Tag Archive: CurrentCost


Now my 2nd Raspberry Pi has turned up I can (re)start work on my home automation project.

Previously I’ve setup a wireless sensor network (WSN) comprised of a number of jeenodes (http://www.jeelabs.org) using the RFM12B to connect back to central jeelink usb plugged into a repurposed orange livebox router (running http://www.homeautomationhub.com). Additionally I installed a number of CurrentCost individual appliance monitors (iams) and a EnviR energy monitor plugged into the home automation hub (hah) to monitor and log household and appliance level energy consumption. Refer to some old blog entries: https://tickett.wordpress.com/category/home-automation/. All of the data was being sent to pachube for logging.

I wasn’t too keen on the home automation hub as I didn’t really fully understand it and couldn’t push it where I wanted to go (although the community was really good and I imagine I will be seeking assistance from them in connection with the new project :)

In my new setup I intend to use a Raspberry Pi the "hub"- with a "full blown" linux distribution (debian?) I should hopefully be able to accomplish everything I am looking for. As python is the first language discussed in conjunction with the raspi I’ve started playing with that, but eventually may move to a LAMP solution (php with mysql backend for logging and apache web front end).

Here’s a high level summary of the steps I’ve covered:

The python example from the link above didn’t produce any output for me so I modified it slightly:

import serial, sys
ser = serial.Serial('/dev/ttyUSB0', 57600)
while 1 :
sys.stdout.write(ser.readline())

That’s all I have time for now- watch this space.

L

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Just logged in to see a few improvements / updates to the http://my.currentcost.com dashboard. Compare daily usage for week periods:

Record gas & water consumption (not tried these yet):

And finally- record consumption cost (to the nearest penny isn’t going to give very accurate cost estimates but it helps):

Meanwhile Enio (http://www.enio.co.uk) has now been down for over a week.

L

More Home Automation Chat

I’m away from home at the moment so not much to report. I’ve not had a chance to install the water meters with my friend yet nor connect the gas meter to the hah but I have taken delivery of a bunch more jeenodes and room plugs:

Starting to put one together:

I now have 3 nodes collection temperature, light and humidity data and posting to pachube along with my total household power consumption and appliance level detail for 6 devices:

Whole house power consumption:

An example of individual device consumption (this happens to be the boiler):

Room data:

I’ve tried to create a "naming convention" where the data stream id contains the nodeid (first digit) followed by 1 for temperature, 2 for light and 3 for humidy.

You can quite clearly see where the temperature rises in line with the boiler coming on. You can also see the light pattern during the day (wow- it’s getting dark real early!!!). Humidity isn’t really of much interest.

Interestingly I think node 2 is in the same room as the receiver/hahcentral/hub but seems to drop out every few hours. Node 3 in the room next door is rock solid. And node 5 in the room next to that is extremely flakey! Brett from over at hah has suggested lengthening the antenna on the nodes to resolve these issues- I will do some experiments when I have a little more time on my hands :)

And one final note- whilst on the topic of "home automation". I have replaced my sky boxes in recent months with the Clarke Tech ET9000: https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/getting-started-with-clarke-tech-xtrend-et9000-and-sky-hd-uk/ and pipe the picture round the house from these and my home theatre pc (htpc) running xbmc with a cheap 4×4 HDMI matrix I picked up off eBay. I now have full control over these devices from my mobile phone (iPhone):

DreaMote Lite (for Enigma2 satellite receivers):

And XBMoteC (for XBMC):

All slow, but steady progress toward a completely integrated/automated home!

L

Home Automation Progress

An update since last week.

I decided I’d like to keep my CurrentCost netsmart pro posting electricity consumption data to pachube so spliced into the cable to see if I could pickup on the serial data using my home automation hub without disrupting communication between the enviR (CC128) and the bridge.

Taking the leftmost pin of the two connectors with the notch/clip facing downwards the pins are joined as so:

RJ45 -> RJ11
1 -> 1 (Yellow)
4 -> 2 (White)
7 -> 3 (Blue)
8 -> (White)

Rather annoying that they used white for 2 of the cores! On my USB serial cable for the enviR the pinout was as so:

RJ45
4 (Red) -> Spliced into White (pin2)
7 (Green) -> Spliced into Blue
8 (Yellow) -> Spliced into White (pin8)

After hooking the bridge, enviR and usb up to the laptop I could see data coming in over through the serial port- voila!

I punched the CurrentCost details into the hah web interface:

Then configured the extra data streams to pachube:

Just waiting for a few hours for some data but it appears to be flowing in nicely:

<eeml xmlns="http://www.eeml.org/xsd/005"xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.eeml.org/xsd/005 http://www.eeml.org/xsd/005/005.xsd" version="5"><environment><data id="2"><tag>Light</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="3"><tag>Humidity</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="1"><tag>Temperature</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="13"><tag>CCIAM3</tag><value>44.00</value></data><data id="12"><tag>CCIAM2</tag><value>157.00</value></data><data id="11"><tag>CCIAM1</tag><value>5.00</value></data><data id="15"><tag>CCIAM5</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="14"><tag>CCIAM4</tag><value>82.00</value></data><data id="10"><tag>CCTotal</tag><value>415.00</value></data><data id="16"><tag>CCIAM6</tag><value>0.00</value></data></environment></eeml>

I took delivery of the two water meters today- just waiting for a friend to help me fit them and my additional jeenodes to arrives so I can get the data into the hah!

The crazy looking squid thing is the cheapest usb hub I could find to allow me to plug both the jeelink and currentcost enviR into the hah at the same time- hideous but does the job :)

L

Just opened up one of my IAM’s to see what’s inside (I was hopefully it might have an ATMEGA like the bridge/netsmart) but no such luck:

The chip in the bottom right I think is a CS7760: http://www.chipsea.com/doce/product-detail-93.html (used to convert energy to pulses?)

Then on the reverse of the PCB the PIC16F689- so it doesn’t look like I’ll be doing anything much with it in a hurry!

L

Current Cost OptiSmart

My OptiSmart arrived this afternoon from Current Cost and I immediately dismantled it :)

Fairly amusing to see how tiny the circuitry was, and that the batteries are taking up 80% of the space inside the device!

The board itself looks pretty straight forward (although my knowledge is pretty limited in this area). I can see the RF module and a PIC chip with what appears to be a header available for reflashing?

My gas meter has an RJ11 connector with 2 wires staying open about 80% of the dial on the meter then closing for the remaining 20%. I hoped to replace the standard sensor with a straight forward RJ11 cable.

I spliced into the cable which comes with the OptiSmart (to read the blinking LED from newer meters) but couldn’t determine what each of the 4 wires in the sensor cable was doing. *EDIT* Upon further investigation, it appears the green wire is GND and red is +3V. Shorting any combination of them didn’t seem to count a pulse on the EnviR display so it doesn’t look like I can connect it to my gas meter as simply as I was hoping. *EDIT* Cracked it :) Join the green and brown wires then place the reed switch between the red and black wires- voila!

I need to adjust it to convert from cubic feet of gas consumed to the equivalent watts but then i’m all set!

I will likely try more experimenting tomorrow- worst case scenario I guess I could fashion a circuit which blinks an led on the opening or closing of the RJ11 connection but it seems a bit mad to need to go that route!

L

NetSmart Pro 24

Got home from work and the NetSmart Pro 24 (aka Current Cost Bridge) was waiting for me (along with 3 more Individual Appliance Monitors). Hooked it all up and seems to be ticking along nicely:

I could use another 3 monitors but am hoping to use the last few channels to monitor gas and potentially water.

That’s all for toady!

L

Energy Monitoring Update

So I’ve neglected the whole energy monitoring interest for a few months but spotted the new CurrentCost Individual Appliance Monitors (IAMs) are finally available (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Current-Cost-IAM-Pack-1-UK-Version-Only-/170673700726?pt=UK_AudioElectronicsVideo_Video_TelevisionSetTopBoxes&hash=item27bcf1ff76) so ordered a few and started playing again.

In addition to monitoring overall household consumption I now have the fridge, servers and living room a/v equipment each giving their own power readings BUT these are not currently posted to the internet using my original CurrentCost bridge. After doing a little reading it appears a new bridge has been released now branded as the CurrentCost "NetSmart". You can send off your existing device to be upgraded (presumably a firmware flash): http://currentcost.com/netsmart-upgrade.html or buy new.

Upgrade pricing:

£5.99- NetSmart 12 (12 month subscription with up to 3 additional energy data channels)
£7.99- NetSmart 24 (24 month subscription with up to 3 additional energy data channels)
£11.99- NetSmart Pro 12 (12 month subscription with up to 9 additional energy data channels)
£14.99- NetSmart Pro 24 (24 month subscription with up to 9 additional energy data channels)

New pricing:

£34.49- NetSmart 12
£37.49- NetSmart 24
£39.94- NetSmart Pro 12
£45.94- NetSmart Pro 24

I opted for the NetSmart Pro 24. I’ve yet to receive the device but I’ve seen a sneak peak of what to expect on the forum:

The other addition to my existing system I’ve been wanting to see is the ability to monitor gas and hopefully even water consumption. Neither have officially been delivered BUT a new device is available which may help achieve one or both of the aforementioned: Introducting the CurrentCost OptiSmart- http://currentcost.com/product-optismart.html

The OptiSmart can be used as an alternative to the clamp/transmitter that originally shipped with the energy monitor(s) if (and only if) your electricity meter is compatible. The same device can in theory be used to read gas and water meters should they contain a pulsing LED to indicate consumption. Unfortunately, mine do not! However, whilst examine my gas meter (Slumberger R5) I found an RJ11 socket which after some research appears to provide direct connectivity to the pulses! With a bit of luck the lead on the OptiSmart can be modified to plug in to this RJ11 socket. I’ve sent an e-mail to CurrentCost to see if they can confirm this before I order one. If that fails I may try with the CurrentCost development board.

I mentioned in a post a while back that Google were retiring their Powermeter service so I’m still on the lookout for a replacement service (or building something myself).

After a bit of research I discovered CurrentCost are already feeding the energy consumption and temperature to pachube. There is a nice little pachube app which utilizes google’s charting ability:

You can find your feed_id in the http://my.currentcost.com dashboard (on the right side in the devices section):

Unfortunately only a month’s data is currently retained (this may be a limitation with the free pachube account being used to post the monitor data?) and I really want years of data so I can compare same time last year figures etc. The search continues…

I also stumbled across the Home Automation Hub: http://www.homeautomationhub.com/ which is an open source project which involves ref lashing a Livebox to interact with various devices (including the CurrentCost energy monitor). I really like the idea of this as there’s so much more potential for two-way communication and other applications (linking in nicely with some of my other long term goals) but at the moment I’m going to shy away from it on account of the language being new to me and the apparent lack of current community support.

Expect another update once the NetSmart device comes through and potentially after a start logging gas consumption!

L

Shopping List :)

A comms cabinet, patch panel and some patch leads:

Some cable management and wall sockets:

More cable management, UPS, new router, fibre, and cisco ip phones:

You may’ve also noticed the currentcost IAMs so I will be able to break down my energy consumption at a lower level (currently I can only see overall consumption).

L

A lot smaller than I thought it’d be! I did have to register at http://my.currentcost.com to get the data to Google Powermeter but there’s no fee and adding the device was a doddle!

L

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