Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Counting Pulses with Maxim DS1682

I am often asked about interfacing the Energy Monitoring system with traditional spinning disk meters or blinking LED/Pulse type meters. For this application there used to be a very nice 1-wire pulse counter IC from Dallas/Maxim - DS2423. However it is end-of-life and no longer available. The next best option is the DS1682/83 series of RC oscillator based elapsed time recorders. The elapsed time function is not critical for pulse counting, however it is a nice feature. The lack of crystal makes is slightly inaccurate, but pretty robust and great for outdoor and industrial applications. It also has an EEPROM to store counted pulses, so the counts are retained across power cycles and the main MCU can sleep between long interval reads.

To test out this chips I built a Grove breakout which I am planning to use with a tipping bucket rain gauge. I have tested it on the ESP8266 with some basic Arduino I2C code and theres seems to be already existing Python code I can extend to use with my Udoo Neo Weather station.

Pulse counting can be easily done using a GPIO and an interrupt, however it requires the MCU to be constantly on. The DS1682 has a 17bit event counter giving it 131,072 total event counting ability before a reset is required.

Monday, August 29, 2016

AWS Summit Sydney 2016

Any web application that targets a mass market and wants scalability ends up in the cloud, rather than in an individual data centre. Of all the cloud providers the biggest currently is Amazon. After running the metromap application with AWS for a year mostly on a self-taught basis I realized that it was time to rub shoulders with some experts and possibly bring in some help.
Amazon was hosting a sort of marketing conference in Sydney and unlike the academic conferences I am used to attending this one was free. So I signed up for it with some work backing.
On arrival I walked into a massive Kogan keynote speech, it had all the pomp and fanfare of a boxing match or WWF rumble. Felt very American.

There were lots of AWS customer stories including one by Origin Energy about customer analysis. They have over 100million customer interactions. Traditional meters are read only 4 times a year, while Smart Meters produce data at a 30min interval. With this data Origin can offer a fixed bill plan using predictive analytics. The creation of this service started in stealth mode hotel wifi and personal CC, interesting collision of corporate culture with internet realities.

Moving data to and from the cloud was big sticking point as well and the AWS Snowball (80TB) was announced. I have recently ordered one, still waiting for it to turn up. Will write another article on this Data Exchange unit once I have had a real life play with it. Working at an aerial photography company I am used to huge amounts of data coming in from aircraft on similar hard drive units, but none of them feature 10GB ethernet and in transit encryption like the Snowball does.

There was a big focus on IoT capabilities in AWS as well including an Earth, Air, Fire and Water demo with Alexa playing stage manager.

I had a small blast from my CSIRO past. Peter Blaine had a talk about IMOS data sharing. 50Million NetCDF's are up in the cloud. The big challenge being the heterogeneity of the data. Apparently they have moved to the warehouse next to my old office and things are progressing okay. Even though CSIRO is rapidly shedding science staff, the engineering half is still alive and well.
On the display floor I managed to knock over a remote presence bot and chat to a lot of people in various booths, including Sumo Logic and Puppet which were particularly relevant to my application of image serving and service monitoring.
After a couple of days of hard conferencing and networking I managed to get in some R&R and learn the weird game of shuffleboard and enjoy some cocktails at the Little Darlin'. It was an exciting couple of days in Sydney and since then I have been putting my knowledge to good use. I will write up another post from my mass of notes collected during the summit.