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Showing posts from 2016

The writing's on the wall

For the last couple of jobs I've had, having some sort of status display has proved itself really useful. Things like an overloaded nagios dashboard help to drill down to see what system issues you may have, but on large systems there'll always be some component that's not green (however your service should work around these transparently to the end user).  In a smaller team without 24/7 operations staff and shift handovers, how do you know things aren't on fire when you walk into the office? - I'll ignore the fact that you probably read your email over breakfast.

Concerto At $job[-1] we put a spare monitor on the office wall and ran concerto on a PC feeding it. The backend at that time was php, and made assumptions such as assuming that short tags were OK - I hacked on a branch to make it more standard with the scientific linux systems we were using at the time. Given this was (is?) a student project out of the Rensselaer Institute ir's hardly suprising as you…

The Physical Web. Yeah, thats a good idea.

In the last week I've discovered the Physical Web from google, and I'm sold on the idea. Apart from the "what's around here" geeky stuff, it's a great idea for sensible 'distant' digital signage. For example, $dayjob is at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, but we don't plaster our URL over the visitor area - what if guests could be gently prompted to the right URL by beacon?

Again tonight (while watching WASO play the Indiana Jones score) I noticed a set of three A3 posters explaining to users of another part of the conference centre how to connect to wifi and download <exhibit> app. This isn't even Scott Jensen's complaint of a 'dos prompt on the browser' - it's more a dig out the index card from the library, then go to the dos prompt...


All around the water tank, waiting for the rain...

Having the luxury of mains water means that I don't really care in fanatical detail about the state of the dam water levels for Perth (except that "it's lower than it should really be"). However with our new place being entirely dependant on rainwater collection off the roof into storage tanks, I'd like to know the levels of the various tanks (and therefore the volume remaining).
So, what's available - simplest is knocking on the side of the tank and guessing from the sound how full. Not terribly reliable or hi-tech, but is cheap. Dipstick also cheap, but requires removing filter cover. Next up are external gauges - Our tank supplier stocks the Yaktek Levetator, but that's not really any good when I'm not on site. Hence, it's time to investigate the electronic options:
This thread on whirlpool mentions the Electrosense Aquagauge, but at $265 each plus telemetry thats not cheap. The Jaycar ultrasonic onemay be OK, but as it doesn't have a serial…

Traffic Light status IoT device

Following on from an all-too-regular "Is the lasercutter working?" mail thread at our local hackerspace, I've decided to come up with a nice simple IoT 'traffic light' device.


Plan is to use KISS principles and have 3 big pushbuttons (Red, Amber, Green) that light up (and stay lit) so that the next person knows if machine needs maintenance/ misbehaving slightly / all good.


Using something like an ESP8266 module (hello Wemos D1), this could trivially publish the status to a broker, and then be acted on elsewhere - updating status on website etc
Next up, finding a local supplier of parts to start a prototype at the next Arduino-U night.

Growatt inverter monitoring with Raspberry Pi

At home we have a small (2.5KW - 10*250w panels) PV system to try and offset our daytime electricity usage. This is connected to a 'Growatt' inverter that handily has both RS485 (wierd 2 pin plugs) and RS232 (9 pin D connector buried under a screwplate) outputs.

With the firmware on ours (installed Sept 2013) it supports modbus-rtu over serial 9600 8N1.

I had done some initial digging and experimentation (as announced on Whirlpool) but never really got sensible values out.When my guruplug (via a long USB to serial adaptor) finally died and I shelved the whole thing. With the completion of the structured wiring though I finally got round to reconnecting it and starting again.

Small D9 Gender changer, + cisco console cable (all hail fleabay) gives a nice neat look on the outside, and in the garage I have another console cable plugged into the relevant patch outlet and a cheap usb-serial adaptor in a Raspberry Pi (which also has a GPS module connected, acting as a PPS NTP master)