The Treehouse Blog

Tag: 1-wire

Home Monitoring Project – Part 2

by on Mar.04, 2012, under Technology

In order to count the pulses from my water and power meters, I purchased the Dual Counter from Hobby Boards.  For an enclosure, I purchased the temperature/humidity case which fit the board fine.

Per the how-to, the dual counter board expects to be connected to dry switches as input.  Since the water softener already powers the water meter, it would not be possible to connect it directly as input.  Also, I wanted to have LEDs to indicate pulses, for troubleshooting and direct monitoring.  To provide the dry contacts for the counter board, I decided to use optocouples.  I found a 10 pack of Vishay 4N37s on eBay, which seem to meet the need.

The water softener I have is a Water-Right Sanitizer Plus.  Removing the front cover of the control head reveals the connection of the water meter to the PCB using a 3-pin Molex KK connector – exactly the same as a common PC fan connector.  I purchased a fan splitter cable, connecting it between the PCB and meter.  I salvaged a fan connector from an unused fan and made an adapter to an RJ45, to bring the connection back to the counter board.  Empirically, I found that one pulse per second equated to one gallon per minute – or stated another way, each pulse represented 1/60th of a gallon.

The power meter I have is a GE I-210 / CL 200.  The manual indicates each pulse represents Kt (in my case, 1.0) watt-hours of accumulation, which is the same conclusion reached in a post by Jan Bottorff.  I had originally guessed a pulse was 1 kWs, as that was the most convenient and seemed reasonable, so I had to adjust this by multiplying by 3.6.  I taped an optotransistor to the plastic cover in front of the IR LED.  Unfortunately, I would receive a lot of false triggers when the meter was exposed to direct sunlight, so I covered the whole meter with a grey bucket zip-tied in place.  I’m not sure how well the utility may like this – perhaps I should put a sign on it to indicate what’s going on in case they stop by.

Counter Schematic

I may try to post pictures later.

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Home Monitoring Project – Part 1

by on Feb.14, 2012, under Technology

Doug‘s recent gift of some 1-wire temperature sensors set me on the path to some more in-depth home monitoring.  The extent of home monitoring to this point had been the use of two relatively ancient AP9605 (ad) boards for the SmartUPSes (ad) in my network closet and office.  This combination provides SNMP-able power load and temperature readings that I graph using NetMRG.

Another home improvement project I have recently completed is having a water softener/conditioner installed.  This system has a built-in water meter, which just begs to be monitored.  While reading about home monitoring projects in general, I had read that some power meters output IR pulses that count energy usage.  I used my digital camera after dark to confirm that my meter does indeed appear to do this.  Between these two items, I clearly had a use for two counters.  The other monitoring goal I had was temperature and humidity information for my crawlspace.  The bottom of the insulation in my crawlspace seems to get wet in the summer from condensation, and I’d like to keep tabs on it.

The core of this project involves having a 1-wire network.  For the PC interface, I elected to get a LinkUSBi from iButtonLink.  I opted for the “scratch and dent” model to save a few bucks, and I have not even noticed any real cosmetic issues with it.  I setup the OWFS software on my firewall by recompiling Doug’s SRPM for EL6.  I’m using a phone distribution block (ad) to connect the multiple 1-wire devices back to the LinkUSBi.  The one gotcha I’ve noticed with this is that the 1-wire interface requires the correct polarity and the majority of RJ11/RJ12 phone patch cables are rollovers – they swap pins.  When a 1-wire device is connected with reversed polarity to the network, the LED on the LinkUSBi stays lit constantly and no devices can communicate.

The crawlspace temperature/humidity sensor I selected was the MS-TH from iButtonLink.  At $64 it seemed overly expensive, but with pricing other options including kits, it still appears to be the best value for a 1-wire humidity sensor.  I installed it on the beam in the crawlspace and ran a new CAT5e run to it from the network closet, patched into the 1-wire bus.  I wrote a script to strip the leading spaces that OWFS provides (WHY?) and graphed the sensors in NetMRG.

In the upcoming part 2, I’ll discuss the details of the 1-wire counter setup to provide power and water metering.

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