My First IoT Project – Part 1

I grew up in a home full of Electronics. My Father (✩ 1940 – ✞ 2014) was an avid Ham Radio operator (OZ5WQ, OX3WQ), and had been since he build his first Crystal radio, back around 1950. He then made a career in Electronics, at one point stationed in Greenland, fixing everything from Beogram 1200 to Furuno Radars while keeping the Local Power Plant and the Radio Beacon on Simiutaq Island running. By then, 1970, he had achieved Top Continental Scorer in CW, continent being North America, and had become a key player in local Ham Radio Communities.

Continental Champ #ARRL

Et billede slået op af Jens Vestergaard (@jens_vestergaard) den

You can only imagine what odd and crazy antenna designs the rest of the Family had to put up with, peeking at contest periods. His hobby eventually turned into work, and he and a partner created a, at the time, very advanced piece of equipment. Their machine allowed press photographers to send a developed image back to HQ via a land line, in just 3½ minutes, from anywhere in the World. The speed of which they could deliver an image, was a key selling point. The Picofax is depicted below:

Picofax

Ever since I was very young I was, as I guess most kids are, fascinated by the work my dad did. So naturally, I developed an interest in Electronics and Computers – As long as I can remember, we have had at least one Computer in the house and I think it began with the Commodore PET. That’s the first one I really remember – Playing Lunar Lander. This keen interest is now finally turning into a real project.

Currently I live with my family in a house, where we are sharing the three (3) washing machines and a dryer in the basement. For years we have had to read and note a power meter when washing started, then read it again when you are done, noting the end figure. This way we could keep track of who washes and how much. Once a year, all the readings are put in an Excel sheet and past usage is turned into a new distribution key. Each appartement then pays accordingly, to help keep the machines running and put aside a small savings for new machines as needed.
The fact that people sometimes forget to register usage, and that some owners have a hard time reading the power meter in low light conditions lead me to think, that this would be a truly great candidate for IoT on a very small scale. Perfect for getting hands-on.

My idea is, to setup a Raspberry PI 3, running Windows 10 IoT Core, attach current sensors as well as an RFID card reader. This in combination should allow me to read the power consumption and with some simple logic (thinking Finite State Machine (FSM) right now) be able to log usage and user information to a SQL Azure Database. On top of that Power BI reporting will make a nice graphic representation of each users usage on all available dimensions.

Next up: Installing Windows 10 IoT Core on the Raspberry PI 3 (Part 2).

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