Now if you know me, you know I haven’t been just sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I have been busy doing some home automation in our motorhome. But let me back up to the beginning, which started back in 2015. At my family reunion, one of my cousins was telling me about this new computer that was about the size of a credit card, has 4 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 HDMI port, a micro SD card slot (for the operating system and storage) and a audio jack output. It runs a version of the Linux operating system on it. It was called the Raspberry Pi and was invented over in England and was designed for the education of young students.
The version of Linux installed on the Raspberry Pi comes with Libre Office (open MS Office compatible software), several programming languages including Python, Sonic, Wolfram and a Raspberry Pi version of the game Minecraft. You can also install a version of Free Pascal in the Lazarus IDE and write Windows Delphi programs (which I did). You can install Apache software which is the software that almost all web sites on the Internet use and best of all it is free! You can download and install a version of MySQL server too! The community that supports these devices is immense and they have some great free software out there.
This little computer also gives you access to I/O pins, both digital and analog. With these pins you can have access to control relays, read the value of sensors, light up LEDs, read current transformers, voltages, distance sensors, etc.
I decided to get three of these little computers, one for me, one for each of my grandsons that were interested in techy stuff. With my Raspberry Pi, I decided to control my front electric windshield shade. I had ordered the Raspberry Pi 2 kits, which came with a case, power supply, HDMI cable, wireless network adapter and 3 heat sinks from Canakit.
I also ordered 3 of these wireless mini keyboard and touch pad/mouse
I connected the HDMI cable from the Pi to one of my extra HDMI ports on my LED TV. I installed the NOOBS version of the Linux system for my Raspberry Pi according to this guide. I then connected the Pi to my home network so it would have Internet access to be able to download these next software packages. I then downloaded the apache web server software from following the instructions on this web site. It also includes instructions to install Wordpress, which a lot of web site creators use (including me). But for this instance I just created a basic web page that would have 4 buttons on it. These buttons would execute a python script that would give instructions to the I/O pins on the Pi. These instructions would set DPDT relays to either raise or lower the front shades. I have both daytime shades and night shades. The shades would raise and lower by reversing the voltage on the shade, hence the four DPDT relays.
I could still use the Tiffin installed switches on the side dashboard to raise and lower the shades. This Raspberry Pi worked well for this application. I wanted to automate several things in my motorhome, but with the Raspberry Pi at $35 for just the bare board (without case and power supply, network adapter) it would costs quite a bit to do all the things I wanted it to do. So I started looking around for a cheaper solution. I found a great solution and I will continue that on the next post.
Until next time!