Archive for July, 2013
If you’re read my previous article – you’ll know I’m interested in home control DIY. The original home control article is here.
My first attempts at remote control over here in Spain are coming together. Having had remote access to cameras for 3 or 4 years now with reasonable reliability, I’m ready to extend this to temperature and humidity monitoring and remote control of lighting.
If you look at my previous articles on home control you’ll know that I’m using NETIO on Android phones, via WEBSOCKET drivers on Arduino-type boards using the WIZ Internet controller at the master end and low-cost RF24NETWORK-driven radio-controlled boards for remotes.
I recently had some boards made to comprise the Atmel 328 chip and associated components along with monitoring LEDS and the NRF24L01 low-cost radio boards as daughter-boards. Here is the first of the units, in a case top – alongside a single RELAY board. This board needs USB power only (pretty standard low cost plug-in-the-wall power) and communicates with the master (and hence the remote Android or iPhone) to allow monitoring and control.
The board you see here also has a DHT11 unit attached to provide temperature and humidity readings. These are not stunningly accurate but I have calibration offsets available in EEPROM on the controller to compensate.
The plan is to leave the main board attached to the router here and the small control board will monitor downstairs temperature and humidity – if time permits a second board will monitor the same upstairs – as humidity is an issue in caves – even modern ones such as ours – too wet and clearly this causes damp issues, too dry and the underlying cave material gets brittle and you get bits dropping off! Breezeblock is so much easier but then also so much more ugly.
More on this later, the basic boards are working a treat, I’ve yet to do range testing for the radio.
This all sprang up from my original article on a cottage thermostat in which I envisaged a very simple controller. Then came the UberBareBoard article about an Atmega328-based Arduino clone, initial attempts to master the NRF24L01 radio. The next article was the first item entitled home control and after this – the winter update.
I don’t remember such a frantic week. From Wark I went off to Blackpool, then to Birmingham and then to Manchester, in the process taking something like 120 photos of staff, solving technical issues, chairing a talk on social media, seeing the results of a pretty awful accident and enjoying (sometimes not enjoying) the best weather in living memory in the UK.
Throughout my travels this week, seeing the car thermometer top out at 30c or more has been the norm – amazing and we’re not even talking the bottom end of the country.
It’s not going to last of course, it never does and Hexham is due for rain most of next week albeit with temperatures in the lower 20s hitting 25c in the rain on Wednesday… can’t imagine that being much fun.
The week began in Blackpool with a meeting about hard disks – all pretty boring but essential stuff and a reminder that disks don’t last forever. The day ended with David Miles and I enjoying sitting outside of JAVA restaurant in Lytham enjoying the weather and a glass or who of wine followed the next morning by a fellow giving us a talk on social media and SEO – very enlightening – and confirming the idea that it is no longer ok to think of the web and social media as distinct..
That afternoon I headed off down the M6 only to be greeted by a large amount of smoke and a several mile tailback. Turns out someone’s car had either exploded or something like it judging by the state of the front of the car.
That evening after much driving back and forth, I ended up in the Midlands Hotel in Manchester – a fabulous and very large hotel apparently favoured by politicians. After enjoying a quiet night out in the Chinese quarter of Manchester, I spent much of Friday in a meeting at the “Manchester Central” venue where the FSB will next year have it’s annual conference.
Got home last night to check out the new circuit boards for my holiday project only to find that one of the chips is not something I have handy and not that easily available – not at short notice anyway and it doesn’t get any shorter than this being Saturday and we’re leaving on Monday.
So nice weather for the week, a pretty mixed bag otherwise.
For now, if you want to keep up with our hols – head on over to www.bedrock.es
After a very enjoyable trip to Brussels I’ve been working this week on my usual FSB email mountain and spending every spare hour up at the cottage in Bellingham doing repairs and upgrades. Today as well as solving people’s problems,
I’m starting to put together my tech pack for Spain not to mention copying massive amounts of stuff onto a laptop to take with me.
Meanwhile the new cat-flap has arrived, just waiting for big ginger cat (Ollie) to grace us with his presence so I can train the thing to accept his chip.
And that is that – fairly boring but essential stuff – the weather is absolutely cracking and looks set to stay that way – well – but for history – the last few years have shown ATTROCIOUS summer weather in the Northeast of England – thankfully Maureen and I will be spending some of that time in Spain – where the weather is all but guaranteed.
In an unusual break from my FSB activities, this week I headed off to Brussels to perform my duties as vice-chairman of the EESCO ICT group. This is a small-pan-European group involved in creating a language-independent reference for jobs, skills and qualifications in ICT – not a trivial task and something that will run for around 2.5 years. We meet bi-monthly in Brussels and this is my second trip.
On Wednesday afternoon I headed off to Edinburgh airport for the mid-afternoon flight which would get me into Brussels early enough for dinner. I’d planned to meet one of the team, a fellow from Sweden called Kenneth OE Sundin with whom I get on well, for drinks. Sadly I got off to a bad start. Having not realised there are TWO airports in Brussels (the second being Charleroi South) and despite many trips there in the past , I ended up at the wrong one, a small affair situated an hour (by coach) away from Brussels centre and even then a further trip by taxi to my normal part of town. That pretty much kyboshed my early evening plans and I let Kenneth know I’d not be around.
As it happened just as I arrived at my hotel expecting a quite night at the Hotel La Madeleine in downtown Brussels, a message came in from an old friend to say that the EESC (European Economic and Social Community) were having a bash which was going on late and if I got there quickly there was still time to salvage the night. I jumped in a taxi only to end up in the centre of Brussels not moving as there’d been a rather serious crash involving a motorcycle downtown and the traffic was gridlocked. After watching my fare jump from 5 to 10 Euros without actually moving, I jumped out of the taxi and took a brisk walk for the last half-mile to the venue.
The celebration was for the incoming Latvian President of the EU and the whole event was themed Latvian from the food to the (live) music and even some traditionally-clothed dancers. I was rapidly introduced to to a whole succession of Europeans involved in the EESC while enjoying a range of Latvian foods and of course the odd beer.
My meeting the next day was not until early lunchtime and I was invited to return to the EESC building for an early (8am) start, a chat and a visit to one of the plenary meetings, this particular one on the issue of a pending EU directive on smoking. I have to say I found the whole process fascinating and would not had had great difficulty in contributing to the arguments in a massive Auditorium with projectors and stage, banks of translators on the ready behind huge glass screen and some lively conversations going on. My headphones filled with live translations of the manu languages used and I stayed for a couple of hours during which time I also had a fascinating chat with one of the accountants who explained the funding setup and I have to say everyone I talked to made me feel quite at home. No doubt that won’t be the end of that.
Late morning I headed off on foot for my ESCO meeting a few blocks down downtown at Rue Joseph II – we ended up in EU offices smack in the middle of town with no air-conditioning and our pan-European team roasted for much of the afternoon while we listened to a series of talks and discussed how to progress our mission. The meeting ended at 5:30pm and we went our own separate ways. Kenneth and I headed off down to our hotels near the Grand Plaza and agreed to meet up later on for drinks at the Plaza itself.
Brussels Central Plaza is a wonderful place in summer and just about every bar and restaurant had outside seating backed with enthusiastic travellers from all over the world. We picked a corner spot We’d previously visited but they were out of space so we went to the next bar along. That didn’t last long as they were charging 6 Euros for a Leffe beer whereas their competitors were offering 3 Leffes for 8 Euros!
Yes THAT much difference. Finally we settled down at a VERY reasonable pizza restaurant, had another beer and in each case one of the best pizzas we’d had in years (sign in the window “Pizzas au feu de bois”). The guy took great delight in telling us the place had 25 years experience- the bill came to under 20 Euros each – what more could you want.
Today I have a very full day with ESCO not to mention the usual FSB email mountain) then after the rather longer than planned trip to the airport I’m off home, arriving back in Wark at a not-unreasonable hour after the two-hour drive down from Edinburgh airport (Newcastle is just too unreasonable requiring a stop-over in London). Next week I’ve a fairly full week of FSB meetings before heading off to Spain for some real sun.