Saturday, November 19, 2016

ActoSenso - My Automation Project - System Overview


Over the past few months I have created an easily expandable, well scaling and easy to optimize solution for controlling and otherwise bringing together a wide range of disparate devices.

With it one can gather data from all kinds of sensors (e.g. light, noise, pollution, position, etc) to keep a log, or aggregate data and display them in a centralized manner as well as make things happen in real life, for example lock/unlock things, or manage a workflow.

In the following few articles I would like to share it in the hope some may find it useful and inspirational.

More than a year ago (as many others interested in embedded electronics and gadgets) I started experimenting with some ESP8266 based modules, starting with the ESP-01 module. I soon moved on to more powerful modules such as the ESP-07, ESP-12, ESP-12E, WROOM-02 and lately I have been working with the ESP-12F modules. These modules have progressively more on-board flash memory (for programs), more GPIO available for the end user (me), and also have better antennas. Since these modules are ridiculously inexpensive (less than USD 3 a piece) compared to their abilities, I constantly keep an eye on any new versions that may be even better.

Unfortunately (and this is probably the only bad thing I can say about these modules), most modules' pin spacing are not 0.1mil (2.54mm), making them difficult to use them on breadboards, so they need some sort of an adapter. Some of these modules are pin compatible with each other (or very close to that) so I created a couple of development boards to speed up prototyping.

Development board for ESP8266 development

Solder side of ESP8266 development board

Using these development boards (or breakout boards) I have created some basic projects, each focusing on a certain aspect of the ESP chip. Then it occurred to me: Why not combine all of these and create something more flexible, more useful?

This is how ActoSenso Platform was born.