Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Home Hazard Weather Station: V1.0 Complete!

The prototype Home Hazard Weather Station is up and running!

Top view:

Back view:

Side View 1:

Front view:

Side View 2:

Running code on the computer:

Monday, August 20, 2012


Today I start testing:
Here's a picture of everything wired up to the computer.

Immediately, I notice that the fan is not working. Although the Arduino can produce up to 5V, it can only produce up to 41 mA of current. The fan requires at least .07 Amps to operate. I will have to figure something out, or I'm left with a twitchy fan.

The gas sensors seem to work fine, though as before, they run quite hot. The Geiger Counter also works as expected, though it seems to pick up more radiation than before. I'm not sure what's causing this - perhaps there's something in another sensor that sets it off.

Other sensors don't seem to work at all. I finally figured out that it was because I soldered the connections wrong. Although the solderable breadboards I got are supposed to be like the regular bread boards, these seem to have an extra horizontal line of connected holes, unlike the bread boards I was working with. This threw me off as I was soldering, and, needless to say, I made a few mistakes.

Unfortunately, it takes a long time to re-solder everything since there's so many wires in the way, but I will finish my tomorrow and continue testing tomorrow. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Soldering + More Assembly

Short update since it look a long time to solder everything... 

The top is done! I've soldered/attached all the sensors to it. 

Putting the top together with the base:

On Monday, I will finish up all the internal wiring and start testing.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Assembly I

Assembly begins! 

Removable Base:
Here's the removable base with the Arduino and Geiger Counter circuit board attached. I have removed the actual tube since it will be placed on top of the box. The two black wires that I've soldered are going to connect to the tube. 

The two green one connect to 5V and GND, and the blue wire is the data wire. 

Note that you can also see the Velcro on the bottom of the base.

The Box: 
The fan is in the back. The cutout is for the Arduino's ports. Note that there is also Velcro on the bottom of the box.

There are two little flanges that act as convenient handles for the box when you want to pick it up and move. The top will also be fastened on these flanges.

Oops! The fan cutout was slightly smaller than the actual fan. But it still looks nice don't you think?

The most complicated part of the box, featuring all of the sensors and their associated circuitry. I've only managed to finish the gas sensors and attach the Geiger Counter tube, the temperature/barometric pressure sensor, and the temperature/humidity sensor.

Everything together: 
It's a wireforest! In a box! No but seriously, once I figure out where everything is placed, i will trim the wires a bit shorter and use some fasteners to make things more organized. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fixing some parts

I decided to change one of the connectors to improve the design. The old connector only had one hole on the bottom, which meant that once you took off the top of the box, it could move or wobble. The new connector has two holes on the downwards facing side. This way, the connector won't move or wobble as much when you unscrew the top screw and take off the top of the box.

This meant that I would have to re-machine the walls as well, which I did:

(I messed up with one of the holes, which is why the wall piece on the right has three holes on top. But the extraneous hole will be covered by the connector anyways, so the aesthetics won't be compromised. =])

I also finished making the back wall. The rectangular cutout is for the ports on the Arduino. 

Finally, I cut out some of the L-shaped connectors:
 Tomorrow I will drill holes into them. This is the last part of my project that I have to machine, so after that, all that remains is the assembly (the fun part!). 

Friday, August 10, 2012

More Machining and Gas Sensor Setup

More machining - I finished the two walls. 

Gas Sensor Base: This was all done by the laser cutter. The second try went much better than the first because I worked with a bigger piece of Plexiglas that allowed the machine more leeway to zero imprecisely.

 After fininshing the base, I have to transfer the connections from my breadboard to my solderable breadboard that I machined a few days earlier. The solderable board has the same wiring as my breadboard, so it is easy to transfer connections.

After soldering everything together, I have to fix the gas sensors to the base I just machined. The gas sensors go into these little 7-pin vacuum tube sockets, which then sits snugly in the little holes on the base. I then solder the wires of the gas sensors onto the solderable breadboard and screw in some standoffs to create a small unit:

This will be later attached to the top of the box, on which we will install all of the other sensors. The four free wires are the data wires that will be connected to the Arduino.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Made these pieces the last two days: 

Drilled holes in the circuit board - this means I can start soldering things to it now. 

Polished the edges of some of the Plexiglas walls (it still has the protective cover on it). I made the holes too small at first so I went back and redid them. 

Before and after: 

Finished machining the base:

Lasercut the gas sensor base. As you can see, the cutting is off so I will have to redo this. It's actually still usable, but laser cutting is fast so it's not a huge problem to remake this.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quick update - Final Render

..And there it is.

The only things not rendered were the screws, as well as the sockets that the gas sensors are placed into. The holes cut for the screws and gas sensors are rendered.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Project Box Draft

It's been a while since I've posted, but that is because I've been busy working on the draft of the project box. Also because I love to render things. 

I originally started with a long design that looks something like this: 

The Arduino, green perf boards (roughly modeled), and the Geiger Counter breakout board would be laid on top of each other, with the fan on one end : 

However, this was a bit unappealing as I realized that I had no good way of easily accessing the Arduino when trying to make changes. The box is about 3"x3"x6", and working within a 3" wide box seemed rather hard. Also, finding a good way of attaching the Arduino to the wall was difficult. The Arduino is wider than the Geiger Counter board, but just barely, making it actually impossible to use standoffs when both boards are stacked lengthwise. Thus, I scrapped this design. 


The new design features a more square box with dimensions of approximately 5" x 5.5" x 3.5". (The design also looks more sound simply because I've managed to render the standoffs.):
If you look closely, you'll notice that inside the box, both boards are placed inside a base. The base will be Velcro-ed to the bottom of the box, which allows you to make changes to the circuitry without having to take apart the whole box. 

The box top is another assembly of many things. (Hopefully it should hold its weight.)

All the sensors are put on top of the box (as some sensors, especially the gas sensors, need to be in direct contact with the surroundings).Below the lid, there are two perf boards that house all the other electronics such as your capacitors and resistors. The gas sensors are also placed on an elevated platform so that air blown out from the fan will be able to create some kind of airflow around the sensors. This elevated platform is also removable:

I have rendered it so that there is space for 7 sensors (hopefully - the actual sensor sockets haven't arrived yet so I'm still unsure about those dimensions), but it seems that I am only able to work with 4 sensors now as the order of additional sensors haven't yet arrived. Put together, everything looks like this: 

You'll notice that the top sticks out a bit at the edges. I plan fix the lid in place by using L-shaped aluminum bars with screws and nuts attached on the underside of the lid and walls. This makes it easier to remove the lid when you need to make changes. Since I have not yet rendered any kind of fasteners, I drew a rough sketch of what I meant:

When you want to remove the lid, you only have to unscrew the screw (circled in red) that goes through the lid. And when you want to reattach the lid, the screw is put back into place along with a nut (not shown) on the outside of the box, making it much easier to assemble. 

Of course, before I make anything, I will first have to confirm the design with mentors (which I am doing today). 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

More Solidworks Parts

The dimensions of the board and pins are estimated; the length and width of the red part (representing the size of the accelerometer) is accurate. All boards are assumed to be somewhere around 1/16in thick. The connector design was based off of a part from the Arduino Mega file. There are also two resistors and some wires soldered onto the perf board but I'm ignoring them in this model.

Barometric Pressure Sensor:
The black connectors are again taken from the Arduino Mega files. Everything else is estimated (on the large side).

Temperature/Humidity Sensor:
Dimensions taken from the datasheet. Some measurements (like the angle of the two slanted cuts and the thickness of the back plate) are estimated. 

Really rough estimate of dimensions for an 1000 micro-Farad capacitor. 

I'm working on the assembly of the box with all the parts inside tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some Solidworks Files

Before making the enclosure, I also need to do a rough modeling of the components that go inside.

I was lucky enough to find an Arduino Mega SolidWorks file online. Although it's not an Mega ADK, the only difference between this and the ADK is that the ADK has a USB port in the middle between the two other ports. The other physical aspects are pretty much the same.

The rest of the components I rendered myself. For many of them, I had to estimate the specs, because I couldn't find the datasheets to go with them online.

The placement of the holes and the size is correct. I did something silly with the fan blades =]

CO Gas Sensor: The maximum height, widest diameter, and the placement and spacing of the pins are correct. I estimated the width of the pins, and the little depression at the top is just for visual effects.

Generic Gas Sensor (For Methane, LPG, Hydrogen): 
The height and widest diameter are correct. Again, I estimated the width of the pins.

Geiger Counter: 
Breakout Board:
This was the most difficult one to model, as I did not have access to any datasheets. I estimated all the dimensions, however I believe the important ones to be correct or at least incredibly close. I left out the capacitors, as they are shorter than the maximum height, and also left out the 4 supports at the corners of the board because I wasn't sure what the dimensions of those were. I will have to figure this out eventually because they are essential when mounting the board.

Geiger Tube:
Again, dimensions are estimated. I rendered the tube without the red cap on.

Optical Dust Sensor:
This one had a very detailed datasheet, so I'm lucky. The only thing I didn't render are the connectors. See original for comparison.

Fan Wall:
This is the wall where the fan will be mounted. Since we didn't buy finger guards for the fans, I will laser cut the circular pattern on Plexiglas and then mill the holes. The holes match the holes on the fan, so it should be easy to mount. 

I will finish up the rest of the renders tomorrow and figure out what kinds of screws/fasteners I will need to put everything together.