Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Getting back in the groove

In Musings on Sep 30, 2015 at 00:01

This will be the last post in “summer mode”. Next week, I’ll start posting again with articles that will end up in the Jee Book, as before – i.e. trying to create a coherent story again.

The first step has just been completed: clearing up my workspace at JeeLabs. Two days ago, every flat surface in this area was covered with piles of “stuff”. Now it’s cleaned up:

IMG 0154

On the menu for the rest of this year: new products, and lots of explorations / experiments in Physical Computing, I hope. I have an idea of where to go, but no definitive plans. There is a lot going on, and there’s a lot of duplication when you surf around on the web. But this weblog will always be about trying out new things, not just repeating what others are doing.

My focus will remain aimed at “Computing stuff tied to the physical world” as the JeeLabs byline says, in essentially two ways: 1) to improve our living environment in and around the house, and 2) to have fun and tinker with low-cost hardware and open source software.

For one, I’d like to replace the wireless sensor network I’ve been running here, or at least gradually evolve all of the nodes to new ARM-based designs. Not for the sake of change but to introduce new ideas and features, get even better battery lifetimes, and help me further in my quest to reduce energy consumption. I’d also like to replace my HouseMon 0.6 setup which has been running here for years now, but with virtually no change or evolution.

An idea I’d love to work on is to sprinkle lots of new room-node like sensors around the house, to find out where the heat is going – then correlate it to outside temperature and wind direction, for example. Is there some window we can replace, or some other measure we could take to reduce our (still substantial) gas consumption during the cold months? Perhaps the heat loss is caused by the cold rising from our garage, below the living room?

Another long-overdue topic, is to start controlling some appliances over wireless, not just collecting the data from what are essentially send-only nodes. Very different, since usually there is power nearby for these nodes, and they need good security against replay-attacks.

I’ll want to be able to see the basic “health” indicators of the house at a glance, perhaps shown inconspicuously on a screen on the wall somewhere (as well as on a mobile device).

As always, all my work at JeeLabs will be fully open source for anyone to inspect, adopt, re-use, extend, modify, whatever. You do what you like with it. If you learn from it and enjoy, that’d be wonderful. And if you share and give back your ideas, time, or code: better still!

Stay tuned. Lots of fun with bits, electrons, and molecules ahead :)