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Topic # 62369 5-Jun-2010 09:12
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Hi,

I hope this is the right forum - I couldn't see anywhere else this sort of thing should 'obviously' go. Apologies if there is.

I am about to build a new home and am putting in warm water underfloor heating. The system I am installing is simple and effective, from a local guy (in ChCh), but is lacking a decent control system.

I would like to control the system via my home server (running Ubuntu) and am wondering what my options are. I want to be able to setup on/off times for each day of the week - i.e. turn on longer in the weekends. I would also like to setup some way of turning the system on/off remotely - via web or email etc.

I found this USB relay which looks like it could do the trick. I just wanted to know if anyone has had any experience with this device (or similar) and if there are any other devices available out there that would do the job?

I guess I would need to use some USB-Cat5/6 adaptors since the heating system will not be located next to my server. Are there any relay type devices that run directly off the LAN/Cat5-6? Basically a LAN attached relay which would need some sort of web server that allows remote control of the relays via the IP address?

Thanks in advance!
Ben 

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  Reply # 338672 6-Jun-2010 00:54
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Hi Ben

Seems like a great idea and easily do-able. That USB relay comes with both a Windows and Linux application that are command line operated. You just need to make it so you don't have to manually type those commands.

In Windows: Create batch files for either on or off, aswell as different batch files for set amounts of time. (1 hour, 5 hours, 18 hours etc.) Then you can use Windows task scheduler to setup when you want it too happen, and pick which batch file you want too run at that time.

Linux: I'm not great with linux/ubuntu but seems the principle is the same except you will need to know/learn how to make what they call 'bash scripts' or 'shell scripts'. Seems Ubuntu has a built in task scheduler also so that should be able to run them, failing that there seems to be plenty of freeware 3rd party task scheduler programs.

Hope this helps and hasn't confused you more. If you need any further help let me know and I'll be glad too assist.

Regards
Kylan




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  Reply # 338714 6-Jun-2010 09:30
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Thanks Kylan,

Yeah have had my Ubuntu server for a couple of years now so think I should be able to get a few simple cron jobs setup to turn the relay off/on when required. Not sure how to get the remote stuff working, maybe via email? I know you can setup Outlook rules to fire off a batch script if/when an email arrives - not sure how easy that is do on Linux.

I guess I was more interested to know if there were any other devices out there that might be better suited to this type of thing, or is this USB relay the way to go?

Thanks for your reply,
Ben 

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  Reply # 338719 6-Jun-2010 09:39
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Regarding the Linux side of things all you need to do is put the turn on / turn off commands in a Cron Job. Cron is the standard way Linux schedules things. There's heaps of tutorials up online for doing it.

You can even program up a simple PHP page to issue these commands, thus turning off/on your underfloor heating (or other things) by getting the PHP page to issue these commands, that's assuming that the USB Relay doesn't need root at all :)

Hope this helps.




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  Reply # 338870 6-Jun-2010 20:57
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Does the water boiler plug into the wall or is it hard wired?
If it just plugs in, set it to ON, and then use a 7 day timer from mitre 10.

If it is hard wired, go to beta electrical, find a part number and any info if you can and then take it to the installer and ask if they can use it.




Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)
www.ruralkiwi.com

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here




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  Reply # 338883 6-Jun-2010 21:35
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A couple further hardware options:
Arduino is a popular PC interface, can be controlled by PC or set to run a program.
http://nicegear.co.nz/electronics-gear/arduino-duemilanove/

Great libraries online so you might find the script you want.
http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/GeneralCodeLibrary

Plus you can get an ethernet interface for the unit itself.
http://nicegear.co.nz/electronics-gear/arduino-ethernet-shield/

---
Or this from jaycar with an ethernet interface builtin
http://jaycar.co.nz/productView.asp?ID=KV3595&CATID=25&form=CAT&SUBCATID=432
Although it doesnt look particularly flexible for programing.

Looks like a cool project, would like to know how it turns out



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  Reply # 338904 6-Jun-2010 22:44
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Nice one Nick - I hadn't come across those options - appreciate it!

Ideally something with a built in webserver would be great, but that one from Jaycar does look a bit too simple for my needs. 

The Arduino stuff looks to be very flexible. Will do some more digging with that.

Will keep ya posted. 

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  Reply # 338927 6-Jun-2010 23:45
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The relay board from Jaycar looks like the best bet to me. Since it's all embedded. No doubt it will be just as hackable.

You could use a Arduino but the problem is you have to build everything yourself, but in saying that you could add some smarts to it like a Thermocouple & get it to turn on when the temperature reaches a certain threshold. You could also add a serial based display showing the current temperature of the house, the underfloor heating status and even show Twitter messages etc. Or get your underfloor heating to send a tweet when it's switched on.

Really, the opportunities are endless with a project like this.

I too would like to hear what you do :) - Sounds like a fun project!




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  Reply # 338930 7-Jun-2010 00:11
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That jaycar one does look good - a computer could be scheduled to open a browser with the correct address that performs the action (on/off) at certain times.

I also got one of these a while back for a hilltop radio repeater
http://www.hamtronix.com.br/crd_us.html

I believe you can control it through the serial port. For me, the farmer's telephone line has an old external faxability splitter on it - and so this device picks up whenever i dial the faxability number and i can switch the devices on / off by using a telephone. You might find that helpful, with the advantage of the serial port which could allow you to control it from your linux server.

I cant remember if the jaycar one had telephone features - looked at the kitset instore and decided i wanted one prebuilt and bought this one. But if you think you might want telephone control, this could be helpful.




Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)
www.ruralkiwi.com

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here




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  Reply # 343784 21-Jun-2010 14:57
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I use ubuntu to monitor temperature, so you may as well add that to the mix as well.

The chip (ds18b20) is about $7.00 from http://www.sicom.co.nz/

The software is digitemp (apt-cache search digitemp)

http://martybugs.net:80/electronics/tempsensor/hardware.cgi

http://lena.franken.de/hardware/temperaturmessung.html

 
Plug it into one serial port and chain up lots of temperature sensors (they all have a "mac address", so you can ask for the temperature from a specific one)

Cheers
Mac
Whangarei

.....



sudo digitemp_DS9097 -w -s /dev/ttyS0 
DigiTemp v3.5.0 Copyright 1996-2007 by Brian C. Lane
GNU Public License v2.0 - http://www.digitemp.com
Turning off all DS2409 Couplers
.
Devices on the Main LAN
281D7F240200003C : DS18B20 Temperature Sensor

#initialise and write conf file
sudo digitemp_DS9097 -i -s /dev/ttyS0 -q -c /etc/digitemp.conf

read all sensors
digitemp_DS9097 -a -s /dev/ttyS0 -c /etc/digitemp.conf
DigiTemp v3.5.0 Copyright 1996-2007 by Brian C. Lane
GNU Public License v2.0 - http://www.digitemp.com
May 02 16:06:23 Sensor 0 C: 23.06 F: 73.51

============


 

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  Reply # 343789 21-Jun-2010 15:18
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SumnerBoy: Hi,

I hope this is the right forum - I couldn't see anywhere else this sort of thing should 'obviously' go. Apologies if there is.

I am about to build a new home and am putting in warm water underfloor heating. The system I am installing is simple and effective, from a local guy (in ChCh), but is lacking a decent control system.

Ben 


Is this in a concrete slab?, if it is then the thermal mass means that there is little point of turning it on or off for short periods, (a day or two), because once the pad has cooled to any significant degree it will take a number of days to warm up again. - probably why the controller they have is fairly simple

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  Reply # 343802 21-Jun-2010 15:50
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I see some of the prices for those control boards are up there a little (although I guess in the grand scheme of things they're not too bad). If you're a DIY type then I've certainly had success in the past with using a parallel port to control things (toggle some of the output pins hi/lo as req'd). Just feed a relay or whatever directly from the output.

You can also in some cases toggle 'odd' lines in a serial port (dts/rts etc), or if it's just a single application that requires controlling you could simply send a stream of data from the txd port and 'rectify' the output via a diode/capacitor to then feed the base of a transistor/opto or relay etc. A couple of bucks with an afternoon of programming thrown in and you're away :-)

If your motherboard doesn't have a parallel or serial port then some of the usb -> serial/parallel converters may well do the job although it could take a little experimenting before you got one to work.

Cheers, P.



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  Reply # 343806 21-Jun-2010 15:54
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Yeah it is in a concrete slab - and yes I agree there is little point switching it on and off for short periods. It is more of a pet project to get it all working remotely etc. Can possibly extend to control other things in the home...

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