Saturday, September 19, 2015

89: I Installed a LIVE System!
(after 2+ years of messing around)
-- Revised below 10/11/15 --

Until recently, I have assumed that when it came to installing a real life system I would base it on a Raspberry Pi. But then the Particle Photon came along. Three weeks ago I installed Particle Photon in my granddaughter's farm hoop house (they used to be called "green houses"). It is programmed to support 2 temperature sensors, 2 soil moisture sensors and it provides control of 2 switched devices: an electrified deer fence and a water valve for drip irrigation. Here's the smartphone web page image:

as of 10pm, September 15

Data comes from my Photon program via Particle's "cloud" interface. The electric fence is normally turned on and off by time-of-day (the cloud provides UNIX-like time functions). But that timing can be overridden by the web page above (password secured).

I originally intended to use a Raspberry Pi but the $19 Photon's simple web interface trumped the Pi's many advantages (especially the mature software development environment).

However, the Pi is not all together out of the picture: a Pi-based cron task checks on the Photon every few minutes and sends text messages if anything has gone wrong. It also accumulates statistics and provides a specialized weather report.

The Photon, sensors, switches and wiring cost under $70. My control program in C++ is about 80 lines long (originally, now expanded to 200 lines).

Does anyone know of a reliable motor setup for safely rolling the sides of the hoop house up and down (to control inside temperature)?

Revision: I've added more information on this setup (answering questions) at --

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