After building devices that can read his home’s electricity usage, [Dave] set out to build something that could measure the other energy source to his house: his gas line. Rather than tapping into the line and measuring the gas directly, his (much safer) method was to simply monitor the gas meter itself.
The major hurdle that [Dave] had to jump was dealing with an ancient meter with absolutely no modern electronics like some other meters have that make this job a little easier. The meter has “1985” stamped on it which might be the manufacturing date, but for this meter even assuming that it’s that new might be too generous. In any event, the only option was to build something that could physically watch the spinning dial. To accomplish this, [Dave] used the sensor from an optical mouse.
The sensor is surrounded by LEDs which illuminate the dial. When the dial passes a certain point, the sensor alerts an Arduino that one revolution has occurred. Once the Arduino has this information, the rest is a piece of cake. [Dave] used KiCad to design the PCB and also had access to a laser cutter for the enclosure. It’s a great piece of modern technology that helps integrate old analog technology into the modern world. This wasn’t [Dave]’s first energy monitoring system either; be sure to check out his electricity meter that we featured a few years ago.
[HD Moore] recently posted an article on Rapid 7’s blog about an interesting security problem. They’ve been doing some research into the security of automated tank gauges (ATGs). These devices are used at gas stations and perform various functions including monitoring fuel levels, tracking deliveries, or raising alarms. [Moore] says that ATGs are used at nearly every fueling station in the United States, but they are also used internationally. It turns out these things are often not secured properly.
Many ATG’s have a built-in serial port for programming and monitoring. Some systems also have a TCP/IP card, or even a serial to TCP/IP adapter. These cards allow technicians to monitor the system remotely. The most common TCP port used in these systems is port 10001. Some of these systems have the ability to be password protected, but Rapid 7’s findings indicate that many of them are left wide open.
The vulnerability was initial reported to Rapid 7 by [Jack Chadowitz]. He discovered the problem due to his work within the industry and developed his own web portal to help people test their own systems. [Jack] approached Rapid 7 for assistance in investigating the issue on a much larger scale.
Rapid 7 then scanned every IPv4 address looking for systems with an open port 10001. Each live system discovered was then sent a “Get In-Tank Inventory Report” request. Any system vulnerable to attack would respond with the station name, address, number of tanks, and fuel types. The scan found approximately 5,800 systems online with no password set. Over 5,300 of these stations are in the United States.
Rapid 7 believes that attackers may be able to perform such functions as to reconfigure alarm thresholds, reset the system, or otherwise disrupt operation of the fuel tank. An attacker might be able to simulate false conditions that would shut down the fuel tank, making it unavailable for use. Rapid 7 does not believe this vulnerability is actively being exploited in the wild, but they caution that it would be difficult to tell the difference between an attack and a system failure. They recommend companies hide their systems behind a VPN for an additional layer of security.
[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.
[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.
Continue reading “Building a coffee roaster from junk”
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.
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.
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]