Steam Gauge Keeps Track of Your Internet Usage

Pressure Gauge Used to Monitor Internet Usage

There’s a certain appeal to analog gauges in a vastly digital world. [Ed Konowal] is a Network Operations Supervisor for a school district in Florida — part of his job is to ensure a stable and fast internet connection, so he decided to make an internet usage gauge for his office.

What we really like about this hack is the fact that [Ed] had no idea how to do it. It’s a simple enough idea, right? Google was his friend and Ed started learning about all kinds of things. Raspberry Pi’s and Arduinos, wireless receiver/transmitters, servos and steppers, Python…

After quite a bit of trial and error, [Ed] eventually settled on a wired design which uses a Raspberry Pi running a Python program to poll the internet bandwidth, which in turn calculates the servo position for the dial and sends that number to the Arduino to move it into position. This repeats every 10 seconds. Pretty cool!

Kind of reminds us of this project to make custom gauges using a stepper motor breakout board!

[Thank Justin!]

14 thoughts on “Steam Gauge Keeps Track of Your Internet Usage

  1. Very nice, but this has been done quite a few times. Actually this seems to be a copy of this project called the “Internet Pressure Gauge” from back in 2008.

    http://handley.org.uk/fzz/?page_id=62

    Only difference is it has a Pi running the show now.

    I suspect Google was most definitely helpfull in making it…

      1. Nonsense, just use a couple transistors to amplify the average power in the data cable and send it over to the heating coil.

        Alternatively, use a REAL steam engine with an electromagnet to manipulate the governor.

        I like this game.

        1. Pfft. Have each bit tripping a very tiny electromagnet to dispense a little more coal in the boiler. More traffic = more steam pressure. Win.

          1. I would advise instead to put a small child to the task, there are so many of those. and there is ample replenishment

  2. I almost didnt click on the comments as i presumed they would all be bashing the overkill of a pi and arduino to do this. HAD is practically trolling with this post. Pretty gauge tho, drove past annan just yesterday :)

  3. Is he actually selling the software via kickstarter? Since it most probably uses some GPL or similar license code, should he be obligated to provide it for free?

    1. The GPL doesn’t obligate you to give software away, only to distribute the source with the binary or make it easily available to anyone you give the binary. Or use a SAAS, with GPLv3. It is perfectly permissible to sell GPL software, even software you didn’t create, as long as you follow the license.

      In practice, though, the first person you sell it to gains the right to distribute it to anyone, so that limits your ability to continue selling it.

  4. Amusing site to visit with noscript. Assuming you are amused by seeing a white page with a long list of URL’s and nothing else.

    Quite astounding that people make sites that are that completely relying on scripting. Although I still com across sites completely dependent for ANY functionality or display on flash.. so it certainly can be worse.

    1. Because everyday people are lured by sites like Wix.com that offer a new way to make beautiful web sites. Don’t create HTML, just download massive amounts of software to the browser– the new modern approach, just like what happened to HealthCare.gov.

      Besides no support without scripting it’s invisible to search engines. It’s also very slow, taking 18.5s to load on my high speed DSL with 1.2MB downloaded for 1 page (.9MB of javascript).

      A RPI and Arduino and servo? Where is the elegance in a more optimized design? It would be nice to report the average energy use for all projects reported. Then the “cheap” RPi might not be so cheap. A more interesting approach would be to use a $10 ARM development board from ST, NXP, etc with ethernet, connected to a stepper motor.

      1. Well, this very page takes about two seconds on average just to load scripts, and I am blocking half of them. It is really silly that over a third of the data usage for this page is executable (interpretable really) code. That is a ton of unsigned, unverified, code of unknown affect to just let it run willy-nilly on your system.

  5. This is one of those articles that that annoy me most – not because it isn’t “cool” or a “hack” but because it doesn’t have one of the most “essential” ingredients – “reproducibility” – to me if it isn’t readily reproducible it didn’t happen. Whether it’s “usage” is valid or not it’s “look and feel” is fantastic – I would give my left arm for one of these 20th century steam gauges – alas it would cost my right arm – and I need it.

    Any one else feel the same way?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s