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  1. Thread - a new networking protocol to unite the IoT initiated by Nest, ARM, and Samsung and others.

    Things seem to be heating up in the battle to bring the Internet of Things to fruition.  The latest such entry into this market may just be the game changer we've been looking for to start bringing all these different systems together.  We've seen plenty of other attempts at standardizing communication in our homes - but they've all gone their own way trying to create the "best" - and instead it seems we've ended up with too many choices.  The Thread Group hopes to change this.  Cue the old xkcd.com comic:

    Posted Image
    What makes this different is the list of backers this time around.  The founding group consists of ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale Semiconductor, Nest Labs, Inc, Samsung, Silicon Labs and Yale Security.  New members should getting accepted Q3 2014).  This is a not-for-profit group that's centered around working with developers and consumers and creating a certification program for their new mesh networking technology.
    I'm not 100% up to speed yet, but the idea is that a new protocol called Thread is being developed as a new mesh networking protocol based on 802.15.4.  This means that, in theory, existing devices which use ZigBee / 6LoWPAN and possibly others will be able to migrate to Thread with just a firmware update.  In fact, Nest thermostats are now shipping with a version of Thread running on them.
    This new protocol shows promise, as it's designed from the ground up to be a self-healing network that's secure, scalable, and still easy on batteries making it work for portable devices.  It's intended to bring together appliances, access control, climate control, energy management, lighting, safety, and security - and it's designed specifically for the home.  Up to 250 devices are supported on a single network and can handle multiple hops (may be too few devices for some of us).  Setup looks like it'll eliminate the need for a lot of technical knowledge, as it seem like you'll be able to enroll devices with just your smartphone by entering in or scanning a product code on the packaging.  This will help open the doors to households everywhere, leaving the biggest remaining hurdle likely to be getting the electrical components switched out (switches, outlets) and possibly wiring up the new thermostat; everything else seems like it'll enroll in seconds.
    I'm certainly intrigued; I think this will be the biggest jump-start the IoT needs to finally start bringing the masses together so we can finally start seeing the world where all of our appliances and fixtures in the home communicate and work together to keep us informed and help reduce our energy costs by allowing everything in the home to work together.  Of course this likely will bring with it yet another dependance on "The cloud" - but being a single standard, hopefully there'll be options for the edge routers to keep things closed within our own homes as well.
    Thoughts?  Comment below!

    • Jul 17 2014 12:04 AM
    • by Work2Play
  2. How to remotely monitor an appliance

    The method described in this How-To will use a CdS photo-resistorplaced over the appliance's light, then have a DS10a trigger based on the resistance change that the photo-resistor sees when detecting those light level shifts from on to off.
    The entire system can be operated off of the batteries of the DS10a so no wiring is needed (other than the wiring coming from the DS10a to the actual photo-resistor). 
    First you take a DS10a and remove the magnetic sensor from its wiring.  Now you need to assemble the circuit shown below on a small bread board.  You should be able to easily assemble the components on a breadboard that can mount in a small plastic box and mount the entire assembly on the back of the DS10a sensor.
    [attachment=4891:light sensor schematic.jpg] [attachment=4892:rear.jpg] [attachment=4893:rear_enclosed.jpg]
    Parts and Assembly

    The parts can be purchased from any electronic supplier or picked up at your local Radio Shack or Frys.  Radio Shack also sells a small circuit breadboard and plastic housing that works well for mounting it on the back of the DS10a with two sided foam type tape or glue.
    If you want to use the battery supply of the DS10a for the circuit you can simply solder a wire on its positive and negative battery springs, then route those wires to the box.  I also cut some notched holed in the plastic box as well as the DS10a's cover so they would not get pinched when that cover is closed.
    The DS10a's wires from the magnetic sensor are polarized so if the circuit does not work, you may need to reverse these wires.
    • Once this assembly is completed, register the DS10a to your home automation software by using the test button.
    • Then place the CdS photo-resistor over the appliances light using black tape (the wide type of 'pipe tape' works best for this).
    • Secure the wiring from the photo-resistor so the sensor maintains proper contact with the LED.
    • You may even want to try to bench test this by just using a flashlight and shine it on the photo-resistor before mounting.
    • Operate the appliance so the LED is turned on.
    • Adjust the pot until the indicator light of the DS10a blinks.
    • Turn the pot slightly more to insure a proper bios of the transistor.
    Note that the circuit's sensitivity has a pretty broad range.  For instance you can make this circuit very sensitive so that ambient room light will trigger it (so it could be used as a room light level indicator for a crude dusk/dawn detector).
    I would like to thank Cocooner TonyNo for helping with resources for the circuit and also the HomeSeer forums(where I remember reading a post about the idea/concept of the transistor triggered DS10a concept). 

    • Feb 11 2013 03:30 PM
    • by BraveSirRobbin