Sensing and Control for hobbyists and schools- Examples

The fun of all this is devising your OWN ideas... but here are some of mine, just to get you started....

If you have premises with an always-on broadband connection, you don't need to pay for anything more to set up a system that lets you monitor those premises from anywhere on the internet.

My home's burglar alarm is already fairly sophisticated, and I have no lack of ideas for extending it. PIRs and other sensors detect intruders, detect my wishes (alarm off, on downstairs only, on throughout house.) The system controls a little bleeper that tells me things like "Yes, I noticed you want the alarm turned on", a big bell on the outside of the house that tells neighbors "burglar" (one noise) or "fire" (different one). When I'm in bed, parts of the house which won't visited in the night are supervised, and the heating is turned down. The heat can be turned down when I'm out, and programmed to come on a little before any family member is expected to return.

I have a large stairway with big skylights overhead. The upper reaches of this space become very hot in the summer, even when the downstairs is still cool. A fan (actuator) could be installed which would "stir" the cool air up into the hot air. A simple thermostat could not handle this work... there are days when upstairs is 80 when downstairs is 60.. a good time for the fan to run, but other days when it is 80 upstairs and down.. so running the fan would be pointless. Two temperature sensors (and the fan) would do the job! The system could also be programmed not to run in the night, when the noise might annoy people trying to sleep. It could also be programmed to run the fan for, say, only 20 minutes in any hour, to prolong it's life.

A greenhouse not only needs careful control of temperature and light, but the plants will benefit if humidity is managed. Sensor- controlled pumps can be used to water the plants.

Even if you don't have a greenhouse, you may have house-plants. How about an automatic watering solution for them? You can even get into hydroponics if you want to extend the idea a little. Interested in a simple device for that? I have a whole page about an automatic plant waterer for you.

PIR (passive infra red) motion detectors can be attached to systems to detect when people are in a space. The system could respond by turning on lights, selecting CCTV channels... use your imagination! Have fun!

I've done a separate page for you with the details of a way to safely add computer control to your home heating (or air conditioning).

Feed the dog! There was a COOL website where you could feed a dog! (Don't worry: Various animal welfare issues have been addressed. It's most fun if you watch what's happening in New York, so broadband is best. (Do remember to come back here after you feed him? (His name is Denver.)) (At 20 Oct 2009, I got "cannot connect" but I'm leaving the link, in case the outage was temporary.)

I'm building a system that will control a device to provide food when clever mammals tickle the sensors between 9:30 and 11pm. Raccoons are my intended clients. It will be interesting to see if others master the "Feed Me" mechanism. I'm afraid my system won't be online. I may also "open the cafe" to bushy tailed tree rats for an affordable window during the day.

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