AVR Raven (DIY hardware/software)

linuxha

Active Member
Marc Hult asked me to post a little bit about the AVR Raven, here's the start from a previous thread:
I'm adding a lot more IP devices (my sprinkler will be replaced by a AVR Raven (IPv6/LoPAN) set of boards. I can proudly say my network has been rock solid (IPv4 & IPv6).
Can you tell us more about your Raven setup ( in another thread)? I searched Cocoontech for "raven" and found nothing but your reference. I can build/program AVR but have not delved into homebrew RF. The Atmel site would lead us to believe it will solve half the world's energy problems. But truly an 'easily' programmable device that might measure, compute, respond, control and communicate with any other point on earth -- all potentially using scavenged power --would indeed be a Very Good Thing.
I don't know about solving the worlds power problems ... I think we'll need to work on that still. This stuff is low powered but I'll wait and see how good that is as I think it would also depend on the programmer (sounds like a challenge ;) ).

A little background: I have a 30 year old sprinkler system. The main controller is in the garage and my wife isn't too keen about having cables (and cable related remodeling) strewn about. This year I decided that I'd had it with the old sprinkler system when over a 4 day period (the middle of a major heat wave) the system decided it didn't want to run. Basically the controls are klunky and confusing. We lost the entire lawn and a good portion of our ground shrubs. Since my wife fears my projects I have to come up with something this winter to replace the existing system and it must be fully tested before she gets it! While she loves a working HA system (the sprinklers are a sub-system of that) she dreads the tuning sessions (oh that never happened before, let me fix that ...). So I need to come up with something that is easy to use, is not over engineered and not expensive (but still an interesting project, oh, overkill is allowed but wasteful is not B)).

And for those who are don't know me ... I am a network engineer at AT&T Labs, I am into electronics, programming, home automation, Linux, Android, DIY and IPv6. I don't mind programming in anything from Solder to Perl, assembly language to Groovy (Java superset). Oh and I wrote a book on home automation so I think I know something about home automation and I've spent the last few years getting a new degree for work, basically I'm trouble. :)

Now back to reality. Marc, I picked up the AVR Raven Starter kit (ready built 802.15.4) and 1 extra Raven board from Mouser (Mouser AVR Raven search). It's Zigbee/802.15.4, this kit uses the Contiki RTOS as the OS with IPv6 (6lowpan). There's an Atmel 802.15.4 USB stick in the kit that has Linux support for it so I can toss it on my server and route it via IPv6 (I have IPv6 fully up and running). Total cost is <$200 (US) and I end up with wireless IP access to a board I can program and I get to learn about Contiki and build out more IPv6, well add LoPAN (sounds like fun! :eek:). My initial intention is to add the complex code to MisterHouse and keep the AVR code simple with a shell (PA01=1, Port A Pin 1 on) with timers (run no longer than 30 minutes, for example). The hardware isn't overly complicated (network stack has been taken care of), Raven board to driver board to SS relay, maybe a SPI RTC and a onewire temperature sensor. Later I'd move the scheduler into the Raven. This code is more complicated as my wife wants really complex scheduling.

While searching for a network cheap board with IPv4 networking I also found the Multitech Ethernet boards basically $35+ wired ethernet to serial IO boards. I could use these to throw cheap micro-controllers (MSP430, PIC, AVR, etc) on the Ethernet and do simple tasks to but (mostly built) wireless for $50 looks to be a good deal.
 

linuxha

Active Member
Did you consider using WiFi?
Yeah, the Multitech WiFi board was $85. This is more an experiment into 802.15.4, IPv6 and a little fun with the AVR. I'm not quite sure how to go about programming this thing for low power (networks are typically continuous burn) but the suggested setup would run about 8 years on a 1.5v battery. I doubt that's practical. I can't see that working within a network but I'm wiling to find out. I need a wireless wake on LAN (might still be possible). If I were to use something like a Netgear WGT634u (I've got several). it would probably run near 6 - 12 W continuous. These boards are meant to run on low power (my Linux server is a 4W SheevaPlug, 7W with a 2T USB hard drive).
 

az1324

Senior Member
Did you consider using WiFi?
Yeah, the Multitech WiFi board was $85. This is more an experiment into 802.15.4, IPv6 and a little fun with the AVR. I'm not quite sure how to go about programming this thing for low power (networks are typically continuous burn) but the suggested setup would run about 8 years on a 1.5v battery. I doubt that's practical. I can't see that working within a network but I'm wiling to find out. I need a wireless wake on LAN (might still be possible). If I were to use something like a Netgear WGT634u (I've got several). it would probably run near 6 - 12 W continuous. These boards are meant to run on low power (my Linux server is a 4W SheevaPlug, 7W with a 2T USB hard drive).

Yeah trying new tech is fun. What about the microchip 802.11b modules?
 

linuxha

Active Member
Did you consider using WiFi?
Yeah, the Multitech WiFi board was $85. This is more an experiment into 802.15.4, IPv6 and a little fun with the AVR. I'm not quite sure how to go about programming this thing for low power (networks are typically continuous burn) but the suggested setup would run about 8 years on a 1.5v battery. I doubt that's practical. I can't see that working within a network but I'm wiling to find out. I need a wireless wake on LAN (might still be possible). If I were to use something like a Netgear WGT634u (I've got several). it would probably run near 6 - 12 W continuous. These boards are meant to run on low power (my Linux server is a 4W SheevaPlug, 7W with a 2T USB hard drive).

Yeah trying new tech is fun. What about the microchip 802.11b modules?
I'm not familiar with this MicroChip module (hmm, $45 not bad). I'll stick with the Raven for now as everything I need (cpu, RF and JTAG interface - I have a MKII JTAG) but it's good to know about the module, thanks.
 
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