Logs For A Toilet

The Internet of Things, as originally envisioned in papers dating to the early to mid-90s, is a magical concept. Wearable devices would report your location, health stats, and physiological information to a private server. Cameras in your shower would tell your doctor if that mole is getting bigger. Your car would monitor the life of your cabin air filter and buy a new one when the time arrived. Nanobots would become programmable matter, morphing into chairs, houses, and kitchen utensils. A ubiquity of computing would serve humans as an unseen hive mind. It was paradise, delivered by ever smaller computers, sensors, and advanced robotics.

The future didn’t turn out like we planned. While the scientists and engineers responsible for asking how they could make an Internet-connected toaster oven, no one was around to ask why anyone would want that. At least we got a 3Com Audrey out of this deal.

Fast forward to today and we learn [Christopher Hiller] just put his toilet on the Internet. Why is he doing this? Even he doesn’t know, but it does make for a great ‘logs from a toilet’ pun.

The hardware for this device is a Digistump Oak, a neat little Arduino-compatible WiFi-enabled development board. The Digistump Oak is able to publish to the Particle Cloud, and with just five lines of code, [Chris] is able to publish a flush to the Internet. The sensor for this build is a cheap plastic float switch. There are only three components in this build, and one of them is a 4k7 resistor.

Right now, there are a few issues with the build. It’s battery-powered, but that’s only because [Chris]’ toilet isn’t close enough to a wall outlet. There’s a bit of moisture in a bathroom, and clingfilm solves the problem for now, but some silly cone carne would solve that problem the right way. [Chris] also has two toilets, so he’ll need to build another one.

47 thoughts on “Logs For A Toilet

  1. Any time I see that classic 8266 shape I get PTSD like symptoms. That module is the bane of my existence, I’ve never gotten the bloody thing to work across two computers, about 5 different types of modules and reading more tutorials and studying more schematics than I care to count.

    1. I’ve gotten those cheap modules to work but they all eventually die …they are basically crap. Never had one that kept running for more than three months without developing a fatal problem. Switched to MKR1000 and never looked back.

      1. I can’t even get them to program reliably. Every 10th try it might start and finish the programming and then it only sometimes boots up and works. Extremely unreliable things, but the price is very nice… And some people obviously gets them to work so… very frustrating.

  2. *sigh*. There’s nothing wrong with it being battery powered. In fact, it should be battery powered. What is wrong (assuming you don’t have a fetish for changing batteries) is using an ESP8266…

    1. It could still run for a really long time if you know what you’re doing. On startup, send a message and go to the deepest sleep possible. Make the float switch reset the microcontroller.

    1. “The Poop shelf toilet (I did not coin that name) is a relic of Germany and some other regions in Europe that isn’t in circulation so much anymore, but since our house happened to be built a long time ago 2 out of our 3 toilets are of this variety. It works completely differently than a standard toilet. Instead of having a standing pool of water, the toilet is essentially dry (except for a very thin pool of water) and the bottom of the toilet is flat – like a shelf. When you flush the toilet, a torrent of water rushes from the back of the bowl towards the front, sweeping everything in its path like a tsunami into a drain in the front. On the plus side, it works…you’re not going to clog a poop shelf toilet no matter how matter how many kilos of hard cheddar you ate before bed last night.

      But the one fatal flaw of the poop shelf is that anything that should happen to ‘settle’ on the poop shelf remains exposed to open air. Some expats have come to describe this as the “lay and display” method. It’s all fully and completely exposed, able to breathe into the air like a spring bouquet of roses…”


      Makes it easier to inspect your poop, though it’s certainly not exactly an automated process.

      1. Poop shelf toilet!? They have a name? I encountered one of those in a hotel on a business trip once.
        Let’s just say I’m not a fan, and I’m glad to have never seen one elsewhere.

  3. I thought it was about someone who’s building a cabin in the woods and used some leftover logs from that build to construct an outside toilet. But in some way this is way more interesting.

  4. There is a condition where one’s life is interfered with by fascination with, err, far too fascinated with…

    No, no, no, no. This must be an innovative burglar alarm. He’ll be alerted when the toilet is used any time the home is supposed to be vacant. Right?

    Facehugger clock and now this? HAD? Whassup?

  5. So, yet another twitering toilet. How about some innovation – make it report useful things, like:
    when the bathroom is out of paper
    when the toilet is plugged
    when somebody left the seat up (for home models)
    (Or automatically put the seat back down before other people find out you left it up.)

      1. Why should us humans be inconvenienced by such diversions. Holders are too low to begin with, they’re too close to that “cloud” when you flush. Mount not much higher and a cat won’t find the lure to such fun.
        There must be more fecal in the “cloud” with one of those German toilets with the diving shelf.
        The “cloud” does not refer to the internet.
        Seat up before flush. Leave up. It’s cleaner that way. The “cloud” is further away from it’s most used area.

        1. No kidding about the “cloud”.
          The Mythbusters had one episode where they tested toothbrush bacteria in its relation to how far away from where the business is done. It is everywhere.

  6. So if this is seen as a health minister monitoring device, it will only work if you are the only person who uses the particular toilet (which, as previously discussed is likely if one is building such devises), if by chance there is another person who uses the toilet then the obvious solution is to implant an rfid into each potential users buttocks so that in can properly log the appropriate logger.

  7. “Cameras in your shower would tell your doctor if that mole is getting bigger.”

    Or could also be used to link up with websites that would allow for extra revenue to be made for some shower users.

  8. Gee. It’s apparent these ARE the hacks folks are looking for.

    OK… show of hands; (to check who washed.)

    Well… lessee here, what can we measure? If ‘yer gonna IoT the thing, may as well be comprehensive.

    Note the door position to get start, end, and total “in use” times. Indirectly monitor acidity by measuring conductivity of the “waters” to determine urine present. Weight sensors in the seat to determine if was standing or seated… if seated then collect the start and end weights to calculate weight of “the deposit” as well as narrow down the user identity. An immersible photosensor and light source in the trap to determine if there was a solid passing through. Water temp sensor to verify expected temperature rise. A wave sensor could help identify when the dog is drinking from the toilet and trigger flushing to discourage or provide a fresher, cooler drink, or that you forgot to flush. Count the rotations of the toilet paper roll to determine if paper use is excessive, skipped, or cat again. Monitor sink handle position to verify hands washed. IoT all this to your facebook page so as to prove to last night’s date that you’re a “clean fellow”.

    Am sure I missed a few…

    Seems.. err… yes, very useful to you.

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