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About this blog

Here is what I cobbled together the other day.  I am not sure how well it works yet, but it works in trivial cases i.e. a 40 W lightbulb and my fridge (once I had stopped stray morning light).  I am going to ask my neighbours if I can pop the Photo Diode on their meter as I don't want to stop the one that is already logging mine.

What would be good is if others, who have a lot more knowledge and skills than me (I am really just a chancer than fiddles about till it seems to work) could improve and add to it.

Things that would be nice are a remote sensor to save having to run a small bit of wire into the meter box.  A nicely made sensor cover that holds the magnet in place, and does not let stray light in.  A display, and an enclosure for the complete kit (thinking of you @Onoff and your plastic printing skills).

Remote, but not cloud based access may be interesting, but as will all new toys, after a few days, does not get used often.

Other 'things' could easily be added i.e. temperature, humidity, air pressure, but they are really stand alone items, though inside and outside temperature is useful.

 

So here it is, my feeble attempt.

What I have used to make my energy meter.

 

A shop bought energy meter

image.png.44b162879c936548933df82915e1f754.png

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/354118466147

I used this purely to test the power, 1 pulse per Wh, same as my main meter.  I will, as I bought 3 of them, use them on my 3 ‘night circuits’ once I have finished playing.

 

Some magnets with holes in the middle

 image.png.d1ee01e9900a09cf73327fcc569f0070.png

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/184928442876

These are to hold the light dependant LED onto the meter.  A suitably sized metal washer was super glued in place.

 

Some photodiodes to sense the red flashing light on the meter.

image.png.78c2cdfc5d5a4250c4bbbdf7a4824e5c.png

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/232690475106

This is the real magic, just wired in between a GPIO pin, 22 in my case and ground.  The important thing is to wire it in the ‘wrong way around’.  So the anode, the longer leg on the diode, is wired to ground, and the cathode, the short leg, is wired to pin 22.

 

A Raspberry Pi ZeroW 

 image.png.f63769877b0d0bad228a50bb670403c1.png

https://thepihut.com/products/raspberry-pi-zero-w

Just a bog standard RPi ZeroW

 

A header

image.png.b30e76d2f034532ecadcc38c642e6ad1.png

 https://thepihut.com/products/colour-coded-gpio-headers

Are useful, and I think you can buy the RPi ZeroW with them already soldered in place.  You need it to easily fit the RTC on.

 

A Real Time Clock

image.png.cc19547f571911d1dbf924eb09c8bf78.png

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/234603677979

While not necessary, I always fit an RTC (real time clock) as I cannot guarantee an internet connection all the time.  You have to muck about with the /boot/config.txt file to include the line

 

dtoverlay=i2c-rtc,ds3231

 

and edit the /lib/udev/hwclock-set file to disable the settings with the # symbol

 

# if [ -e /run/system/system ] ; then

#    exit 0

#fi

 

A USB to TTL Serial adaptor

 image.png.f6390e4394ab8ee9961485c90575650e.png

 https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/203604196200

Useful when setting up a ‘headless’ RPi.  Just make sure to change the /boot/config.txt to inclide the line

enable_uart=1

 

 

The Code

The code I have used uses Python3 and standard libraries.

After much searching and thinking, I found that GPIOZero library was quite useful (https://gpiozero.readthedocs.io/en/stable/api_input.html) as it has some useful code for a ‘button’, or switch to the rest of us.

I also, included a block of code to create a daily *.csv file that automatically changes the filename every midnight.

All the code does is sense when the light dependant LED senses light, and when that light stops, it timestamps the daily *.csv file, then wait until more light appears again.

Simple, 3 lines of main code.

 

#!/usr/bin/python3

from gpiozero import Button

import time, datetime

 

button = Button(22)

def sort_time():

            dt = datetime.datetime.utcnow()

            runday = dt.day

            dt.day == runday

            ts = time.time()

            UTC = datetime.datetime.utcfromtimestamp(ts)

            logfile = '/home/pi/monitoring/data/meter-%s-%s-%s.csv' % (dt.day, dt.month, dt.year)

            tfile = open(logfile, "a")

            tfile.write("%s"%UTC + '\n')

            tfile.close

           

while True:

            button.when_pressed

            button.when_released = sort_time

 

What could be simpler.

 

The output is presented like this.

 

2022-07-09 13:05:38.577239

2022-07-09 13:05:40.028295

2022-07-09 13:05:40.374854

2022-07-09 13:05:50.753515

2022-07-09 13:05:52.390287

 

Each timestamp is equal to 1 Wh.

 

I do all the analysis in a spreadsheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entries in this blog

Adding extra mass to buildings

As many of you know, I have been sceptical that adding extra mass to a building will stabilise the temperature.  This basically comes from when I studied this back in 2008. Just to reconfirm my suspicions that regardless of construction type, the air in a building will react more to external inputs than internal inputs i.e. solar gain, ventilation and a heating system versus thick stone, brick or concrete walls. To retest this idea, I worked out the amount of energy that is needed to c

Heat Capacity; What it is.

Heat capacity is a really simple concept, confusion comes about because it get mangled beyond belief. Some of this mangling is actually physical i.e. we change the shape of a heated object, and other mangling is with words i.e. not knowing much about the subject.   I like to stick with the physical, it is easy and, more importantly, you can put descriptive units to it.   To start with, let us look at the two types of heat capacity.   Specific Heat Capacity

Insulating Panels; Part 2

It has been a lot warmer this week, which is nice, but not so great for doing comparison testing.  While my house stayed within half a degree (17.4°C instead of 17°C) the outside air temperature was 8.5°C warmer (8.3°C compared to -0.1°C) over the test period (20/01/2024 to 24/04/2024). But no matter, I still run the tests with just an air void and the void filled with a product called Fillite, which is hollow microspheres made from silica.   Basically the same pattern was observe

Insulation is really easy

Why do people get so hung up about thermal insulation, it really is not difficult.   The main thing to remember is that the power, in watts (W, J.s-1) that passes though a material is approximately proportional to three things, conductivity (k, λ), temperature difference (∆T) in kelvin (K), and thickness in metres (m). In arithmetic terms, the thermal conductivity of a material is written as W.m-1.K-1, or W/m.K (as I have never found a way to write a superscript negative sign on m

SteamyTea

SteamyTea in Insulation

Insulation Panels

It has been a cold week, so just after 12:30 on the 15th of January 2024, I started a small, but limited, experiment. This was rather prompted by a comment by @Garald who wanted to insulate at the back of his book shelves, and mentioned our favourite insulation, multifoil.  @Gus Potter also has a project that may benefit a thin, easy and cheap to make, insulating panel.  I think I also made a comment to @saveasteading about this experiment, but can't remember in what context. Now I hav

Chart Time: Hourly Temperature decay and power inputs.

Prompted by @haddock's query here:   and my few charts to show what has happened in my house, I have finally got all my data together and after looking at dozens of charts, have reduced it to two that show the most useful information about my house cooling, or heating. Initially thinking that the difference between internal and external temperatures was the best base to chart against, I soon realised that it shows hard to understand results i.e. a larger number, the colder it is.

The energy meter experiment

I am not sure how well it works yet, but it works in trivial cases i.e. a 40 W lightbulb and my fridge (once I had stopped stray morning light).  I am going to ask my neighbours if I can pop the Photo Diode on their meter as I don't want to stop the one that is already logging mine. What would be good is if others, who have a lot more knowledge and skills than me (I am really just a chancer than fiddles about till it seems to work) could improve and add to it. Things that would be nice

SteamyTea

SteamyTea in Energy meter

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