Utility Monitoring

madjalapeno

New Member
Hi,

I just bought a new house up here in sunny NH (well it was on Monday anyway). At last I can start to automate and monitor everything.

I've set up a Debian box as a media server using oxylbox, and am monitoring the weather using wview and a Davis Vantage Pro (results here: http://www.jalapeno.co.uk/weather). Now I have those 2 working reliabley, I want to move onto the next phase.

I've noticed that our electricity meter has a red light that pulses. I assume that it pulses with every chunk of electricity used. I would like to be able to monitor those pulses and record them in a graph so I can see how electricity use varies with the weather.

Our house has 4 heating zones, and uses forced hot water. I would like to monitor when the pumps are on and again log that information, along with when the boiler is actually burning oil. I have found this current sensing device (part # 6570K5) on McMaster (www.mcmaster.com) that lights a LED when current is dedected.

So my question is if anyone can recomend a way of logging the activity of all these LED's, with a mind to future extensions of the system to automate some tasks.

TIA
 

roussell

Active Member
Welcome to Cocoontech!

This is easy in Linux, just use the parallel port on the Debian box with your circuit to detect and count the flashes. I do something very similar with my power meter. A rough example to read the input pins is below. I'll dig up the actual code when I get home and post it.

Code:
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <asm/io.h>

#define base 0x379 

main(int argc, char **argv)
{
  int value;

  if (ioperm(base,1,1))
    fprintf(stderr, "Can't open port at %x\n", base), exit(1);

  value = inb(base);
  printf("Port 0x%x read value is %i \n",base,value);
}

Terry
 

politics123

Active Member
check out http://www.bwired.nl/Stroom.asp

They built a IR sensor out of a barrier kit (you know, the thing that beeps at you when you walk through a store's open door). I just built one. The kit I used cost $9 + 3 s/h=$12.

I need to confirm my electric meter, but I believe it flashes once per ever watt-hour of usage. The plan is to use a 1-wire network to read the counts and determine the usage.

You can also go the tranducer route. Or you can by this product, if you don't need to capture/log/automate based on the result: www.bluelineinnovations.com
These solutions cost about $130-$200.

I like the IR detection because its based on what the power company actually will charge you, rather than you trying to infer the usage.
 

madjalapeno

New Member
For the heating system I think I'm going to try a ibutton set up first of all (it's nice and cheap and can be accessed from perl).

Advantages are that I can monitor the outgoing and return temperatures, and see where takes the most heat.

I still want to monitor the electricity meter - think I will need to go outside and do some investigations this weekend. I'll report back (with picture goodness hopefully).

thanks for the suggestions so far.
 

keepersg

Active Member
I use products from these folks:

http://www.ezmeter.com/

to monitor the electricity usage in the apartment that we rent out and am thinking about getting another to monitor the usage in the ponds and streams. The make an interface that will work with just about any setup and software. It would work for whole house monitoring but would be expensive compared with what you're doing. On the other hand, if you want to monitor an area for power usage, these work great.
 

politics123

Active Member
Just a quick update. I finished with my soldering gun, and sure enough, my velleman LED is lighting up once for every "flash" from the utility panel.

I'm going to get the midion design log08 to record the data. Fun little project (1.5 days of work)
 

politics123

Active Member
I'm going to get the midion design log08 to record the data. Fun little project (1.5 days of work)

Nice. Will the Midon device connect directly, or are you still using some sort of 1-wire bus to pick up the flashes?

More details would be great. Thx

The minimums (and I'm going to try this route, first):
$12 for the velleman
~$30 for a counter (eg: http://www.hobby-boards.com/catalog/produc...;products_id=42 )
~$30 for a 1-wire interface, either Serial or USB
Each counter can support 2 vellemans.

The route I'm likely to go:
$12 velleman
$30 counter
$125 log08 this already include a serial interface, so you don't need an additional serial or USB interface

The difference between the first and second is whether you want to leave a PC on 100% of the time in order to log and devote resources on that computer to log data, or whether you want a dedicated piece of hardware to do it for you, and only catpure the information on a PC when you need it.

I'm curious, though, whether I can get the ELK to detect these automagically :)
 

madjalapeno

New Member
The minimums (and I'm going to try this route, first):
$12 for the velleman
~$30 for a counter (eg: http://www.hobby-boards.com/catalog/produc...;products_id=42 )
~$30 for a 1-wire interface, either Serial or USB
Each counter can support 2 vellemans.

The route I'm likely to go:
$12 velleman
$30 counter
$125 log08 this already include a serial interface, so you don't need an additional serial or USB interface

The difference between the first and second is whether you want to leave a PC on 100% of the time in order to log and devote resources on that computer to log data, or whether you want a dedicated piece of hardware to do it for you, and only catpure the information on a PC when you need it.

I'm curious, though, whether I can get the ELK to detect these automagically :)

Ahh, that's excellent, just what I was looking for. I already have a box running all the time that I am using as a media server and for my weather station (http://www.jalapeno.co.uk/weather). It's running Debian, and will hopefully play nicely with 1-wire network.

I did have a 1-wire weather network set up, but was running it on a Windows machine and had problems with the USB connection dying after a few weeks. I'm now using a Davis Vantage Pro system which, whilst being a lot more expensive, is lovely. Having the screen to show the current conditions makes for a much better Wife Acceptance Factor.

I'm also using RRD to access the wview software I'm running to make some nice comparison graphs.
 
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