May 5th, 2009

hair

arduino board and electric meter project

I just got an Arduino board to play with. It's cool! Following the getting started guide, I installed the USB driver, loaded the Arduino IDE, loaded the embedded equivalent of "hello world" (which blinks an LED), plugged in the board, hit the Upload button and it worked on the first try. Full marks to the Arduino community for top notch execution.

I have a plan for this device, too. Recently the electric company replaced our electric meter (which in our house is indoors) with a new digital one that they can read remotely. In order to better manage our energy use, I'd like to be able to measure the amount of electricity we are using in real time. Lacking any ability to hack into the electric meter, I had an idea: There is a red LED on the front that blinks once per some amount of electricity used (I don't know what that amount is yet). If I mount a photocell in front of that LED, and count the pulses with the Arduino board, then I can set up a data logger that logs the rate of electricity use. From there, graphs etc. I'm a firm believer that the first step toward managing something is to measure it.

Now, to figure out what other bits and pieces I need for this...