Sunday, July 12, 2009

ZigBee Wireless & Python


I recently became interested in ZigBee Wireless Radios as part of Home Automation and tracking home energy usage. ZigBee is a wireless mesh networking standard intended to be simpler and less expensive than other WPANs, such as Bluetooth. They are very useful in in wireless control and monitoring applications due to the low power-usage which allows longer life with smaller batteries, and the mesh networking provides high reliability and larger range. My first exposure to their usage was a hack to the popular Kill-A-Watt power monitor which adds wireless reporting and is called the Tweet-a-Watt.

After implementing the hack and doing some measurements throughout the house I decided I wanteds to expand the monitoring of my energy usage and started looking for a reasonably priced kit I could have some fun with and learn about my energy usage. After one false start I came upon Digi, which manufactures a line of wireless radios and some cool evaluation kits. I researched three of the kits and decided on the iDigi™ Wi-9P Starter Kit ZB.

My main reason for going with Digi and this kit is the ability to use Python in controlling the reporting of the data. There is plenty of documentation in getting the network up and running, monitoring and modifying the presentation (reporting) and adding sensors to the mix. Python scripts are written and then uploaded to the network using the Embedded Gateway Configuration and Management web page.

My network is up and I have two sensors sending data, one sending temperature and light and the other sending in just temperature. As I make additons to my network, either by adding additional sensors or enhancing the reporting I will include steps and screenshots. Stay tuned as I am just getting started.

Note: I am not affliated with any of the companies mentioned in this blog and all products written about were purchased by me.

2 comments:

Irish_Energy said...

Hi Des,
Just curious, did you consider the Ember development kit? Just starting out myself and using Ember - finding it tough going as a ZigBee newbie (a ZewBie?) :)

You twitter/posts are interesting - keep up the good work!

desNotes said...

I looked at the Ember starter kits but found them too expensive for my budget. Digi's are running $150 each with a good selection of equipment in each to get a network up and running with detailed documentation. Previously I purchased a small evaluation kit from TI but was disappointed in both the sensors and the software.

Thanks for the twitter support. There is more on the way!