Thursday, July 01, 2010

Remote Possibilities

The infra-red remote control unit arrived from NuElectronics with the RTC and SD datalogging sensor shield. The photo shows the combined stack of three boards, Arduino, RTC and ethernet shield. The IR sensor for the remote control is plugged into one of the inputs on the sensor board.

This assembly now provides the building blocks needed for a stand-alone, real time sensing system, with local datalogging and ethernet/Web accessability for between £40 and £50 of off the shelf hardware.

In my opinion, this now puts remote sensing well within the capability of the enthusiast or hobbyist, and with free, on line data hosting and graphing services such as Pachube, brings an interesting new dimension to home monitoring and control projects.

So what is needed now is a convenient way of stitching this lot together with opensource code modules, to allow quite sophisticated applications to be rapidly developed. In discussions with Trystan Lea of openenergymonitor, this could be done using the Arduino code libraries.

However, I believe that there is ultimately an opportunity for a PC application, which allows you to quickly chose the functionality you need, and the PC then compiles the relevant code libraries into the final sketch.

For example, the "Configurator" application would allow you to select what hardware you have assembled - from a list of popular vendors, in a mix-and-match manner. Then you select the functionality from a similar list - eg. RTC, datalogger, ethernet client, and define the sensors you have connected. This is then compiled with other operating parameters - eg. MAC address, logging frequency etc to produce a sketch tailored to your particular application.

Whilst most of the above is beyond my programming skills, it would certainly hasten the development of complex applications and make the system more accessible to new users.

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