Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Monitoring failure?

In Hardware, Software on Oct 23, 2009 at 00:01

Yesterday, the Jee Labs energy monitoring system stopped working:

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A few hours went by before I found out, because I’m not constantly checking these graphs nowadays.

Couldn’t figure out why, so I reset the sending node next to the electricty/gas meters, and shrugged it off as a fluke because it all started working again.

A few hours later, after dinner, we find out that there’s water dripping down right next to that JeeNode, but more importantly the whole meter closet is soaking wet in some places. Whoops… not good!

Turns out that there was a leak in the kitchen drain right above that meter closet. Fortunately, the problem was easy to identify. And didn’t lead to fireworks.

That was around 8 PM. Only this time the JeeNode is also soaking wet – free-hanging constructions are not such a good idea after all, I guess. Unplug. Wipe off the water. Let it dry for a few hours. Plug it back in.

OK, the energy monitoring setup is working again. Tomorrow, I’ll fix the drain pipe – properly.

The drawback of tinkering is that you always blame your own stuff when there is a failure. But in this case, it was trying to tell me about a problem coming from elsewhere…

  1. So you extend its use to detect plumbing problems.

  2. A moisture detection sensor could be made from filter paper seperating two pieces of silver foil. connect to an analog port as part of a voltage divider

    when it gets wet the voltage will change.

    useful on the kitchen floor to detect leakage from dish-washers, washing machines, sinks

  3. ok flood detector not moisture

    • Thanks – good idea. There are a bunch of spare pins on the room sensor nodes – this would make a good addition for places where leaks are possible. Nice thing is you can probably put of bunch of such sensors in parallel. Another extension I’m considering is window/door sensors. Getting all the wires in the right places is probably the hardest part, even with wireless nodes you still have to hook it up to all the different places in each room.

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