ESP8266 Capsule now live, OUTSIDE!

Yesterday, I put the ESP8266 project into an enclosure. It uses a 9v battery style connector for power so it can be powered directly with a 9V battery or with a wall power supply. It’s too cold to run wires through the window (not that I would do it in the summer either, because bugs) so it’ll go battery powered whenever I want to put it outside.

It’s short notice, but my ESP8266 project will be put outside and will send data live starting at 1PM EST today until the battery runs out. It will be using a 9v battery that I’ve been using while prototyping other things so I’m not sure how long it will last. The project will be placed in a bag to protect it from moisture, even though it’s not raining today. I don’t want to take any chances.

IMG_0001

View the data at Thing Speak and my ESP8266 webpage.

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Look ma, no Arduino!

IMG_0001I’m one more step closer to finishing up the hardware for this project. I’ve migrated everything over to my ATmega328p and AMS1117 boards.

I said in the previous post that I didn’t want to power this project with batteries so I should mention that the battery will be swapped out with a 9V power supply so it can stay powered 24/7. This was just to test the configuration of the boards.

Thanks for reading! I’ll get it back online soon enough!

Information everywhere

Not only is the information from my ESP8266 project on the internet, but it’s now also displayed locally at the sensor station. I’ve added the LCD that I recovered from a previous project.

IMG_0001I’ve completed a few projects that had enclosures, but they were always make-shift like cardboard boxes or plastic food containers. I’m considering getting a solid plastic enclosure, but my biggest problem is not having any tools to cut into it. It will probably be cardboard again…
IMG_0003The first line of the LCD displays the temperature, humidity, and brightness. It changes between the three values every five seconds. The bottom line counts down to when the data will be send through the ESP8266 module to Thing Speak. I’d set it to send every 120 seconds, or two minutes.

There’s just a few more things left to do with this project:

1. Migrate everything over to my AMS1117 voltage regulator and ATmega328p boards.

2. Get a power supply.

3. Find and stuff everything into an enclosure.

I probably won’t be sending any data to Thing Speak until I complete this list so apologies for that.

You can get the code for this project on GitHub.

Thanks for reading!

Progress on the internet

IMG_0001Remember that New Years Resolution post I made that talks about getting my Box project on the internet? I decided to do it.

I actually purchased a DS18B20 temperature sensor for the wifi project but it hasn’t arrived yet. I decided to take the old Box project apart and get the DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor out of it. I’ll probably keep the incoming temperature sensor for something else since this doesn’t need it anymore.IMG_0003I’m thankful past me used a socket for the ATmega328p microcontroller as I was able to recover it, along with the real time clock and the LCD. For whatever reason, the real time clock started to lag and is now like 15 minutes behind. I’ll have another use for it eventually.IMG_0002I added the DHT22 sensor alongside the photoresistor I was using before as a test. With some code modifications, I got it to send all three pieces of data.
graphs You can view my Thing Speak channel here. I’m still playing around with the hardware configuration so sometimes the graphs show some weird values. I also don’t leave it powered overnight at this point. I’d like to package up the hardware so that it can be a little more portable. Like I said in the previous post, I’d like to use my custom PCBs (ATmega328p and AMS1117 voltage regulators) with the wifi module. They will help with bringing down the size of it.sunsetThere’s one satisfying graph. This is the light in my room as the sun was setting. The jump at the end is when I turned on the room light. It’s pretty cool to see how consistent the room light is, and how much natural light varies.

One last thing: I’m finally on GitHub. You can get the code for this project from there. It took me a while to get on it because I always found it easier to just throw things on Dropbox and share files that way. People are very interested in the code for this so I finally took the plunge and got on GitHub. I’m thinking of putting some of my Eagle files on there too. It’s good motivation to take documenting my code more seriously.

Thanks for reading!

Light Automation Revision

The old Light Timer/Automation project has been running well for the past few months. It was some time after, I played around with Attiny85 microcontrollers which have less pins. Since the project only uses two (now three) pins, I decided to do another revision of the project, swapping out the Atmega328 with an Attiny85.IMG_1243 (Custom)It started out with some prototying on a breadboard with the Uno. The potentiometer is a dimmer for the lights. One of the issues I had was that the lights were a bit too bright so I wanted an option to make them dimmer. The potentiometer allows me to do that without having to reprogram the chip, although in hindsight, I probably should have put one for the sensor sensitivity. I have to go through a few nights to see how it reacts as I wrote up new code but used the existing photoresistor.
IMG_1244 (Custom)This was the perfboard layout, though there were some mistakes and things missing that I fixed along the way.IMG_1245 (Custom)This is the old board. It feels good to strip it down even further…IMG_1247 (Custom)This is the new board. It’s a lot smaller and with a new enclosure (food container). The old one still had unwired buttons from the original light automation system with the LCD menu.IMG_1246 (Custom)When I swapped out the board for the new one, it wasn’t working properly. Sometimes it would function fine, but I’d come back to it to see it dead. After some poking around with my multimeter, I realized it was the power supply connector. It connects to the board using a 9v battery connector. This particular power supply has a bunch of other jacks which I tested and were still working fine. I decided to just chop off of the connectors which I didn’t like floating around anyway, and have this power supply dedicated to this project. I quickly soldered the supply wires to the board and it works just fine now.

Hopefully it’ll look good tonight. Thanks for reading!

Homing a motor with a photoresistor

I did some experimenting today with a photoresistor. A few days ago, I saw a project where someone used a photoresistor as a sensor when someone walked into a room or something like that, by pointing an LED at it and then waiting until the light was interrupted by someone in the way. I thought I could use that same concept with a servo motor.

The original plan was to build something like the Frog Hopper tower I built a while back. It would actually have “eyes” this time, as I would have mounted four sensors and four LEDs up the tower to track where the car is. After a couple of hours of not getting cardboard to cooperate with me, I gave up and quickly came up with a new plan to still play around with the concept.

If you know me, you know I’m a huge amusement park fan. Half of my fun at amusement parks are just watching the rides and picking out parts of them to figure out how it all works. IMG_20130604_114029If you know me really well, you’d know that my favorite ride is Sledge Hammer at Canada’s Wonderland. A lot of people knock it because it’s not very thrilling, but I’ve been so fascinated by it since it opened in 2003. In this picture, I’ve drawn a yellow circle pointing out a green proximity sensor, lined up with a thin piece of metal attached to the gondola, or the seats of the ride. As the ride cycle is ending, the gondolas slowly spin around trying to line up the piece of metal with the proximity sensor. I find it very interesting to watch, because most of the time it will pass by it and slowly reverse back to line up with it.
IMG_1057Anyways, this is what I set up. The button on the breadboard is used to tell the system to home the motor if the motor is running, or to restart the motor if the motor is stopped.IMG_1058 The continuous rotation servo motor has a piece of cardboard attached to it. The photoresistor sits on the servo motor and has the red LED shining on it whenever the cardboard rotates out of the way. Check out the video to see how it works: