I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes
Green-thumbed techno junkies rejoice! For today, we’re going to take an introductory, prototype look at what it takes to digitally monitor the soil moisture content of a common houseplant so we know when to water it. We’re talking about using a single board computer to read from a soil moisture sensor from an Analog to Digital Convertor (ADC) and toggle an indicator LED using Digital Input and Output (DIO). Specifically, we’re going to be using a TS-7250-V2, but this guide can apply to many different boards.
As you may have seen in my TS-7970 Home Security Systems video on YouTube, I took a TS-7970 quad core single board computer and built it into my very own home security system using the open source software Zoneminder. This product works very well for the two camera system that I have hooked up. In case you didn’t get a chance to see the video, I wanted a security system that was cost effective and still worked well with the capability to expand if I so desired. I was referred to Zoneminder by a good friend and coworker of mine. Since I work at Technologic Systems I thought it would be cool to be able to use one of our boards to build up this camera system. After getting approval to use one of our boards my journey began on making my very own security system a reality.
Imagine this: You have a five-year-old son who has grown tall enough, and smart enough to open the door to your home office, packed with all your super fun gizmos and trinkets. It has a lock, but being the lackadaisical creature you are, you forget to lock it. You’ll only be gone for a minute or two, after all! Well, that was just enough time for your son to sneak in, rip up all the jumper wires from your breadboard, find a permanent marker, and well, you know how this ends.
In this (oddly specific) example project we’re going to be coming up with a solution to avoid such a disaster by building a wireless, internet connected, SMS door alert system using:
BACnet is a data communication protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks. Developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), BACnet is a national standard in more than 30 countries around the world, and an ISO global standard. It was created to have a unified communication system for different devices across different manufacturers. Manufacturers of BACnet devices create a wide range of monitor and control modules, from basic IO, to analog, to specialized devices such as gas monitors.
Print Your Own Baseplate for Development and Prototyping
A new development baseplate and accessories for the TS-7670, TS-7680, and TS-7970 are now available for 3D printing. The main baseplate features standoffs for securing the single board computer (SBC), clip mounts for cable management, and tabs for attaching accessory boards. The accessory boards include a full sized breadboard mounting plate, and two (vertical and horizontal) half-sized breadboard mounting plates with compartments for organizing resistors and components. Two different sized cable clips are also included. You can download the STL files for 3D printing by referring to the product webpage in the resources tab, or directly here:
In a continuing effort to usher their spa into the 21st century and stay top of mind with customers, Bozeman Hot Springs set out to provide real-time pool temperature data for their customers. They found an off-the-shelf solution with Technologic Systems which could integrate with their existing commercial automation controllers and serve temperature data over a REST API.
Blistery cold weather is starting to sink in, which ought to ignite an instinctual desire to get your house in order and monitor it so the water pipes don’t freeze and burst. So, we’ll take a timely look at a project setting up some temperature probes in various areas, reading them, and reporting in a custom dashboard. A true home automation expert would take things further by setting up relays to turn on heat tape or even maybe some actuators to control water flow. Maybe next year, but for now, we just want to be able to monitor important areas of our home (in this case a cabin in Montana) and understand temperature patterns over time for better planning. As with most projects, there is more than one solution, especially if it depends on what you have on hand. At the time, the list of things in hand were as follows:
Real-Time Company Announcements and Information Using Multiple Touch Panel PCs
This project aims to improve the communication of company events, key performance metrics, and collaboration through several strategically mounted touch panel computers (TPCs) throughout the building. It also serves as an inspirational digital signage application for potential customers using our TPCs. Skimming through the technical details, you’ll find the screens are powered by our very own TS-TPC-8950-4900, a 10” resistive TPC running Debian Linux, a fullscreen, kiosk-mode browser, and a custom node.js web app.
Eliza Nelson, our Field Applications Engineer, takes some time during the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Minneapolis to show us a demo on the new TS-SILO super capacitor, power reserve solution. In the video, a TS-7680 equipped with onboard TS-SILO gets it’s power feed mercilessly taken away in an ever lasting loop every minute or so. Thanks to the TS-SILO, it has time to gracefully shutdown each time. Power is restored, the TS-SILO gets fully charged again in under a minute, and power is ripped away again. Enjoy the video!
It has long been regarded that the UNIX-like OS NetBSD is portable to every type of machine except perhaps your kitchen toaster. Technologic Systems, however, has conquered this last frontier. Using the rugged, embedded TS-7200 single board computer housed inside the empty space of a standard two slice toaster, Technologic Systems has designed a functional NetBSD controlled toaster.