Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Room sensor board

In Hardware on Oct 10, 2009 at 00:01

At last, the latest Room Board design is starting to work:


I’m no longer calling this a plug – that’s now reserved for things which you stick into a single port. One of my “tics” is that I like to play games with abbreviations – in this case: trying to abbreviate all product names to two unique letters plus a version number. By not calling everything a plug, I get more letter combinations to play with – so this thing is the “RB1” :)

The version you see above is my preferred configuration, but it requires sensors which are a bit expensive (SHT11) and Europe-based (ELV’s PIR kit). So there is room on the board for some alternatives: the SHT11 can be replaced by a DS18B20 1-wire temperature sensor if you don’t need humidity measurements. And the ELV PIR kit can be replaced by any other PIR sensor which runs off whatever voltage you’re feeding to the PWR pins – many PIR sensors can run with 5V and have an open-collector output, though their three pins may be oriented differently. Parallax and Futurlec come to mind.

The PIR can also be replaced by an EPIR (DigiKey part# 269-4710-ND, non-RoHS). It’s low cost but it draws about 5 mA due to its on-board (“sub-embedded”?) microcontroller. The Room Board will work with the EPIR plugged into the 8-pin “PIR2” connector on the other side of the board, but you have to also move the LDR to the pins marked LDR2. The reason for this is that that the EPIR uses a bi-directional serial connection and therefore needs two signal pins. Luckily, it has the smarts to also handle an attached LDR – so the result is the same.

Here’s the Room Board with an EPIR and a DS18B20 1-wire temperature sensor:


Haven’t tested this configuration yet, but every combination of PIR-or-EPIR plus SHT11-or-DS18B20 will be supported. Once the Room Board has been fully tested, it will be listed in the shop.

The Room Board can be plugged into any two opposite ports, but the software expects one of two specific board orientations on port 1 and 4: the PIR and EPIR must be located in the middle, i.e. roughly in between all port headers. It’s easy to change the code if you need other configurations.

Speaking of code, the source code for this setup is available here, as the “Rooms” sketch. It reads out the sensors and periodically sends out the readings over wireless.

Latest news: all the plugs and boards described yesterday have now been added to the shop, as either pre-assembled or pcb-only units.There are only half a dozen boards right now, so please be patient until new ones come in. Please get in touch if you have questions or run into anything unexpected with these plugs. I’m gradually filling in all the associated documentation pages, but some of them are bound to remain skimpy for a while.

Tiny as these plugs are, they sure keep me busy!

  1. Whoo! Now put ’em in the store ;)

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