If you build your own devices or hack on devices that someone else has built, you know the feeling of opening a serial terminal and seeing a stream of sensor data coming from your device. However, looking at scrolling numbers gets old fast, and you will soon want to visualize them and store them – which is why experienced makers tend to have a few graph-drawing and data-collecting tools handy, ready to be plugged in and launched at a moment’s notice. Well, if you don’t yet have such a tool in your arsenal, listen to this 16-minute talk by [Alex Whittemore] to learn about a whole bunch of options you might not even know you had!
For a start, there’s the Arduino Serial Plotter that you get for free with your Arduino IDE install, but [Alex] also reminds us of the Mu editor’s serial plotter – about the same in terms of features, but indisputably an upgrade in terms of UX. It’s not the only plotter in town, either – Better Serial Plotter is a wonderful standalone option, with a few features that supercharge it, as [Alex] demonstrates! You don’t have to stop here, however – we can’t always be tethered to our devices’ debugging ports, after all. Continue reading “Supercon 2022: [Alex Whittemore] On Treating Your Sensor Data Well”
[Ovidiu] cares for their house plants, trying to dial in the perfect soil humidity and light levels. However, many cheap monitors tend to rust after a few weeks of sitting in a damp, slightly acidic environment. By creating a custom plant monitor with a removable probe, not only can [Ovidiu] integrate better with their Home Assistant setup, but it will also be less wasteful.
The build starts with an ESP32-S3, a TP4056 charging circuit, a small e-ink display, and an AHT20 IC for air humidity and temperature. The ESP32 reads the probe using the capacitance measuring devices for touchpads built into the chip. Or course, a 450mAh battery provides a battery life of about 11 days. The probe is just a bare PCB with a connector at the top, making them cheap and easy to swap. They included pads on the probe for a thermistor for reading soil temperature, but this is optional. A handsome 3D-printed case wraps it all up nicely.
Continue reading “2023 Hackaday Prize: A Reusable Plant Monitor”
Measuring local rainfall has real practical uses, especially in agriculture, but most of us will have to admit that it’s at least partly about drawing cool graphs on a screen. Whatever your motivation, you can build this open source electronic rain gauge designed by [Sebastian] of Smart Solutions for Home, and integrate it with Home Assistant.
This 3D printed rain gauge is of the ubiquitous tipping bucket type and uses a magnet and hall effect sensor to detect every time the bucket tips out. The sensor is soldered to a custom PCB with ESP32 configured using ESP Home. By keeping it in deep sleep most of the time and only waking up when the tip of the bucket, [Sebastian] estimates it can run about a year on four AA batteries, depending on rainfall. The hinge mechanism is adjustable to ensure that both buckets will tip with the same volume of water.
FDM 3D printed enclosures are not known for being waterproof, so [Sebastian] coated the PCB with varnish to protect it from moisture. This worked well enough that he could leave it running in a bowl of water for a few hours without any ill effects. The end result looks good and should be able to handle the outdoors for a long time.
Building a weather station is a popular DIY project. Some of the interesting varieties we’ve seen are powered by supercapacitors, show readings on antique analog dials and convert parking distance sensor kit into a wind gauge.
Continue reading “DIY 3D Printed Rain Gauge Connects To Home Assistant”
Integrating non-smart devices into your home automation system can be a cumbersome process, involving the wiring of multiple modules. However, [Pricelesstoolkit] has created the ESPClicker — a compact, ESP8266-based module that can remotely “press buttons” and simplify this process.
The ESPClicker’s core feature is its three relays that can be soldered to the button terminals of any existing “dumb” device, as [Pricelesstoolkit] demonstrated with his coffee machine in the video after the break. One of the relays can also be configured in the normally closed configuration. A compact twelve pin connector provides a removable wiring interface for the buttons, additional relays, power and even a contactless power detector that can be wrapped around an AC wire.
[PricelessToolkit] has done several Home Assistant related projects, and we recently featured his little Home Assistant controlled guardian bot. We’ve also seen other project that make use of ESPHome, like a iPod style scroll wheel and a LEGO train set.
Continue reading “An Elegant Solution For Smart Home Device Integration”
While fixed sensors, relays, and cameras can be helpful in monitoring your home, there are still common scenarios you need to physically go and check something. Unfortunately, this is often the case when you’re away from home. To address this challenge, [PriceLessToolkit] created a guardian bot that can be controlled through Home Assistant.
The robot’s body is made from 3D printed components designed to house the various modules neatly. The ESP32 camera module provides WiFi and video capabilities, while the Arduino Pro Mini serves as the bot’s controller. Other peripherals include a light and radar sensor, an LED ring for status display, and a speaker for issuing warnings to potential intruders. The motor controllers are salvaged from two 9-gram servos. The onboard LiPo battery can be charged wirelessly with an integrated charging coil and controller by driving the bot onto a 3D printed dock.
This build is impressive in its design and execution, especially considering how messy it can get when multiple discrete modules are wired together. The rotating caster wheels made from bearings add an elegant touch.
If you’re interested in building your own guard bot, you can find the software, CAD models, and schematics on GitHub. If you’re looking to add other gadgets to your Home Assistant setup, we’ve seen it connect to boilers, blinds, beds and 433 MHz sensors.
Continue reading “A Guard Bot For Your Home Assistant”
The greatest threat to a potted plant stems from its owner’s forgetfulness, but [Sasa Karanovic] has created an automation system that will keep his plants from getting too thirsty. Over the past year [Sasa] has been documenting an elegant system for monitoring and watering plants which has now blossomed into a fully automated solution.
If you haven’t seen the earlier stages of the project, they’re definitely worth checking out. The short version is that [Sasa] has developed a watering system that uses I2C to communicate with soil moisture, temperature, and light sensors as well as to control solenoids that allow for individual plants to be watered as needed. An ESP32 serves as a bridge, allowing for the sensors to be read and the water to be dispensed via an HTTP interface.
In this final part, [Sasa] integrates his watering system into a home automation system. He uses a MySQL database to store logs of sensor data and watering activity, and n8n to automate measurement and watering. If something isn’t quite right, the system will even send him a Telegram notification that something is amiss.
If you think automation might be the best way to save your plants from a slow death, [Sasa] has kindly shared his excellent work on GitHub. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, this is still a great example of how to develop a home automation solution from scratch. If you’re more interested in television than gardening, check out [Sasa]’s approach to replacing a remote control with a web interface!
Continue reading “Automation Allows You To Leaf Your Plants Alone”
Good old nRF24L01+ wireless modules are inexpensive and effective. Well, they are as long as they work correctly, anyway. The devices themselves are mature and well-understood, but that doesn’t mean bad batches from suppliers can’t cause hair-pulling problems straight from the factory.
[nekromant] recently got a whole batch of units that simply refused to perform as they should, but not because they were counterfeits. The problem was that the antenna and PCB design had been “optimized” by the supplier to the point where the devices simply couldn’t work properly. Fortunately, [nekromant] leveraged an understanding of the problem into a way to fix them without going insane in the process. The test setup is shown in the image above, and the process is explained below. Continue reading “Fixing NRF24L01+ Modules Without Going (Too) Insane”