Posts with «electricity» label

Disassembled Mouse Keeps Track Of Gas Meter

After building devices that can read his home’s electricity usage, [Dave] set out to build something that could measure the other energy source to his house: his gas line. Rather than tapping into the line and measuring the gas directly, his (much safer) method was to simply monitor the gas meter itself.

The major hurdle that [Dave] had to jump was dealing with an ancient meter with absolutely no modern electronics like some other meters have that make this job a little easier. The meter has “1985” stamped on it which might be the manufacturing date, but for this meter even assuming that it’s that new might be too generous. In any event, the only option was to build something that could physically watch the spinning dial. To accomplish this, [Dave] used the sensor from an optical mouse.

The sensor is surrounded by LEDs which illuminate the dial. When the dial passes a certain point, the sensor alerts an Arduino that one revolution has occurred. Once the Arduino has this information, the rest is a piece of cake. [Dave] used KiCad to design the PCB and also had access to a laser cutter for the enclosure. It’s a great piece of modern technology that helps integrate old analog technology into the modern world. This wasn’t [Dave]’s first energy monitoring system either; be sure to check out his electricity meter that we featured a few years ago.


Filed under: peripherals hacks

Solar Panel System Monitoring Device Using Arduino

[Carl] recently upgraded his home with a solar panel system. This system compliments the electricity he gets from the grid by filling up a battery bank using free (as in beer) energy from the sun. The system came with a basic meter which really only shows the total amount of electricity the panels produce. [Carl] wanted to get more data out of his system. He managed to build his own monitor using an Arduino.

The trick of this build has to do with how the system works. The panel includes an LED light that blinks 1000 times for each kWh of electricity. [Carl] realized that if he could monitor the rate at which the LED is flashing, he could determine approximately how much energy is being generated at any given moment. We’ve seen similar projects in the past.

Like most people new to a technology, [Carl] built his project up by cobbling together other examples he found online. He started off by using a sketch that was originally designed to calculate the speed of a vehicle by measuring the time it took for the vehicle to pass between two points. [Carl] took this code and modified it to use a single photo resistor to detect the LED. He also built a sort of VU meter using several LEDs. The meter would increase and decrease proportionally to the reading on the electrical meter.

[Carl] continued improving on his system over time. He added an LCD panel so he could not only see the exact current measurement, but also the top measurement from the day. He put all of the electronics in a plastic tub and used a ribbon cable to move the LCD panel to a more convenient location. He also had his friend [Andy] clean up the Arduino code to make it easier for others to use as desired.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Sassor wants to let users know just how much electricity their gadgets are wasting (hands-on)

Everyone knows that their game consoles, appliances and HDTVs are energy vampires, and while Energy Star-certified products tell us which gadgets are more green-friendly than others, we still don't know just how much juice they're actually sucking down in a given day. Enter Sassor, a start-up from Japan that's created a system to monitor the electrical consumption of anything plugged into a wall outlet -- from PCs to refrigerators. It tracks power consumption using current sensors clamped onto power cords, which communicate wirelessly via ZigBee with an module (based on an Arduino design) that uploads the info to the cloud.

Through the web portal, users can track energy consumption on a per-device basis in real-time, letting them figure out which gadgets are most responsible for their sky-high utility bill -- and take appropriate steps to correct the problem. Currently, it's aimed solely at businesses, but once Sassor's on its feet, funding-wise, the plan is to also put them in people's homes. The company told us it'll ditch ZigBee in favor of a WiFi solution in such future iterations, and it'll make an SDK and the system APIs available to all so that people can program for the platform and improve it in ways currently not contemplated. Alas, there's neither a timetable nor a price for the consumer version just yet, but you can see some pictures of the hardware's innards below.

Sassor wants to let users know just how much electricity their gadgets are wasting (hands-on) originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 18 Jun 2012 21:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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