Thermostats – Part 1

Overview

Having decided to replace the existing thermostats with a set of home-brew ones that can communicate wirelessly, I now need to find out  which hardware is required and get a basic drawing together of how the components will interconnect.

I found the following two websites incredibly useful as they gave an overview of projects other bloggers had completed:

http://mcmicken.ca/tag/arduino-thermostat/

http://www.desert-home.com/p/super-thermostat.html

So it looks like the thermostat will contain the following basic hardware components:

  1.  Main board (micro-controller)
  2. Temperature sensor
  3. Wireless shield
  4. Power source
  5. LCD display
  6. Over-ride buttons
  7. Wall mount
  8. Casing

I am going to start with the micro-controller. This acts as the base where I can then start to work out which components will fit onto it easily and map out how they will interact.

Arduino – Microcontroller

The other day I received a $10 coupon for Radio Shack, so I stopped by and picked up a couple of Arduino boards there. Radio Shack is more expensive than ordering online, so in future I’ll be picking up components on the web.

The boards I picked up were the Arduino Uno:

Arduino Uno

Arduino Uno

and the Arduino Proto:

Arduino Proto

Arduino Proto

The Arduino Uno is an open-source micro-controller and part of the Arduino platform, an easy to programme open source hardware and software environment.

The Uno can have a number of sensors and other components hooked up to it, and then programmed using the Arduino programming language, which is based upon Wiring (an open-source programming framework)

This piece of hardware will act as a good micro-controller for the Thermostat. Newark Electronics (the folks from whom I ordered my Raspberry PI) are also selling the Uno for $25.50 a piece. This makes replacing the existing thermostats a fairly cheap process.

As you can see in the photos above, there is also the Proto. The Proto can be used for designing custom circuits. Having this will allow me to try out some custom circuit designs before I solder components to the Uno.

I’ll now need to hook up the Uno to my Mac and download the development environment so I can start playing around with it.

The book I purchased Programming your home, has some great starter projects that will give me some practice with the programming language and the development environment in general.

The next post will detail hooking up the Arduino and getting a hang of the interface and IDE.

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