Home camp 4: London 29th-30th Oct

Next weekend Trystan Lea and I (Glyn Hudson) will be down in London for Home Camp 4 'Hack the house' event. We will be presenting our end-to-end open-source web-connected energy monitoring system. If you live within traveling distance of London please come along, we would love to meet anyone who is involved or interested in open-source energy monitoring.

Home Camp is a series of un-conferences that brings together members of the technical community interested in using open systems to bring about a positive change in the way we use energy and appliances around the home. With ever-increasing energy prices, the race is on to develop ways to utilise smart technology to help offset domestic energy consumption and lower carbon footprints.

The event will be a combination of informal presentations on the Saturday and more 'hands on' making, hacking and tinkering on the Sunday. Trystan and I will be around on both days will be more than happy to help anyone build their own open-source energy monitoring system and deploy a server installation of emoncms. We will also have emonTx, emonBase and emonGLCD kits for sale at special prices.

When: 29th - 30th Oct

Where: Central London in the Center for Creative Collaboration 

Cost: The event is now free! Registration is required on EventBrite

Who: See the event crowd sourcing page at Lanyrd 

We will also be attending the Open Source Hardware Camp on Thursday 27th Oct at the same location (C4CC). This looks like it will also be a good event: http://oshug.org/event/oshcamp

See you there, Glyn.



Introducing Megni

Now that the project is getting to the point where we almost have a complete open-source end-to-end web-connected energy monitoring system we are excited to be starting Megni a small business to provide kits and fully assembled units that aim to make it easier to get started with open-source energy monitoring.


Our core aims are to create:
  • Technology that encourages people to make and learn new skills.
  • Technology that helps us live within ecological limits.
  • Repairable, modifiable technology with a making story
  • We have been inspired by companies such as howies and Patagonia who combine their love of the outdoors with making clothing and equipment that help people enjoy the outdoors while also striving to produce those things in ways that causes no unnecessary harm. We would love to do something similar for technology.

The name Megni is made up of the welsh word for energy egni and the M part stands for monitoring or monitro in welsh. We are both welsh speakers and live in the mountains of Snowdonia in North Wales, UK.
      
As well as supplying OpenEnergyMonitor kits Megni will also offer custom energy monitoring and display services to businesses and organisations.

We are currently involved in a local community energy project which is keeping us busy for the next two months after which we are going to focus our efforts on getting an online shop up and running. In the mean time if your interested please see the buy section of the emontx documentation page.

Thanks for your continued support

Glyn Hudson and Trystan Lea

Nanode up in the mountains


Glyn took the emonBase - nanode up Snowdon last week and got some nice pics. Combining two great things: open source green technology and the great outdoors!

Not all USB power supplies are created the same


We recently ordered a load of cheap (~£1.50) USB power adapters such as this one and started to notice problems, nanode missing posts, rfm12 problems, emonGLCD crashes and so we ordered another two: one branded htc another ~£4 unbranded one which work well. The more expensive unbranded one specifically outlined that it was better quality in the ebay description.

Using the sampler program we can shed some more light on whats going on here. So first here is the cheap USB power supply:


As you can see a lot of noise, a standard deviation of 6.4.

With the unbranded more expensive adapter the standard deviation is reduced to 1.5!


The branded htc adapter is pretty similar at 1.6


USB power direct from a laptop, should be as good as it can get. A standard deviation of 1.2


Conclusion: its worth ensuring that the power adapter is a good quality one in order to get consistent performance from the hardware.

Nanode Applications weekend

We have just come to the end of two great days in London at the nanode applications weekend, an un-conference style event at the Center for Creative Collaboration CC4C bringing people together to share and explore what can be done with the nanode an open-source Arduino like board with built in web connectivity developed by Ken Boak.



Over the weekend we presented our work on our end-to-end open-source energy monitoring system, comprising of the emonTx  wireless transmitter unit, emoncms energy visualisation web-app and the emonGLCD display. Download a copy of our slides


As well as presenting we attended the event to hear about what other people are working on.

Here are a few of the highlights for us of the weekend:






  • Andrew Lindsay’s arduino sketch upload to nanode over Ethernet using TFTP.  Fantastic, glimpse of the future? http://blog.thiseldo.co.uk/
  • Nick Boyle’s home monitoring with twitter and iphone notifications (partial documentation) - he gets a notification on his phone triggered by a certain energy event in his house!
  • Great to meet Franck Oxener a long time member on OpenEnergyMonitor who came all the way from the island of Texel, Northen Netherlands.

It was fantastic to meet lots of enthusiastic people all working on similar things. Since we are based in the mountains of North Wales this is not something we do on a regular basis. London can even be beautiful, on Saturday night we were treated to a wonderful rainbow display.





Project development

As of today 285 people have signed up to be developers / contributors / users on OpenEnergyMonitor. This is fantastic, It's great to see the project expanding and becoming more collaborative. Activity on the forums has been steadily increasing, they are now a great place to discuss ideas, share problems and showcase what you have been working on. 

Thank you to everyone who has signed up and contributed to the project. 

A large number of people come with a large number of skills. We have encouraged people to write a little bit about themselves and their interest in the project when they sign up. Until now the only way to access this information was to click on each user individually in the developer section on the right hand side of the page. We now created a page to allow easy access to user profiles. This should make it easier for people with similar interests and working on similar projects to connect with each other and collaborate. The new page can be accessed by clicking on the little more link on the developers section of the right hand side of the page. 

New user profile page
We have taken this a step further by installing a messaging system which will allow users to message each other directly. Just click on a users profile then 'send this user a message' link. The messaging system is very new, shiny and largely untested. Please report any problems. 

New messaging system 

I have been working improving the emonTx design and writing firmware examples.
We are working towards opening an online shop in the next few months...exciting times! In the meantime if you are keen to get your hands on an emonTx please contact me at [email protected] or message me using new OpenEnergyMonitor messaging system.

emonTx open-source wireless energy monitoring node



Trystan has been working on documentation and improving the code for emoncms to make it more modular, easier to understand and build upon.

Follow us on twitter http://twitter.com/openenergymon for all the latest developments from OpenEnergyMonitor labs.

Cheap AC transformers are no good

The Open Energy Monitor uses an AC transformer as a voltage sensor, but the choice of this transformer can influence the accuracy of your monitor.

Jean Claude from JeeLabs (brilliant engineer BTW) investigated the difference between a bad and a good AC transformers and here are the results in images:

1) Bad quality transformer:


2)Better quality transformer:


You can read his complete post on his blog: JeeLabs Daily Weblog.

Twitter age

OpenEnergyMonitor has joined the twitter age. Follow us to keep up with current developments, find out what we'r currently working on and join the in the conversation.





How we envisage emonTx being used


Many if you might be thinking what is our motivation behind the developments at OpenEnergyMonitor and how we see our designs being used. 

Firstly we believe open-source is a better way of doing things, it is a way in which people can get involved in developing and making technology and build on the work of others. The OpenEnergyMonitor hardware builds upon the Arduino open-source micro-controller platform. 

Taking the recently released emonTx as an example; we see the design being used in two ways: 

  • For the enthusiast/hobbyist/maker/student: to be able to easily build an open-source monitoring system. They will assemble it themselves and customise it for their needs and hopefully develop some cool applications. To help them get going we will provide good documentation and code examples. Think along the lines of Arduino, Adafruit and JeeLabs. We hope that user developments will feed back to OpenEnergyMonitor. We are considering setting up an OpenEnergyMonitor online shop to sell the PCBs and kits. We have created a feedback form to try and gauge interest from the community. 
  • For commercial use: The emonTx could be used in a professional large scale energy monitoring systems. Trystan Lea (founder of openenergymonitor) and I are in the process of setting up a business to offer energy monitoring services to organisations and businesses in our local area (see megni.co.uk) We are currently working on a community energy project which will also be a pilot test for our monitoring system see: http://ecobro.org/node/24. We are happy for and very much encourage other people to use our designs in a commercial setting as long as they attribute OpenEnergyMonitor and make any resulting designs available under the same open-source license; thus allowing others and us to benefit. 
The same reasoning also applies to all other content on this site. 

To read more about open-source at OpenEnergyMonitor please click here.

A prototype OpenEnergyMonitor  monitoring system (emonTx + NanodeRF)
being exhibited at a recent sustainability event