Laser Power Meter Sensor

I signed the papers on my first house today! In celebration, I started looking for some home hardware hacks, but stumbled across this old (2003) laser power meter sensor. If you like to scare off the power guys, this is the way to go. [jake] used a laser pointer, probably a PIC and some sort of photo sensor to count the revolutions of his meter.

21 thoughts on “Laser Power Meter Sensor

  1. Yeah try pulling this off in florida or anywhere else for that matter and the power company will be knocking at your door.. they are running into people stealing energy alot thesedays and that rig is a eye catcher

  2. Here in Pinellas County in FL they replaced all the meters with digital ones that can send their current reading via RF to a power company guy creeping down the street to collect the months totals. No more going into peoples back yards to manually read the meters. So unfortunately this hack wont work as theres no spinning disc in the things. Just a 7seg LCD display. But it does bring up the idea of making a device that can read the Rf signal and display it in the house. Which brings up another idea of weather its possible to create a spoof signal that the meter maid could pick up with false numbers rather than the actual meter. Maybe ill do some research…

    For people like me that cant use this hack theres a device out there called The Energy Detective that does the same thing with tons of more features. The thing is really a nicely engineered device, I got one just because I was so impressed by it. It uses amp clamps between the main breaker and the meter and some sort of X10 device to communicate to a base display unit inside the house to display KWH usage and other stats. But it is rather expensive, at $140 i think.

  3. Im supprised more area’s havent switched over to digital meters, even if they were still reading em the old fassiouned way, theyd probly be more accurate, not to mention costing a hell of a lot less.

  4. Well if all else fails one can actually read the meter. A nearby utility “reads” their meters by the meter sending a digital signal directly to the office via the power lines. AFIK the meters retain a human readable display.

  5. chupa, I too live in Pinellas County,FL and was going to post about the rf meters. I would think trying to spoof the signal would be a bad thing. I mean, they no doubt thought of that themselves before they installed the units, so they must have some way of being sure the signals they get are legit. And I would be willing to bet that if they caught someone spoofing the signal they would 1) take them to court and 2) cut off their power, permanently.

    I like the clamp idea though. It would be nice to get a ‘second opinion’ on how much power you’re really using, just in-case those meters from the power company aren’t as honest as they may seem ;)

  6. Im sure the signals the Rf meters send out “SPOOF PROOF” but I believe anythings possible. With the right equipment/info it would be possible to spoof the signal. And yes its probably illegal. But like i said before, you could also maybe use the information to display the info on a device in your house. Im gona do a little research on the matter. The maker of the meter is Itron. The model is Centron:
    FCC ID: SK9C1A-3

  7. When I worked at a company who made electricity meters, another engineer had produced a prototype device that attached to the front of a mechanical meter (like this one) but used an LED+optical receiver to ‘profile’ the reflection of the disc and spot when it repeats (i.e. one revolution completed). One that I played with used the optical interface (what appears to be two spots surrounded by a large metal washer) that are present on most digital meters (as a hint, try sending /?[CR][LF] at about 9600… ;-)

  8. Where I live in NC, the local power company Progress Energy, has moved to replacing meters with ones that actually are using the broadband over powerline technology.

    I was surprised that they would be using such a new technology , but its a very rural area and I guess its cheaper than sending someone out to pick up the rf or read the meters. I have an uncle that is an electrical engineer with them , that told me what they were doing. He also said they now have the ability to turn on /off power at these homes with a single command at the main offices.

    heres a link to the tech they are using:

  9. not sure if this post is still active i’m curious, wouldn’t the broadband over power technolgy especially where it concerns turning on and off service be a huge security concern, couldn;t someone/group use this technology to tamper with those services, eg terriost group, other person with ill intention. Also on another note the best place to monitor your electrical consumption is thru a device on the line side of your meter such as the device chupa mentions in post 4, only because the laser idea relizes on the magnetic coils spinning the disk properly, which causes the meter to work the way it does, to be in good working order and if that where the case than your meter would be accurate.

  10. I deeply question accuracy of these new digital meters as well as I even more deeply question honesty of these power companies. Look, I am only heating my house with a heat pump to just 60F and it was between 28F and 42F in the last 24 hours and it ran into $9 for 24 hours which is way to much for one day! U believe with the new digital power meters the power company can now “add” to the meter secretly, so we pay more for what they don;t deliver! I am now watching my power meter every day and i noticed some sudden jumps in numbers without any reason or higher usage of power by my house. Also, last year or in 2008 when they were installing these new digital power meters there was about $60 jump in power meter readings on the day of installation. I protested it, but power company refuses to explain or credit this money to me. The last thing we want is power companies cheating their customers in such a NASTY way using the new digital “technology”! SCEG South Carolina “customer”.

  11. The new meters are variable. I’m currently in Europe and have noticed that the values alter from area to area, but I can tell you guys there is a way to hack it, without touching the meter and it doesn’t send any alarms back to the central as it still shows the usage, it just doesn’t accumulate it :)

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