Thursday, May 26, 2011

Updating the Blog

I updated the XBee and Swimming Pool pages.  They have links to the various parts to make it easier to find things.  I also added several items here and there.  Notable is the addition of my changes to the swimming pool solar heater to support the low flow rate my new variable speed permanent magnet pool motor (love saying that) can handle.  I can run the solar heater with as low as 5 pounds head pressure.  For you folks that don't understand that, this is a very good thing.  It means I can run the pool at about 270 watts during the peak period and still heat the water....for almost free.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Modifications to my Power Display

As I mentioned in one of my posts, I've had a strange hardware failure in the WiShield used to gather data for the display.  Seems something there causes the Arduino to reboot.  I spent a couple of days looking for the problem and finally cut the script back to the point where the only thing running was the WiShield and it still failed.  I even went all the way to the example script and it failed there too.  That was actually the point where I started experimenting with XBees as a replacement network for the house.  Wifi is nice and does the job, but it is complex and takes a lot of code to keep running.  It has the advantage of being installed in laptops so you can watch it, being able to get to the internet, but what happens when the phone line dies?

Well, I finally got back to the display.  It stayed low on my priority list because the fail safes I built into the code were causing the display to come back to life in only a few seconds so it became an annoyance rather than a real problem.  I removed the WiShield and hooked up an XBee.  About 80 percent of the code disappeared!  I gather the power levels, time and temperatures from the various devices around the house and present them on the display.  The Pachube feed has been handled by my House Controller for a couple of weeks so that was removed as well.  Shortly, I'll update the Power Display page with the new script.  I'm going to keep the old script there as well for those folk that use Wifi, but this works really well.

Guess you can tell I'm pretty well sold on XBees as a network device for home automation.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Swimming Pool Continued

Work on the pool controller is at its first stage of completion.  I can control the functions I want pretty well and have the devices in a weather resistant box mounted to the wall near my pool electronics.  It is on my XBee network and can be controlled from anywhere in the house since the XBees automatically forward data from remote nodes.  This was an incredibly cool (from a total nerd's viewpoint) project and actually does something useful.  Now I can set up timers to control what the pool system does and when it does it.  I already hooked it into my house controller and can lounge in my recliner and turn on the pool light at night to attract the bats.

You can see the web controls here <link>, but the buttons won't work for machines outside my home network.  A picture of the device, most of the code and description are under the 'Swimming Pool' tab above.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Swimming Pool

I've been working on having control of my swimming pool.  There is very little information on this kind of thing available and Goldline, the manufacturer of my pool controller told me the information was a trade secret.  Trade secret?  That sounds like a challenge doesn't it?  There is a new tab above that describes in some detail the protocol they use and how to implement your own remote control.  Yes, it uses an Arduino.  I've been working on this on and off for a few months and had a few breakthroughs recently so my own control device is in the works and will be hooked into my evolving overall scheme for controlling things around the house.

Trade secret my butt.  This is the 21st century, the era of open source and information sharing.  Gimme a break! Once you put it on the internet, it's there forever.....somewhere.