Limited by your imagination
The revolution of maker electronics, started by Arduino more than 10 years ago, has made a lot of household projects possible which seemed far fetched, difficult and expensive.
Today platforms like Particle.io exists which allows easy cloud connection of your particle IOT boards and acts as a MQTT broker allowing you to link to other PAAS (Platforms As A Service) products like Losant, Azure IOT Central, Google Cloud and Amazon AWS.
As it becomes easier and easier to link and visualize your IOT projects, monitoring and controlling of your IOT projects from anywhere and at anytime becomes accessible to more and more people. Building these solutions are cost effective, adds definitive value to you and most of all is fun!!!
My first project entailed opening and closing the valves of my irrigation system remotely and setting up my own time based irrigation for automatic irrigation. I also wanted to measure my rain and gray water tank levels to determine when not to allow my irrigation pump to start. I used a normal prototyping board and soldered headers on the board for my Particle Argon and connected all the pins to screw terminals to make connecting to sensors easier. I then needed to convert the 3.3V inputs/outputs of my Argon to 5V. This was done using a bi-directional level converter. I at first struggled with the converter as I connected both 3.3V and 5V power. After some trial and error and more research (Sparkfun hookup guide) I realized that you need to only connect the one side of the bi-directional converter (though this might differ from board to board).
After all preparation was done, it was time to hookup the 24AC powered valves (Available from hardware stores like Pupkewitz Megabuild or Sinclair, Ec Robotics has 12V valves available) To do this I used an eight channel relay board. I used ultrasonic sensors on both tanks. The sensors are water proof on the sensor side, but on the sensor connection side the electronics is open and a 110mm pipe was used to cover the sensors (a complete water proof sensor was later released by DF Robot, available on EcoRobotics). What makes the sensors nice though is there temperature compensation ability when reading the information over serial (Normal pulse signals is also available).
Finally I decided to measure the flow of water used by the irrigation system and integrate the instantaneous flow to determine my total water used.
The end result is shown below:
To visualize the information I used the Losant Platform. Losant allows a for a free developer Sandbox that can be used. This is more than enough for small household projects. There is an easy step by step tutorial on Losant on how to connect your particle board to Losant. Using the above tutorial and the Losant University A snipet of the end result is shown below.
From here my project expanded to various different items. This included measuring my:
- Household power
- Rain Measurement
- Municipality Water Use/Leak Detection
- Third Party Weather Information (Using Dark Sky Weather API)
Finally I am busy testing fridge monitoring and alarming, which will come in a later post.
I hope the above examples and ideas inspire you to try some of your own projects and start creating. There are so many interesting projects that can be implemented. Some of my future projects includes hydroponics, gas leak detection (gas oven), automatic fertilizing of my garden and alarm system integration.
If you would like to share some of your projects we would love to hear from you and post it on our site (with your consent of course). If you would like to reach out to us, please send me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.