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FarWatch (DS043)- Remote premise monitoring.

If you have premises with an always-on broadband connection (it doesn't have to be via a static IP address), and you want to check up on them at any time, from anywhere in the world, via the internet, then this page is for you! You won't have to buy anything... but if you like the free stuff, there are enhanced products available as shareware.

This page tries to give you an overview of a system I use to keep an eye on such a premise. I've written another page with more detail, if you want to know more.

THIS PAGE (the one you are reading) is also where the download button is for the program I've written which is one way to fill one of the needs of the total FarWatch system. The program provides a way to make a file change periodically. The button is farther down the page.

If you visit either of the following FarWatch pages (which will open in new tabs or windows)....

...you can usually see an example of the system in action, although there are times when one or the other site is not online. Both of the sites above have "fancy" FarWatch installations. You can have the core elements (temperature monitoring, remote access) easily. You don't need to go to the lengths required for the fance set ups in the demo sites. For the images at those sites, you need to scroll down the FarWatch page. If the image quality is poor please be advised that that is nothing to do with FarWatch, which is merely relaying an image captured by other means.

If the general ideas behind FarWatch were not what you came here for, perhaps the keystroke-by-keystroke How To guide to setting it up will address your wants?

Going back to the general nature of FarWatch: I can check what's up at the monitored premises from any internet terminal with nothing more than that PCs web browser. No accounts, no software, no nothing is required on the machine I check up from.

At the monitored site, I have a cheap Win 98 PC running. It has a simple consumer-grade always-on broadband connection. There are three pieces of software running in that PC.... all of which are available free over the internet...

- Apache web server
- DynDnsUpdater
- FarWatch (DS043)

The first is a very well established open source product. Don't be scared! Setting up a web server isn't hard! And a mere Win 98 machine will do fine. Details elsewhere.

The second, DynDnsUpdater, is a program that you need to run if you do not have a static IP address. (This is the case for most entry level internet consumers.) The program keeps the nice people at DynDns up-to-date as to your current IP address. They in turn "tell the world" where to find your computer.... so YOU can find your computer when you attempt to go to it to check your monitored premises from afar. Along with the program, you need an account with DynDns... but that too is free... there really are no "tricks" on this page! Again: set up isn't hard, and I provide details elsewhere.

I supply, free, the last piece of software. You can download it without any registering, etc. If you have the skills, you can replace it with anything that will create a file someplace on your PC, and change the contents of that file from time to time. That changing file is "the secret" of the whole FarWatch system. The system lets you look at that file from afar. What you see in the file will be what you can know about the premises you are monitoring.

For example: If you are worried about pipes freezing, you get the program to write the premise's current temperature in the file. The free version of my program is able to do that... but you need to install some extra hardware, which is not free... sorry! (Third party stuff... beyond my control!) However! You do not need to use the temperature reporting part of the program. In which case, your remote monitoring will consist of checking that the program is still running. That will at least tell you there hasn't been a power failure. (Alternatively, if you want it to survive power failures, there are ways to ensure that.)


FarWatch- DS043

Download button, introduction....

A zip archive containing DS043 and some operating notes is available from the link at the start of this sentence.

If you download and unzip that archive, you will obtain the application that creates the changing file on your machine. It comes to you in it's "as you run it" form. There's no need to run a setup program with those "Next" buttons which should scare you... WHAT IS THE SETUP PROGRAM CHANGING IN YOUR COMPUTER?? My program does not make changes to the registry. You can put it in whatever folder suits you. When run, it will create a file on your machine... that is its job, after all! But you can, via an ini file, tell the program where you want that file, and what it is to be called.

Even if you have your doubts about Apache and DynDns, you can install my program, run it, see what you think. You'll just have to use your internet browser (Opera, Firefox, or Bill's thing) to check and re-check the file that DS043 is creating and re-creating.

For that level of testing, that's almost all you need. (You will need to install the 1-Wire drivers, even though you won't be using them. Sorry. If this is a BIG problem, please email me, after reading the "install the 1-Wire" page?) To use the whole FarWatch system, you do have to install the other two elements I've described, and if you want temperature sensing, there's hardware and software to install for that... again, as already described.

Click here to download the zip. (This is just a second way to get the same thing that there was a link for above.)

I've written another page with more detail, if you want to know more. There's also a detailed guide to setting up a FarWatch system.

My program CAN use a MicroLan to take temperature readings at the monitored premises, and include them in the report that you can access from afar. It will entail purchasing the MicroLan hardware... less than $50 for an adapter and two 1-Wire sensors, all you need. If you don't have those things, you may want to visit my introduction MicroLans and 1-Wire technology.!)



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