Hardware – what we currently have

This morning I have made a quick list of the hardware I currently have or have access to. Looking at this I can then decide which task I want to tackle first and what I need to buy.

We currently have:

  1. A collection of old thermostats
  2. Some old baseboard heaters
  3. A now working pellet stove
  4. A collection of computers and parts
  5. An A/C Unit with a fan and ducts
  6. Various computers, parts, wi-fi and an iphone
  7. Access to a 3D printer

Pellet stove/Baseboard heaters

The pellet stove works great so we will be keeping this. It also has the option of being controlled via thermostat so we could have the system turn it on/off as needed. I’ll be digging through the user manual to see if there is also some way to interface with the stove to grab error codes (for example if the stove runs out of pellets). If not since the error codes are displayed on several LED’s there might be some way of scraping this data via a web-cam and using it.

The baseboard heaters are very inefficient, however these will have to stay for the moment. Once I have built the system to control the thermostats I am going to look at what other options we have for heat/electricity sources, however this isn’t an immediate priority.

A/C Unit

The A/C unit, fan and duct work can be leveraged to pull heat through the house and warm other rooms. I want to be able to control this via the system as well. It currently uses a Honeywell thermostat and controller which is programmable. I’ll be looking through the manual on this  to see if it can be interfaced with, if not I’ll consider replacing the controller with something that can.

This however can wait for the moment as it works pretty well and since we don’t have central heat isn’t of immediate concern.

Thermostats

The thermostats are old, crappy and some look like they have seen better days. They are also a mash of different brands and don’t look very nice. Most importantly they can’t be controlled remotely.

Old thermostat

Old thermostat

Due to their placement they are also susceptible to being knocked into and turned on by accident. A few also have dials that don’t look as if they turn off properly. If you get to work and realize you left one switched on you have no way of turning it off until you get home.

We will be getting rid of all of these.

Computer parts/3D printer

I also have a collection of computer parts and several machines running a range of O/S including Mac Lion, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, XP and Windows 7. Some of this will be useful, however for the device that controls the heating system I want something small and compact, that can be mounted on a wall. We also have internet access and wi-fi of course.

Finally I have access to a 3D printer via a co-operative at my work (more on this in a separate post). I’ll be able to use this to print out cases for thermostats I custom build and any plastic parts I might need.

Summary

My first task is going to be to replace the thermostats. I’ll need to find out exactly how to build one and the parts that are needed.I’ll also need to become familiar with how to wire them up. Once they are working I can then start looking at the controller.

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