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46  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: December 06, 2013, 07:46:24 pm
They implemented the SteelSeries gauges also, you can stick one on a dashboard and have a cool indicator.
47  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: December 03, 2013, 01:03:30 am
Glad you folk were able to get it working.  I really like grovestream.  Check the billing under your account (upper right corner somewhere) because they calculate charges based on transactions.  I think my bill came to two bucks or so which I think is very reasonable for the level of service.  I could actually lower that to nothing if I condensed the transactions.  See, they allow multiple updates within a single transaction, so I could buffer things for 15 minutes and send it all at once, reducing my transaction count by a factor of fifteen since I'm doing every minute so far.  Heck, just save up two of them reducing it by half, and I would easily fall below the 10,000 transactions.

Prowl around the site a lot as you have the time, they have a literal ton of features that could be fun to play with.  I have a monitor that sends me email whenever I exceed a power usage threshold.  I get mail when the heaters turn on and I'm using the stove.  Helps keep me thinking about my power bill.  They can send to the phone also, but I have lousy cell service out here in the sticks.  I also set up an alarm that will send email to me when something goes wrong and data isn't updated regularly, that helps me chase down bugs in my house monitoring system.

These days I have my dozen or so Arduinos all talking to a Raspberry Pi which coordinates their activity and forwards the data off to all the cloud providers I've been testing.  I sort of outgrew an Arduino for that particular job.  Still have the arduinos all over the place though.  People tell me I need a user's manual to live here.
48  Using Arduino / Networking, Protocols, and Devices / Re: XBee Settings on: October 11, 2013, 10:11:11 am
The answer is a bit more complex Paul.  If you change baud rate, it won't be saved such that next time you reset the XBee it'll be the new rate unless you write it; that's the WR command.  If you're doing that, a reset or power off of the XBee will come up at the new rate.  Same with the API 2 commands, they have to be saved also.  If you're changing the XBees with XCTU, XCTU does a save to rom automatically for you.  If you're doing it in your own code, look and see if you're doing the WR command.

The baud rate is ONLY for the serial port on the XBee and has no affect on the speed the two XBees talk to each other.  The XBees have only one speed talking to each other: as fast as they can.  So, you can have one XBee at 9600 and the rest at some other speed and they can still communicate with each other and you just fine.

Regarding what speed to choose:  I always choose the highest baud rate the processor connect to the XBee can do and still do whatever else needs to be done.  On an arduino, that usually tops out at 115K.  You can use less if your software needs to.

It simply sounds like the libelium supplied XBee were pre-programmed to 38K for you.  I'd just set the other ones to that speed so they were all the same and go for it.
49  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: October 10, 2013, 07:40:23 pm
You're welcome, I guess this has become a hobby for me.  I got the blog post up and have the code I used first to try it out on the arduino there.  I don't have the newest code; seems I saved it somewhere and lost track of it.

enjoy if you're into this kind of thing.
50  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: October 10, 2013, 04:53:41 pm
Well, I took the plunge and got my stuff going into the site.  I did it first on the raspberry pi since I moved my house controller over to one of those little devices, then I did it again with an arduino.  When I started the process, there wasn't an example for an arduino on the site, but I asked, and got an example that I could try out.

Their example worked on my first try.  However, it works off a temperature probe and I was too lazy to hook one up and just used a random number instead of the probe.  It worked fine for a few hours but I started noticing that the arduino was losing ram since they were using Streams in the sample.  I contacted them and they came up with a different example that seems to be pretty good.  Obviously it isn't exactly the way I'd do it, but it works and really illustrates what can be done.

I didn't buy into tochinets discussion of the richness of the API until I was chasing bugs in my code and it turns out that the site can do just about anything you could want for logged data.  They'll even average the data so you can chart it that way.  I complained about the (to me) obscure way some of the facilities are presented and they ... (wait for it) ... replied.

Yep, they actually answered my mail.  This place is new and just coming online for folks like us, and they answer questions.  I was told they were going to have a forum later when they have the time to attend to it and they have a very easy to follow tutorial on the arduino now.

My house is recording data there on a minute basis, and except for the occasional bug in my own code, has done fine.  I'd post my code that is live, but it's in python and running on a Pi now.  The arduino code I did was just to see how hard it would be to do the same thing on one of them.  Obviously I have too much free time.

One of the really cool features is that I can create an alert that will send email to me when something happens.  I created one based on power usage such that when my house power usage goes over 10kWh, it sends me an email.  That's so cool.  My house lets me know it's using too much power from a web service out in space somewhere. (I'm easily entertained).  I haven't even begun to use the things they have available, and probably won't for a while.

Nope, this site ain't free.  But, it looks like us experimenters can keep under the billable level with a little attention so that it'll cost us nothing to experiment and track a few sensors.  It could wind up costing us if we expand to a whole bunch of stuff being logged really often, but the pricing looks waaaay more favorable than Xively went to.

One of the things that confused me at first was the huge description of organizations, components, streams and such.  It took a bit to get past that.  What they have is a site for things like smart toasters.  You buy the toaster and when you hook it to your wireless at home, it signs into grovestreams, gets an id, and begins to log how much toast you eat.  This takes some smarts on the web app because, as we all know, toasters are dumb.  However, that stuff can get confusing, so I recommend first taking a look at the arduino example because that's something we understand.   They also have a 'sandbox' that illustrates a lot of the features that we might want to use; recommended reading.

I don't have a blog post on my site about this service yet, but I should have later today.  I was impressed.
51  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Very, very strange bug! on: September 19, 2013, 01:15:11 pm
Just took your code, loaded it onto an Arduino and it started counting at 11 and went up from there.

What was the problem again??
52  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: September 19, 2013, 01:02:07 pm
Unfortunately, buzz speak is something that has totally taken over the technical services sites.  In my opinion, that's because they all want to get some money in their hands, so they create a site that does something cool from a technical support aspect.  Not like facebook or twitter that caters to teenagers looking to get laid, but to someone that has a technical need and just doesn't want to roll their own.  Their hope is not so much that they get customers, as much as some bigger corporation comes along and buys them out.  Then the techies that built it take the money and go do something else while the bigger corporation lowers service, raises price, and eventually fails or gets bought out by even bigger corporation.

Of course to do this they have to speak the language of the corporate managers.  Which means everything useful is hidden behind a pile of ...

I'm going to try this site, but I'm up to my eyeballs in a different project right now and probably won't get to it for a couple of weeks.
53  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: September 19, 2013, 09:41:46 am
Nick, what do you mean?  I took a look at the api and the language examples and it didn't look that bad.  Of course, it would be nice to have an arduino example and library, but that shouldn't be too hard to come up with.  Sure, the site has some jargon, but they have to do that to impress the marketing types that can't speak any language but their own.

At least I didn't see, "A solutions based implementation" anywhere on the site.

Take a look at the python example, even I could read it, and no one ever accused me of being one of the white coats.  Overalls and a dirty t-shirt maybe...
54  Using Arduino / Networking, Protocols, and Devices / Re: Finally taking a look at the XBee library on: September 19, 2013, 12:44:43 am
Actually, the baud rate of the serial port on the XBee doesn't change the transmission rate at all.  They transmit at one speed, as fast as they can.  What does happen though is that you can clear the rx buffer more quickly and get data into it more quickly.  If you have all of them running at the max serial rate, they clear their buffers more quickly and don't have to ask for a retransmission because their buffer was full.  The risk you run is that you over flow the buffer on the arduino.  This can happen on heavily loaded processors that are doing several things.
55  Using Arduino / Programming Questions / Re: Alternatives to Pachube/Cosm on: August 21, 2013, 10:19:03 pm
I'm going to second the previous post about Xively and their support.  They removed the forum and went to stackoverflow and they are truly a bunch of arrogant jerks.  To add insult to injury, the Xively site has a number of things promised and not delivered scattered around it.  The old API works, but you can't move your accumulated data forward to the new facilities.  So, if you want to use their new stuff, you get to start over.

Nice going folks.  Take a good service and rip it to shreds, then turn your support over to the whims of a bunch of self righteous ....
56  Using Arduino / Networking, Protocols, and Devices / Re: [Solved] Gonna bother you folks about RS485 on: August 03, 2013, 12:12:03 am
Yes I did get it to work.  If you check on the other page, I posted a link to my blog where I describe it in detail and posted the code for the device.  I had to move it to a mega2560 though because the constant load of softwareserial bit banging at 19K was causing eratic operation.  When I put the code on the 2560 it settled right down and has been working fine for quite a while.  The entire code was too big to post here.
57  General Category / General Discussion / Re: Home automation capabilities on: July 17, 2013, 10:39:18 am
I've been automating parts of my house for a few years.  I'm building most of the stuff myself instead of buying it because I wanted it to actually work (unlike X10) and I wanted to be able to repair it when it broke instead of tossing it and buying new.  I've had moderate success, but as you pointed out, I only automate the stuff that I actually need to make it nicer around the house.

I kept forgetting to close the garage door when I left; some switches, arduino, XBee, and programming and I can see if the doors are open and close them from anywhere.  I wanted better control of my swimming pool; some protocol conversion work, arduino, XBee, and now I can turn on the pool filter from anywhere.  I wanted a really, really smart set of controllers for my heat pumps (Arizona USA); arduinos, relays, ethernet boards, and I can control my house temperature from anywhere.  This one also monitors the time and controls things based on power company demand billing; they save me hundreds of dollars a year.  I automatically add acid to my pool with an arduino, relay, XBee combination; this minimized the time I have to spend checking chemical balance.  All this stuff needed a time standard that didn't depend on the internet; GPS chip, arduino, XBee and I have a clock that is really accurate and provides time for the other devices.  The thermostats use it as well as the pool devices.  Then I noticed how much power the water heater was using; hooked up an SSR to the same device that works the garage doors and turn the water heater off when it isn't needed.  I monitor my septic tank level so I can clean its filter before problems happen (yuck); hooked a float switch into the same device that controls the chemicals to the pool.  I mentioned power usage; an arduino, two circuit transformers, XBee and I monitor my home power usage in real time.  The data is uploaded to several cloud servers and I can get graphs and other comparisons from them anywhere.  I wanted to know what the temperature was at home when I'm away; an XBee and a temperature sensor went into a louvered box on the fence.  I can look at the actual temperature at my house from anywhere.  Heck, I wanted to be able to monitor my tractor battery from the house without going to the barn to check it; XBee, float charging circuit and I can see the battery's state of charge from my kitchen table.

I needed something to monitor and report all this stuff to me as I needed and to turn on a little light when something went wrong; arduino, XBee, ethernet card, and I had a device that centralizes all the other devices and allows me control and monitoring from anywhere over the internet.

So, I haven't done trivial automation, instead I automated the things that made a lot of sense in my environment specifically made to serve my purposes.  I'm not done yet.  I want to move the controller function to a bigger device so I can have more stuff presented over the internet.  I want to build in special controllers to make sure visitors don't start the clothes dryer during high power price periods.  I want a lot, but I never even thought about the dishwasher.
58  Topics / Home Automation and Networked Objects / Re: Controlling Lights on: June 29, 2013, 12:05:49 pm
Frankly, it's a pain in the butt to tell if the light is on.  If you just want to know if there is power there, you can sample the voltage at the wire going to the light, if you want to actually know it's on, you have to sample current at the same point, because the bulb could have quit.  The problem there is the range of current.  A CFL draws a tiny amount and an incandescent draws a lot, so you have to allow for this.

One method is to give up on the three way switching and just wire the light on all the time through the switch boxes, then put a controller at the light itself that is controlled by the switches which you have hooked to little radio transmitters.  I hate this idea because you have to take everything apart and change it to something else.

There are commercial solutions to this out there in the Zwave realm, but they'll cost you a bunch of money and they seem to have problems being set up. 

But, you can use a hall sensor to sense current through a wire by just setting it on top of the wire; this will sense current.  A lot of experimenting will be needed to find the right device and then code for it.  There are also current sensors out there, but they need a special circuit board set up to hook into the circuitry.  Voltage is a pain in that you have to use an opto-isolator to keep from blowing things up and it can get tricky running one off mains power.

Then there's powering the little devices you come up with.  You need DC for the processor and other devices and wall warts won't work because you don't have outlets next to light switches.  It would look silly anyway to do it like that. 

This is the kind of problems I keep running into trying to come up with something to do what you describe.
59  Using Arduino / Networking, Protocols, and Devices / Re: Xbee Found Bootloader active reprogramming firmware on: March 25, 2013, 10:26:25 am
OK, at this point go to the digi web site and look under support.  There is also a forum there where the real experts on these little devices support various people.  I've gotten several answers to problems here and you could too.  It's also possible to call them and actually talk to a human, but time zones are always a problem doing that.

It sounds like the little module died, but there may be some help at digi.
60  Using Arduino / Networking, Protocols, and Devices / Re: Xbee Found Bootloader active reprogramming firmware on: March 24, 2013, 10:33:58 pm
Try reading the XBee, then program it with what you just read.  If that doesn't work, you may have a bad XBee.
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