I've been programming micro controllers like Arduino and Raspberry Pi for about a decade now. While I'm still very much in the hobbiest category I'm still able to do some pretty cool stuff.
I increasingly use a lot of 12V DC LED lighting and I use Arduino's to control them in various ways; motion sensors, remote control. lights sensors and switches. This allows me to push the efficiency of the LEDs even further. And since everything runs on DC I can skip the inverter on my solar PV system which further pushes the efficiency of the whole system.
I also do a lot of temperature reading, inside at various rooms and of course outside. I'm just finishing up a Rocket Mass Heater build where I installed a high temperature thermocouple to measure the heat at the top of the heat riser. So far my hottest temp has been 1,300F! And I'll embed 3 temp sensors in the top of my mass. I'm excited to see how long the mass will hold heat after a fire.
Anyway I'm curious if other homesteaders and permies are using microcontrollers and what your doing with them.
I am not there yet but I am headed there. I have aurdino 256 mega and intend it eventually for a full house controller but the starter project is automating a thermal air solar collector panel. Monitor 4 air temperatures and control 2 to 5 vent doors based on that information.
My current tech project involves the ATTiny85 chip, and a controller that is by default the ESP8266, but can be an Arduino or a RPi. The project is a DIY Powerwall.
I've used arduino's with timers for watering systems in the past, but since we have been back in Illinois I have not been able to do much. If I get the time, I hope to automate the chicken coop a little. A small solar setup to provide power and monitor food, water, temperature, ventilation, and the door. Not that any of those things can't be done manually, like I do now, but it would be nice for the future if we want to take a trip somewhere. Not NEEDING someone to check in once or twice a day for short trips would be nice.
Not all those who wander are lost - J. R. R. Tolkien
We were planning to rig up a greenhouse with one, but communication with the remote probes was an issue, due to distance. Then we realized that there are non-electronic technologies for a lot of stuff: our greenhouse window opens when it gots too hot using a hydrolic hinge, and one of Lawton's videos shows automated water system that is mechanical based on the weight of water on a switch. I still think arduinos are useful, but a lot of times simpler technology will work better.
1. Home energy monitor - Simple Arduino Uno with current sensors installed in my main breaker panel with the data being logged to an SD card for later retrieval and analysis. I used this to explore and analyse my winter heating costs. (Surprise finding was that using heated water buckets in the horse barn was drawing more power than my baseboard electric heat in the house (for rooms not heated by a heat pump).
2. Orchard wireless environmental sensors - I'm using a Raspberry Pi as a TTN (The Things Network) LoRawan gateway, and Arduino pro mini's as nodes that will collect soil moisture and soil temperature as well as air stats. I'm using different mulches so am curious to see how quickly temperature and moisture levels change at various depths for the different amendments. I'm using a Cayenne dashboard for monitoring. This project is still in prototype mode but pretty exciting.
3. Greenhouse monitoring (not built yet). Tracking air temp/moisture, grow bed temps, light intensity, relays to activate the climate battery fan, relays to draw/retract insulated curtains. Also temp monitoring at various points within to-be batch box rocket mass heater and passive thermal storage.
I don't consider this tech inline with permaculture except that they increase my ability to observe and learn. Hopefully the data helps others make better decisions too.
My pie came with a little toothpic holding up this tiny ad:
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