The Blog

MicroSD Cards

I have been busy getting the first 50 devices ready, and by next week we should be able to provide sample quantities and serve the pending orders around here. There are currently 11 wattmons running and the oldest of them has been working since December without a single problem.

MicroSD Cards

One issue I was worried about is that the microsd card might wear out since the program writes to it once a minute. However, after researching this it would seem that there is no problem provided we continue to use sandisk. Their cards are extremely fast compared to the toshiba card we experimented with, so much that when I had the other card in I thought that there was a major bug in the firmware that was slowing it down! Anyway, even if I were to write to the card once every five seconds, sandisk claims it should work for 97 years! That is more than enough for me...

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Wattmon 1.60 and Pricing

It has been a while since the last post, how time flies. The next 50 devices are in production and will be ready soon. Pricing has been fixed at 12600 INR including tax, in USD that is $230. This includes one wattmon device, one modbus dual current sensor, and power and Ethernet cables. Online ordering will soon be possible.

The new firmware version 1.60 has added several features, most important of which is the integrated actions support. This means that actions which are triggered will work more reliably and not consume too many system resources. Actions are used to control things or inform you of system errors. WattmonSolar 1.06 is also available for download. This also has a few tweaks and new features such as improved graphing with an additional option to count zero and non zero values for any graph able data item. This makes it simple to view the number of hours of sunlight on your panels or the number of hours an appliance was run for in a day.

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Getting closer to release!

Wattmon is getting ready to be released! As the programming of version 1 is coming to a close the possibilities and opportunities for using wattmon seem endless. I have already installed a wattmon to control a three phase bore well pump in a remote location over 3G. It uses level sensors to control the pump and ensure the tank is never empty, this will shortly be interfaced with a modbus compatible power meter to log energy usage, and voltages and email somebody when things go wrong.

From basic energy metering, wattmon has grown to become a tool for monitoring and control of water! And this took no time to do since everything was set up using actions. Actions in wattmon let you switch on or off inputs, send en email, access a URL, or set a variable based on a set of trigger conditions. For example, the pump setup has one action to switch on a digital output when two digital inputs (high and low tank level) are off. A second action switches the output off when the high water level sensor is on.

In a more complex example, at our office we have a charger which is controlled by a wattmon relay. Several actions determine when the charger is switched on to maximise the usage of the solar panels. At night, the relay switches on when the battery percent drops below 90 and off again when it reaches 95. This could be set to any value but that's just what works for us. During the day a different set of actions are active and the relay only switches on when the batteries go below 50% which could happen on a cloudy day.

An easy to use interface makes it possible for anybody without programming knowledge set up detailed conditions to trigger actions, opening wattmon up to the world of home automation. Since most home automation controllers are sold for over 350 US dollars, wattmon could find a market in the low end home automation sector where basic control is required but budget is limited.

The temptation is to keep adding features to this already versatile device to try and foresee all scenarios but there comes a time when one must freeze the feature set. The WattmonSolar package which is installed by default on the box is specifically designed to monitor off grid solar setups and battery banks. Dual current sensors monitor both in and outbound current and battery voltage, and calculate battery percentage remaining. Logs and graphs provide information on daily generation and consumption, as well as voltage and percentage throughout the day. As this is the primary purpose of wattmon, this is the feature set that is most important. For the hobbyist, a whole other range of features are available.

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Firmware 1.52 and WattmonSolar 1.03

Firmware rev 1.52 is now available for download, along with WattmonSolar 1.03 which brings a bunch of new features. The most important addition is the package manager and firmware manager which allows you to automatically download and install updates from within the wattmon device. Interface Page
An Interface page in the control panel lets you optimise wattmon to run on GPRS connected routers by using JavaScript includes from the server instead of locally.

Data Collector
The data collector page lets your create data groups which will be logged to csv files, and in the next release these can be used as data sources for graphs.

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