I know this has been a long time coming but expect a Beta release of the Open Reefs software this week!
Things have been moving more slowly than we anticipated but that is okay. We are making sure that it is done right. From here on out things should happen a little more quickly too. The Powerable is almost ready to go into production and we are already working on a second version of our Knowledgeable board. We have very high standards here at Open Reefs and our priorities are #1 - make the system easy to use #2 make the system reliable and #3 give the people the features they want. We are very pleased with our Senseable product line and many people have found not only very useful and well built but aesthetically pleasing as well. If you haven't already, check it out. We appreciate the community being so patient as we move forward. Stay tuned this week for the release and we will have a lot more information in the coming days and feedback is not only welcome but encouraged.
Wow... It's been a long road to get to this point. However, we now have two products available for you to choose from, with more to come! Our hardware will simplify the entire process of building your very own controller. We've taken out all the difficult parts of the design, and made it easy for you to get up and running. If you like to write code, or if you just want to get your hands on some hardware while it's still on sale, you should definitely check it out today. If you'd rather wait, don't worry! Our custom software will soon be available.
Two new boards are on their way. First, the new Knowledgeable. This board will extend the capabilities of the Arduino Mega by allowing easy access to all of the pins. There are RJ-45 connectors for everything including speical connections for the Senseable, a display and PWM LED. There is also a very easy add for wifi or bluetooth control. Next, we redesigned the Senseable to offer more space between the BNC's and added an RJ-45 jack to make it even easier to connect.
Okay, well, I couldn't wait until everything was done to at least show some progress. Here is how easy it is to calibrate the pH probe using the Open Reefs Controller and Sensable. I think that the pictures will speak for themselves.
Well the sensors arrived and boy do they look nice on the board. Putting this thing together gave me some ideas. We can do better! So, we have already redesigned the board to offer better functionality. One of the key redesigns will be that all the sensor sizes will be the same so you can add any number of dissolved oxygen sensors to this board. That was a great move by the team at Atlas to make them all the same size. The Open Reefs Sensable is going to be very slick when we put it in a case and hook up the touch LCD to the microcontroller. There are already some beta versions of the software complete. We want to make some final tweaks though and then we will post a short video showing how easy it is to calibrate your probes using the Atlas Scientific sensor equipment. Once more, I want to thank Atlas for helping us bring this to life allowing us to demonstrate what we at Open Reefs want to bring to the community. Also, it is a great opportunity for us to showcase the brilliant work from the team at Atlas Scientific. Keeping coming to check for the latest updates. We will also post code along with the video.
I am waiting for the sensor boards from Atlas-Scientific to arrive. So while I was waiting I decided to put together the components I had. Here it is, version one of the sensor board. It is going to be so awesome. I did notice a couple things that I will change in version 2, however, it is a huge leap forward from the ball of wires on my prototype! Remember, this allows you to mix and match up to 6 different sensors. Also, with version 2 you will be able to daisy chain them together to create an endless number of sensors. Monitor every tank in your house from just one Arduino! Let me know what you think and if you like it, +1 it!
I would like to give a special thank you to Atlas-Scientific for helping me out. They were kind enough to send me some free sensor boards so that I can show everyone how nicely integrated their products can be. I will soon give a full demonstration of the capability of their sensors when mixed with a touch screen LCD and an Arduino. Stay tuned!
Well, while I was waiting for those PCB's to come I decided to take a couple hours and finish putting together this LED fixture. I still have to put a switch in and wire it up to the Arduino so that I can control it with the built in PWM channels. What I noticed during this build is that people, in general, are way overbuilding the heatsinks for their lamps. These things at full power don't even produce a noticeable difference in heat when I put my finger on the back side of the aluminum housing I have them attached to. In fact, the way these are attached, I had to use my bigger iron and turn it up to 450 degrees just to get the solder to attach to the pad on the LED, (and even then it was still difficult.) That is how well this setup dissipates heat. For those wondering, the housing I used is an aluminum raceway designed to separate power and network cables. They are often used in labs where they are wall mounted above work benches. The pictures should be self explanatory, however, as always feel free to ask any questions.
The first PCB has been designed and is being sent off for a prototype run. Soon, the first batch of 25 will arrive! The purpose of this board is to make it very easy to add Atlas Scientific equipment to an Arduino. The board has spots for 6 different devices. One is a dedicated spot for the dissolved oxygen sensor. The other 5 spots are available for any combination of PH, ORP and Salinity sensors you desire. Mix and match them to create the best sensor array for your needs. We choose a standard BNC footprint design that offers the best durability and flexibility. It is best to choose a BNC connector that is completely shielded. However, this is not a requirement. Another great feature is the 8 port MUX/DEMUX chip. This ensures that you can add more boards by daisy chaining them together while still using only one serial port on the Arduino. (That is if you need more than the 6 sensor slots available on the single board.) Last, we went with a standard pin configuration so you can choose your own connector for wiring this board to the Arduino. One of the best choices, in my opinion, would be a clip style Molex connector. The next PCB on the list is a redesigned super sleek controllable power strip. Stay tuned for that and more!
So, I have begun a build on the LED fixture for the nano tank. The fixture will be 100% controlled by the open source reef controller we are developing here at Open Reefs. The features on the to-do list includes weather patterns, moon cycles, and the standard morning, noon, evening and night curves. I am using an aluminum enclosure that was originally meant to house data and power cables on the wall of a laboratory. It works perfect to house the drivers, the wiring and the transformer that will power the 10v PWM signal and the fans. In addition to controlling the LED's themselves, there will also be a temperature sensor inside the enclosure and based on that data the fan speed will be adjusted from 0 to 100%. Here are some preliminary pictures of the setup. Enjoy and stay tuned to watch this build and a lot more!
Well, I brought my 12 gallon nano to the lab. I took out most of the coral for now but there are a few softies left and a couple hermits. I will add some more livestock soon once I get the probes installed. Right now I have the controller operating the lighting. There is a 70w metal halide and 2 sets of LED's. This is the beginning of something great. Very soon I will have the full system installed and fully functional including the touch color LCD screen and the ability to control the tank from any internet enabled device including cell phones. The case is open so you can see the components. I recently upgraded to the Arduino Mega 2560 for its memory and extra pins. Not all controllers would need all the Mega has to offer but it is nice to know it is there if you want it. The next step after everything is installed is to build my LED lamp for this tank and program the controller so that I can provide a fully featured LED controller. Stay tuned!