface with mysql (it uses access) so I found a program that pulls data from msaccess into mysql here which I configured to poll every hour and insert into mysql.

This has been added to the web interface which now shows the Doorbell as well as the RFID data:

doors

Clicking into RFID gives the last 20 entries/exits allowing a quick view of who has been home over the last few days.

The second data source is CPU temperature from the Doorbell Raspberry Pi which was mostly out of curiosity but also to see how the Raspberry Pi was holding up to living outside.

I used a Python script to poll the data every 5 minutes and insert it into mysql, you can download the script here.

Below is a graph of the Pi temperature over a 24 hour period:

doorbellpigraph

And the added page for the sensor:

doorbellpi

Few changes to the internal web interface to show number of records for each sensor as well as min/max/avg of both temperature and humidity from each sensor:

tempreadings

minmaxavg

Mostly minor changes but gives a bit more info on everything.

 

I’ve ordered parts to build a outdoor sensor array which will be based off an Arduino with Ethernet shield and the following sensors:

DHT22 – Temperature and humidity

MQ-9 – Carbon Monoxide and Combustible gas sensor

BMP180 – Barometric pressure

ML8511 – UV level sensor

I may add a few other air quality sensors as well over time, this will be added to the data from the weather station and uRAD monitor data to give a good overview of outside conditions.

Update 21-5-15

Just a bit of a quick update on everything:

After running alright for about a month the Raspberry Pi in the doorbell locked up a few times and then stopped booting, from what I can tell my estimation of voltage drop over the PoE setup may have been a bit off and fed the Pi a bit too much voltage so I’ve bought a LM2596S step down voltage regulator off eBay and will run 12v over the PoE and then regulated 5v into the mini USB of the Pi.

Doorbell system is now back up and running and hopefully should remain stable now.

Voltage Regulator
Voltage Regulator

 

I’ve done a bit more work on the internal house website to add the ability to quickly see the pictures taken from the doorbell camera as well as current data from my uRAD Monitor.
It gives a good overview of current weather,Β  sensor data and last ring of the doorbell. As more sensors are added I’ll add them in here. Clicking on each of the sensors brings up the last 100 entries and clicking the front door brings up the last 20 doorbell presses.

uRAD Monitor section give the current radiation counts per minute as well as an average and the links below create graphs showing CPM vs wind, rain fall and temp/humidity.

Updated House web page
Updated House web page
Last 20 doorbell presses
Last 20 doorbell presses

The software that came with the weather station was pretty basic so I got Weather Display which is much more powerful and can export data directly into mysql as well as upload to a website, etc.

Weather Display
Weather Display

I’ve found the wireless from the weather station to be a bit unreliable hopefully just due to some flat batteries.

I’ve added new graphs to match weather data with radiation data from my uRAD Monitor, you can see flat sections in the graph where the weather station has not reported back correctly:

Rain vs CPM
Rain vs CPM
Temp and Humidity vs CPM
Temp and Humidity vs CPM
Wind speed and gust speed vs CPM
Wind speed and gust speed vs CPM

 

A bit more work has been done with the home automation system. I replaced the 4 channel relay board with an 8 channel board which will do low voltage operations (12v/5v) and have re-purposed the 4 channel board for 240v switching as to keep LV and HV separate.

This has allowed adding of several more devices without buying expensive Insteon modules for each device.

Here are the different “rooms” in HCA now:

Kitchen
Kitchen
Lounge
Lounge
Bathroom
Bathroom
Backyard
Backyard

The front yard “room” now also includes buttons to capture and email a picture from the doorbell camera as well as start a live stream as seen below:

Front yard
Front yard
Captured picture sent via E-Mail
Captured picture sent via E-Mail

Currently finishing off the 5.1 system in the lounge and after that work will begin on expanding the rack to a floor to ceiling 19″ rack.

Insteon Thermostat

With winter on the way and the temperature dropping I thought it about time to upgrade my thermostat to allow a bit more control, especially good on those days you don’t want to get out of bed just to turn on the heater.

I was keen on getting a NEST however the $300+ price tag seemed a bit much just for a thermostat so I settled on the Insteon Thermostat which will link in with my other Insteon gear.

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The first step was to run a new wire to the thermostat as the current one only uses two wires (+24 and Heat) wheres the Insteon Thermostat requires +24, common, heat and fan (and cooling if used)

For this reason it pays to check both your thermostat and also the heater control board as the “dumb” base thermostats may not use all the wires available even if they are present (Heater was not listed as being compatible based on the thermostat but works fine with the extra wires connected)

I pulled a length of CAT5 from the heater to the thermostat and set about rewiring the heater, lucky enough the manufacturer was nice enough to put the wiring diagram on the control board:

heaterwiring

As you can hopefully see below I’ve replaced the old wiring with CAT5 using four terminals now rather than two.

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And then matched up on the Insteon Thermostat:

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And up and running πŸ™‚

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Setup with the Insteon hub and app was easy. Open the app -> add device -> thermostat. App will inform you to hold the Set button on the thermostat till it beeps then the two sync up. After it’s done you are presented with this screen allowing control:

Screenshot_2015-04-21-18-14-23

I then setup wake, leave, return and sleep programs for week days so the heater will come on just before my alarm, switch off as I’m leaving, turn back on as I’m leaving work and shut off when I go to bed.

Programming details were not included in the quick start guide in the box and I had to find a PDF of them on the Insteon website, I’ve uploaded a copy here.

Now to wait till morning and see if I wake up nice and warm πŸ™‚

Weather Station

Been a good fortnight for deliveries it seems, my weather station arrived this morning πŸ™‚

The unit is just a cheap station (~$90 eBay) but provides wind speed/direction, rain fall, temp, humidity and air pressure as well as a USB connection to pull data into a PC and should have enough accuracy for what I need.

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Got the unit unpacked and put together and begun some testing:

Test Setup
Test Setup

The included software is rather simple but does include an upload function which can be used with Weather Underground for their PWS system or to a custom PHP, JSP, ASP file which I will use to import the data to my mysql system.

This will allow me to graph data from my radiation monitor, my own temp/humidity sensors and weather data.

Easyweather Software
Easyweather Software

 

After testing the unit worked correctly I set about mounting the hardware. The station I’ve mounted to my antenna poll on the roof giving it good height from the surrounding houses, etc and the display has been mounted next to my thermostat allowing easy viewing and a short distance to run the USB cable to my NAS for data collection.

Next step is to write a PHP script to interpret the data from the unit and store it in my database.

Mounted on the wall
Mounted on the wall

 

I’ve also ordered an Insteon Thermostat which should hopefully arrive in the next couple of days allowing my to control the heating/cooling in the house πŸ™‚