Got My littleBits Cloud Starter Bundle!

By Tuesday, September 23, 2014 0 , , Permalink 2

As mentioned in the last weekly review, I just got my first littleBits kit. It’s a Cloud Starter Bundle, and it looks fun.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it first. The most interesting part, as far as I’m concerned, is the cloudBit. With this module, it should be easy to turn any DIY-electronics project to a connected IoT thingy. I thought I’d use it to improve my connected A/C project, by replacing the laptop that drives the Arduino with the cloudBit. To do that, I need to change the way I get feedback from the A/C, which is something I wanted to do anyway.

In my original connected A/C project I determine the state of the A/C by listening to beeps from the control unit. This approach has several drawbacks:

  1. It requires something that can listen to beeps, and analyze them. Currently it’s the laptop that I use as a bridge between the Arduino and the world. I guess I could do it using the Arduino itself, or a Raspberry Pi. But it would add complexity, and require extra hardware to enable listening.
  2. It is susceptible to mistakes. The laptop is close to the sound source, but not close enough to detect with 100% reliability. It may miss beeps.
  3. It is passive. I cannot monitor the state of the A/C without sending a command to change it. It doesn’t solve the scenario where I’m out, and I want to verify that I turned off the A/C.

Given the above, I want to improve my existing project. If I can do it with the littleBits stuff, that’s a bonus.

The improvement I’m seeking is a way to actively detect the current state of the A/C with high reliability, without needing to change it. Ideally, I’d want to monitor the full state – on/off, temperature, mode, and fan speed. I think that Sensibo is supposed to do that, once they complete the project and ship (I backed the Indiegogo campaign the minute it started 🙂 ). Until that happens, I’d be happy to detect just the power state (on / off).

The state monitoring solution must be non-destructive, as the A/C is a central unit in a rented apartment. One idea I have is to find a way to monitor the A/C power consumption. If I could do that in a non-destructive way, I should be able to differentiate between on and off states. But I’m not sure how to implement it…

Do you have an idea how I can monitor the A/C power consumption? Or any other idea on how to actively determine its state without changing it? I’d love to get more ideas, so I can go ahead and make it happen! 🙂 I’m OK with purchasing extra hardware, as long as it’s cheap enough.

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