Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

Arduino or...?

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Posted by j on November 28, 2012, 7:00 pm
 
   I'd like to automate my solar heating system. So,I'll need a little
control logic that reads some temps and switches on a fan and possible
some servos.

It's been a while since I've looked at the options, but I see Arduino is
readily available with a variety of hardware.

Recommendations for control logic, sensors, or other hardware? Arduino
or something else?

Jeff

Posted by mike on November 28, 2012, 10:52 pm
 
On 11/28/2012 11:00 AM, j wrote:

Here's a strategy that works for me.

Use a microcontroller to do the low-level hardware interfaces and real-time
stuff.
Interface it with a RS-232 port.  That makes that part pretty easy.
You have lots of choices for hardware.  I use PicBasic pro and the
16F877A processor, cuz that's where I started and see no reason to change.
Starting fresh today, the Arduino looks attractive.  But pick
something that has a compiler language you can live with.
I don't have the patience for C, and that limits my choices.

I do the heavy lifting on a PalmIII connected to the PIC
serial port.  There's a free basic-like language called
"dialect" that makes it easy to get a GUI interface with
touch.  Do all your floating point math and string processing
and data logging in the Palm.
PalmIII's can be had at garage sales and scrap dealers
for under a buck.

Here's where it gets interesting.  If  you want to switch
from the palm to a PC, all you gotta do is use a usb/rs232 dongle.
You don't have to change ANY code.
Ditto for wireless.  I can plug on RS-232 to Bluetooth dongles
and the whole thing goes wireless with ZERO changes in the code.
You don't have to know anything about USB or Bluetooth or nothin'.
As a result, you can use a microcontroller with much less horsepower.
Don't discount RS-232 just because it's old.  It makes a great
common denominator.

This is a sample of what you can do very easily on a Palm.  This
monitors the gas furnace:
http://myplace.frontier.com/~nm7u/pictures.html

One rule I live by is, "don't ask a question if you're not
gonna do anything with the answer."
With home automation, there's the temptation to measure
and control everything.

A few years ago, in a fit of frugality, I sought to reduce
my energy consumption.  Another Palm program times the IR
pulses coming out of the smart utility meter and graphs
energy use.
It was fun to watch the fridge or the water heater or the
furnace blower go on and off...for about a week.
Then, I realized that taking shorter showers uses less
electricity.  I don't need to measure the water heater
to know that.  If I'm already taking the shortest showers
I can tolerate, knowing the power consumption is irrelevant.
Most of what I needed to know was just plain common sense
and didn't need any monitoring.

Same goes for the furnace monitor in the pix referenced above.
The program has the ability to measure inside and outside
temperatures.  So, yes, when the outside temperature is
lower, the furnace runs longer.  About the only interesting
thing I learned was that there's about a three hour time
lag between outside temperature and the furnace duty factor.
I scrapped the thermometer interface.

There's a thread currently raging in comp.arch.embedded on the subject
of AVR and C.

Posted by Jim Wilkins on November 28, 2012, 11:49 pm
 

Can you post a link to it? Googling "dialect" + computer language
terms brings a flood of irrelevance.


I solved that by replacing the shower head with an extended-length
sink spray, which shuts off when released. The head end is a
replacement hose for one of the big multi-function shower sprays that
does everything EXCEPT shut off automatically when released. The
threaded ends fit a brass coupler, though they don't look like pipe
threads. I checked in the store. Anyway if it leaks a little, so what?

A sink spray hose also converts a (new) pump bug sprayer into a shower
that operates with water heated on the stove. I replaced the skinny
outlet pipe with 3/8" copper tubing. Have a separate bucket to temper
the hot water because it may be difficult in the tank. The 2 gallon
sprayer I bought seems a good compromise between run time and handling
awkwardness in the slippery stall, though I have to refill it at least
once.

jsw



Posted by Jim Wilkins on November 29, 2012, 1:27 pm
 
At several places I worked the engineers preferred obsolete
front-office laptops to PICs etc to run experiments. Their power
consumption isn't that high if set up right. My late 90's Compaq
Armada draws 7W at idle, 12-13W running a program. My dual-core Dell
Latitude with Windows 7 takes ~14W idle, low 20's running with the
display off, for example after waking from Sleep to record TV. Both
can use an Auto-Air adapter and an old car battery to log data for a
long time, then switch to AC for data-crunching with the full power of
a spreadsheet on a large display.

The engineers had the funds for special add-ons such as CAN converters
to communicate with electric vehicle controllers, but I cobbled up a
similar I2C interface using the printer port. Cardbus plug-ins with
extra serial or USB ports are cheap. I'm using this to add USB3 to a
5-year-old machine, limited only by hard drive speed:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)

National Instruments made data acquisition cards for laptops:
http://www.artisan-scientific.com/68648.htm
or you can buy external ones like this:
http://www.dataq.com/products/startkit/di145.html?source=pla&gclid=CNeNouOf9LMCFc1lOgod2gcAkg

The Radio Shack 22-805 PC Link Multimeter was a great data acquisition
device for a laptop, I don't know if an equivalent is still available
new. It can record the current in 240V house wiring with a clamp-on
probe and with its optical isolation is safe to wire into a circuit,
such as the current monitor in a battery tester.

If the hard drive is formatted FAT32 the laptop can dual-boot DOS and
Windows 2000 or XP and both can read and write the data files. The
advantage of DOS is very low overhead, only the clock ticks, and full
unhindered access to the I/O ports, though USB is a problem unless
your language can configure it as virtual serial ports. The printer
port appears as one 8-bit read/write Data register and smaller
write-only Control and read-only Status registers. These ex-office
machines invariably had Windows and MS Office already on them or
freely available to reinstall.

jsw



Posted by j on December 4, 2012, 3:40 pm
 Damn Thunderbird...

Meant to follow up,not reply to OP. Sorry.


On 11/28/2012 5:52 PM, mike wrote:
 > On 11/28/2012 11:00 AM, j wrote:
 >> I'd like to automate my solar heating system. So,I'll need a little
 >> control logic that reads some temps and switches on a fan and possible
 >> some servos.
 >>
 >> It's been a while since I've looked at the options, but I see Arduino is
 >> readily available with a variety of hardware.
 >>
 >> Recommendations for control logic, sensors, or other hardware? Arduino
 >> or something else?
 >>
 >> Jeff
 > Here's a strategy that works for me.
 >
 > Use a microcontroller to do the low-level hardware interfaces and
real-time
 > stuff.
 > Interface it with a RS-232 port.  That makes that part pretty easy.
 > You have lots of choices for hardware.  I use PicBasic pro and the
 > 16F877A processor, cuz that's where I started and see no reason to
change.
 > Starting fresh today, the Arduino looks attractive.  But pick
 > something that has a compiler language you can live with.
 > I don't have the patience for C, and that limits my choices.

I've been mulling all this over. Thanks for the detailed reply.

I don't mind the pseudo C,and the Arduino is gaining traction.


 >
 > I do the heavy lifting on a PalmIII connected to the PIC
 > serial port.  There's a free basic-like language called
 > "dialect" that makes it easy to get a GUI interface with
 > touch.  Do all your floating point math and string processing
 > and data logging in the Palm.
 > PalmIII's can be had at garage sales and scrap dealers
 > for under a buck.

This is an interesting way to go.
 >
 > Here's where it gets interesting.  If  you want to switch
 > from the palm to a PC, all you gotta do is use a usb/rs232 dongle.
 > You don't have to change ANY code.

That is way cool.

 > Ditto for wireless.  I can plug on RS-232 to Bluetooth dongles
 > and the whole thing goes wireless with ZERO changes in the code.
 > You don't have to know anything about USB or Bluetooth or nothin'.
 > As a result, you can use a microcontroller with much less horsepower.
 > Don't discount RS-232 just because it's old.  It makes a great
 > common denominator.

Serial is good. I like the bluetooth.

Arduinos come with USB. I think USB to Wifi is better as the range is
better and so is the possible security.

I know about web servers and web programming, so what I am thinking
about is a little raspberry pi lamp (linux,apache,MySQL,PHP) server. The
lamp gives you higher level languages to work in. That could talk to any
Microcontroller on the WiFi and display the data as a web page. The web
page could talk back through the server and send or receive from any of
the Microcontrollers. I see that Arduino can talk X10, so that leverages
a huge amount of cheap dimmers and switches and such.

   Jeff
 >
 > This is a sample of what you can do very easily on a Palm.  This
 > monitors the gas furnace:
 > http://myplace.frontier.com/~nm7u/pictures.html
 >
 > One rule I live by is, "don't ask a question if you're not
 > gonna do anything with the answer."
 > With home automation, there's the temptation to measure
 > and control everything.
 >
 > A few years ago, in a fit of frugality, I sought to reduce
 > my energy consumption.  Another Palm program times the IR
 > pulses coming out of the smart utility meter and graphs
 > energy use.
 > It was fun to watch the fridge or the water heater or the
 > furnace blower go on and off...for about a week.
 > Then, I realized that taking shorter showers uses less
 > electricity.  I don't need to measure the water heater
 > to know that.  If I'm already taking the shortest showers
 > I can tolerate, knowing the power consumption is irrelevant.
 > Most of what I needed to know was just plain common sense
 > and didn't need any monitoring.
 >
 > Same goes for the furnace monitor in the pix referenced above.
 > The program has the ability to measure inside and outside
 > temperatures.  So, yes, when the outside temperature is
 > lower, the furnace runs longer.  About the only interesting
 > thing I learned was that there's about a three hour time
 > lag between outside temperature and the furnace duty factor.
 > I scrapped the thermometer interface.
 >
 > There's a thread currently raging in comp.arch.embedded on the subject
 > of AVR and C.



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