Month: April 2015

pIoT a pico/personal Internet of Things DIY platform

This post is a follow up and an evolution of this previous one. I am pretty proud to present here a work that has been going on for more than a year. It all started with some friends at MakeSpaceMadrid. We wanted to create a super-cheap, Arduino-compatible with embedded wireless communication, electronic board. We decided to adopt the very well-known Arduino UNO ATMega 328p as microcontroller and the nRF24L01 wireless chipset as communication module, both sold for about 1€ on the Chinese market. We called our project Sensorino. We did a lot of things, but the project took longer than expected. Its code is still on github and everybody is welcome to contribute. While Sensorino was slowly being developed, I forked it on a personal, simpler project, and called it pIoT.

So what´s pIoT?

It’s a collection of three things: a hardware design for custom boards with a microcontroller and the wireless communication chip, the firmware that runs on the microcontroller and a server that collects data, shows it and executes rules. The project is open source and available on github for anyone to download or contribute.

pIoT board

A pIoT board

At the moment most of the functionalities are there: the board design is extremely simple, it’s just the ATMega328p connected to an nRF24L01+ module, the firmware contains a library for exchanging messages over the nRF24 module, a library for managing energy consumption (that is, putting the microcontroller into sleep modes) and a library for exchanging JSON messages with a host computer, the server software is programmed in java and takes care of parsing packets, visualising data on web using GWT and implementing rules using the mvel expression language. A new version of the server for nodejs is also on its way.

server

A screenshot of the server interface

The topology of the network is simple, there is one “base” node connected to a host computer through a serial port, the computer running the server code, and a set of “peripheral” nodes, which can be both sensors or actuators, that send/receive data to the base. More complex topologies are possible, but routing is not supported at the moment (for this, I suggest the very interesting RadioHead project). I am writing a tutorial for helping set up the whole thing.

pIoT topology

pIoT topology

I have created a testbed at home, with an old laptop working as server (a Raspberry Pi would also do) and two nodes, one that senses data from a plant (as already published a in previous post) and one that acts as a remote controlled colour LED. It works, and, as far as now, battery consumption is quite good. I have had the plant sensor running on two AA batteries for a couple of months.

pIoT server

The pIoT server

Garden pIoT node

A pIoT node in the garden

 

There are still things missing of course, but a complete proof of concept is already there and promising. If you are interested in the project and willing to collaborate, I will be very pleased to help!