Back in action… power meters and sensor probes.

So, after a six month break or so, and a 700meg database of sensor data I wasn’t actually looking at, I’m back in action!

I finally bit the bullet, bought a commercial power meter, and finished off my power meter project. It’s based on: Open Energy Monitor v3 but mine is in regular C, instead of arduinoC, because that fits in better with the common code for the rest of my nodes. (Not all my nodes are arduino compatible hardware) Calibrating was a bit of a pain, but it’s working! Now to get it boxed up and attached somewhere a bit more useful. It’s currently tying up my only spare AVR chip, so it’s not live.

What else? I bought some sexy radio boards from Dresden Elektronik that look pretty neat. Basically combining an AVR with an xbee, in a smaller package, for the same price. Why did I ever actually get into xbees? I should have done more research on the available radio options :) If I wanted just radios, I should have looked at these MRF24740 radios from Microchip I’ve got some on their way, but haven’t tried them out yet.

One problem with both the xbees and the dresden boards is that they’re on 2mm and 1.27mm pitch pin headers. This is nice and compact, but not very friendly for breadboards :)

Which brings me to customer service! Dresden actually phoned me up about 2 weeks after I bought the boards to check how I was going, and if there was any engineering help they could give me! Awesome! Pity Icelandic customs had only finally released the modules to me the day before, and I’d only just realised just how fine pitch 1.27mm really was :) Again, I should have read a bit more first.

Still on customer service, I ordered some pin headers from Samtec Seems 23pin female sockets, 1.27mm pitch are not something that mouser/farnell/RS stock, but Samtec is actually one of those lovely manufacturers who ship small quantities direct, worldwide, for reasonable prices! Excellent! So excellent in fact, that they shipped out the 1.27mm sockets as soon as they were ready, and the 2mm ones (for more xbee based boards) two days later. So I get two _enormous_ toblerone packages (triangle tube, about 13-14cm/side, 90-100cm long?) Delivered separately, with 20 rather teensy tiny little sockets all up. I’m sure if I was in a hurry this would have been excellent, but it felt a little excessive really :)

But socket headers are not going to help on a breadboard, it’s still fine pitch. So I’m also back into PCB design again, something I haven’t done since uni.

Lots of excitement. Oh yeah, and software too of course. I mentioned at the start that I wasn’t really looking at any of the data. Well, now, I am and also in other ways making more use of the fact that I was uploading all this data to pachube for so long!

It’s good to be back, but it has meant I’ve been spending far too much time in front of the computer again :)

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