Adding fireplace control to your home automation

fireplace-automation

[James] has an admirable home automation system which he’s been working on for years. It does things like monitor the state of the garage door, control the lights, and it even notifies him of a power failure. One thing that wasn’t on the system yet are the fireplaces he has in his home. The hardware you see above is how he patched into the fireplace remote control system in order to automate them.

The remote control uses RF to communicate with a base station. Unlike controlling home theater components which use IR, this makes it a bit more difficult to patch into. Sure, we’d love to see some reverse engineering of the protocol so that a simple radio module could be used, but [James] chose the route which would mean the least amount of hacking on his part. He soldered wires onto the PCB for the buttons and connected to them using reed relays. These let the Arduino simulate button presses.

With the rig connected to the home network he has a lot of options. The system can sense if the house is occupied. If it determines that no one is home it will switch off the fireplaces. [James] also mentions the ability to monitor for carbon monoxide or house fires, switching off the gas fireplaces in either case.

Building a coffee roaster from junk

[Rxdtxd] has tried his hand at roasting coffee beans in a frying pan. It works but he can only roast small batches at once. What he really needed was a large-scale roaster that would have no problem with a few pounds of the green beans all at once. He ended up building this large-scale coffee roaster out of junk parts.

The vessel which holds the beans is the drum from a top-loading washing machine. It was headed for the junk pile, but the fully-enclosed drum is perfect for this purpose. After acquiring it [Rxdtxd] set out welding a frame that would hold either side by the pivot points. He used a geared motor to automate the process. The output shaft on the gear box is meant to drive a chain, but he just welded some pieces onto the gear to use as a coupling.

In the picture above he’s giving the roaster a thorough testing with about ten pounds of beans. A portable gas stove placed below the rotating drum supplies the heat. After the beans have reached the desired darkness he pours them out into a large skillet to cool. Take a peek at the roasting action in the clip after the break.

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The Gas Cap senses your flatulence and displays it on your forehead

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if there’s any possible way to let those with deficient olfactory senses know just how flatulent you are, wonder no more. The Gas Cap is here to fulfill that very need. A bar graph of sorts, located on the front of a hat that will light up to reflect the amount of methane sensed near your, uh, exhaust port. This project cost around $100, though a good portion of that went to the Xbee modules so that the detector could be separated from the hat, allowing for remote fart notifications.

This seems to be a project that is not as uncommon as one might assume. We’ve seen fart intensity detectors as well as tweeting chairs that alert the world when you pass gas.

[via Adafruit]

Overly complicated gas guage

While this is most likely overkill for a gas gauge, we do thank [VadimS] for sharing the information. He shows us how to build a capacitive liquid sensor using an Arduino, some foil and some wire. He’s basically detecting the difference in capacitance between the foil sheets. As he gets more water in the bottle, the capacitance goes up. At least we think thats what is going on. He has included the source code for the Arduino, both for handling the sensor and running the LCD display shown in the picture above. When completed, this will be used in his dune buggy for a gas gauge.

Real time gas monitoring

With the weather getting colder, [Daniel] decided it would be a good idea to monitor how much energy his gas heating was using in real time. He used a Nokia 6680 cameraphone to monitor the heater’s flame through the sight glass. PyS60, a Symbian implementation of Python, checks the image sent by the camera and measures how much blue flame is visible. These values are stored in a SQL DB on the phone that can be polled over Bluetooth. At the end of the billing cycle,  he’ll be able to correlate the amount of gas used with what the phone reported.

[Thanks, florent bayle]