My son entered Science Talent Search with this Arduino-powered buggy. We used IR with a TV remote to issue codes for motor control and combinations of colours for the RGB LEDs.
Programming was fairly simple, but we found issues with power. It seems that motors are very noisy and when they run it can reset the Arduino. We solved this by running the motor off 4 x AA batteries, whilst the Arduino is powered by a phone battery booster. The Arduino in question is actually a Freetronics Leostick, which is a nice small board, and has a USB plug which we just plugged straight into the phone battery.
So it’s been busy, and school is just about to go back. I did find time to try out my Christmas present so I opened up the kit, plugged in the SD card and WiPi adaptor, hooked up peripherals that normally are hooked up to the Mac Mini, plugged in the power and we’re up and running. A few clicks and we’ve joined the network and posting a new item on this blog!
So this project had been sitting on my desk for ages now with the sensors and RF module spread across two breadboards with a mess of wire connecting it all up. Today I finally found some time to add the RF module to a prototyping shield. The other sensors are still on a breadboard and that’s the extra wires hanging off it, but it’s one step closer to a finished project. Some of the soldering was a bit fiddly but worked straight off.
I’m thinking I might have to back this one, which has already reached its target after less than 24 hours. It’s Aussie-designed although being made in the USA. Read more on Kickstarter. Now what could I use it for …
Home early from work and a beautiful afternoon, so I thought, it’s time to install the weather station sensor array on the roof. There is a pipe from a flue or something up there that is doing nothing and ideal. Didn’t take too long, used the compass on the phone and checked the satellite image on Google Maps to get a good idea of where North is. Even whilst I was up there I could see that it was picking up much more wind rather than when it had been down low and sheltered.
There’s a whole heap of updates still to write, but this is now sending data to my Arduino which is getting pushed to the internet along with some data from sensors inside the house.
These articles together form the source that I drew inspiration from. I didn’t have to do my own signal timing analysis which sounds fascinating but complicated. The above code examples however are written either for Raspberry Pi, or for Arduino using different models of Fine Offset sensors and transmitters.
The next step was to figure out how to receive the sensor data being transmitted to the display base station. There’s plenty of articles on the web describing parts of the puzzle, but I didn’t find any one article that explained it all. For testing I used a Freetronics LeoStick and a 433MHz RF receiver module set up on a breadboard, so I could leave the original sketch still running on my desktop feeding data to the web. The LeoStick was particularly easy to use as I could just plug it into a USB port and test code from anywhere in the house without being tethered to power.
My birthday was coming up and an online retailer had a tempting online discount so I ordered one of these:
It’s a common ‘generic’ model made by Fine Offset, WH-1081, sold here by many retailers as an XC0348. Of course I had to wait until my birthday to actually ‘receive’ it and then it was back to work and no time to play. Finally it did get put together, and it has sat out the back on a small table to test it. Firstly I haven’t had an opportunity to get on the roof, and secondly, if I want to do some decoding of the data it is much easier if you can observe it close up, and test the sensors individually. Although some data is probably inaccurate, such as wind, the readings generally agree with the weather bureau. Here’s its current position: