Covered Topics

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remote Monitoring and Control With Arduino

For many years, I have wanted to have my own device for remote monitoring and control via the Internet. With the advent of inexpensive embedded microcontrollers, and Arduinos specifically, this has become relatively easy and cheap. Indeed, IT people needing an inexpensive solution for monitoring server room conditions are turning to "rolling their own" Arduino-based environmental monitoring systems.

In the aftermath of the Japanese Fukushima disaster, scores of home hobbyists built their own Arduino-based radiation monitors and connected them to the Internet so others could view the collected data. Indeed, one can buy a complete Arduino-based Geiger counter kit for under $100.

A few months ago, I bought my first Arduino board for $39 at MicroCenter. It is the "Sparkfun" kit shown in the picture below. One also needs the USB data cable (sold SEPARATELY) to get started - I was MOST annoyed that the kit that supposedly came with "all you need to get started" LACKED this most essential item! Several days later, I made a special trip to MicroCenter (that's a 70 mile round-trip!) to get the cable; the one they sold me did NOT fit the connector on the board! Fortunately I later found another cable here in my lab that fits my Hitachi USB hard drive also fits the Arduino. If you want to work with Ethernet enabled code, you'll also want the Ethernet "shield" - a plug-in board which adds this functionality.

Next, one needs some basic information on how to get started building various types of sensors and designing code to make them work. I found the following FREE resources online:

Environmental Monitoring eBook

Atmospheric Monitoring eBook

Both of these books are also available in paperback format if you want to pay for them. I found them on eBay in the 9-12 US dollar price range.

As I find time to work with my board in my VERY busy schedule between working 3 part-time jobs, I'll post updates here.

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