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Build Your Own Open Source Twittering Power Meter

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the diy-with-some-help dept.

Hardware Hacking 31

ptorrone writes "Open source hardware company 'Adafruit Industries' has released a 'Tweet-a-watt' kit. It's an open source power monitoring kit that mods an off-the-shelf power meter which can 'tweet' (publish wirelessly) the daily KWH consumed & Cumulative Kilowatt-hours to your Twitter account, Google App Engine, Facebook, IRC, whatever ... They recently won the 'GreenerGadget' design competition and have now released an open source hardware kit."

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31 comments

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Isn't that missing the point? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347841)

Installing a lot of hardware that uses power to monitor it, connect to the internet, and send the email? Wouldn't it be far less overall pollution to just read the meter by hand? I can see this as maybe useful for corporate offices, but then you wouldn't want a tweet, an email, web service call, or database write would make more sense.

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (2, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348131)

Unless you're living in the 80's, most households have a basic computer which is all it takes to email, tweet and connect to the internet. The only thing taking up additional power is the hardware to monitor it.

Another point is in order to read the power meter you generally need to wander outside in some hidden corner of your house, or down into a hidden location in the basement. It's really hard to keep that routine up. Adding the hardware may take just a touch more power, but at least that data is in a place that can be readily checked and the person can be much more aware of power usage.

Personally I think it's a rather brilliant idea.

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348425)

I don't know about you, but my computer is nowhere near my power meter. Not to mention the handy monthly usage monitoring that comes courtesy of the the power company. Its cool in a geek sense that making anything is cool, but its rather useless overall, and if you really cared enough about being green for more than the appearance, you'd find the time to check the actual meter rather than wasting your power (oh, and you'd be turning off your computer when not in use, which would save far more power than monitoring ever will). If you really want to do monitoring, what you want to do is monitor individual appliances so you can find the inefficient ones and replace them or unplug when not in use. Typically this is older fridges and the TV.

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348439)

I don't know about you, but I get a monthly statement from the power company telling me exatly how much power I used last month. This system works great. I get mailed a "statement" showing how much power I used. I don't need a twitter account, or even an Internet connection! Plus, I don't have creepy people with nothing better to do examining my electricity usage.

You should call your power company. They might be able to do the same for you!

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27353059)

Most people get quarterly statements don't they? And the statements don't actually tell you how much electricity you have used, just some cryptic number of "units" which seems to be redefined whenever the electricity company feels like it. And that's if you are lucky enough not to be on a prepayment meter.

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (1)

HalWasRight (857007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27365673)

Except that now that computer needs to be on to do the tweeting. Using a Kill-A-Watt I found my Linux box chews about 60 watts when idling, and over 120 watts when compiling. So unless you've got a laptop you are using quite a lot of power just to automatically tweet.

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27348339)

It would be much easier to just call your local Fusion Center. I'm sure they'll know.

Re:Isn't that missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27351555)

Ah, but that's where the twitter thing comes in; it monitors your power, then everything goes down.

tweet = publish wirelessly? (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27347885)

Since when?

tweet = buzzword(new); seems more like it.

Re:tweet = publish wirelessly? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348201)

I think i want to create a service that will be known as spaz, so that new hardware spazzes out when XXXX happens.

Re:tweet = publish wirelessly? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348759)

I think i want to create a service that will be known as spaz, so that new hardware spazzes out when XXXX happens.

Race you to the trademark office!

Re:tweet = publish wirelessly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27356691)

since stephen colbert twatted

Hey you guys, too? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348015)

Man, I guess the editors/contributors just caught up on the last few days of Hack-A-Day too ;-)

Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27348073)

i say again,..why???

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27348133)

I misread it as "Tweet-a-twat". Took me twice to read the story to realize it.

Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (1)

orthod0x (938547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348175)

Why would I want to monitor usage on a single plug? If I could have the same thing monitor my entire house and update twitter, email, widget, mobile phone app, etc. it would be very compelling. Having a view in the aggregate would encourage people to disconnect devices using power in stand-by mode, etc. And power usage tracking would become a competition between peers. Google to the rescue? http://www.cringely.com/2009/02/power-to-the-people/ [cringely.com]

Re:Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348489)

Why would I want to monitor usage on a single plug? ... Having a view in the aggregate would encourage people to disconnect devices using power in stand-by mode, etc

I almost completely disagree... with only aggregate information, you don't know what to turn off. You can't point and say "hey, the TV is using quite a lot of power in standby", because you don't know what proportion of the whole is due to it. Even if you compare the aggregates across a couple days, one with the TV plugged in and one with it not, how much of the difference is due to the TV, and how much is just varying fluctuation?

Re:Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348581)

Yea, there's a meter on the side of your house that does this for you. You don't really want something that bugs you every time a fan turns on do you?

Too much work? Your power company sends you a nice note each month telling you what your consumption was.

That's what I did anyway. I found that my "stand by" power usage is so small it got lost in the noise.

Re:Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (1)

orthod0x (938547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348723)

I think having access to my power consumption at any point in time would provide a new level of visibility... and an aggregate view would do more to enlighten people about their individual resource utilization. If you can monitor it you can control it... data on a monthly basis isn't enough in my opinion.

Re:Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (1)

Atomm (945911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27349135)

I actually agree with you. My wife would kill me if I tried to string up extension cables across every room just so I can tweet my power usage. Not to mention, I don't know if a single plug could handle all the stuff in my television/computer room. Besides, how many houses do you know that plugs every electrical device into a socket or even 110? What about the Fridge and the dryer?

Give me a way to measure my whole house, then graph it over time, then I can do something with this.

Re:Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27358505)

What's the difference between a single plug and a string of plugs off the same circuit?

Most household circuits are running off 20A breakers anyway. Your whole office is probably off the same circuit. Normal plugs can handle 15A an the plugs with a horizontal cut in them by the one plug can handled 20A.

But you can plug devices in and read how much power they are using. Keep plugging until you get close to 1500 Watts.

You really want to graph your whole house by outlet. Then you can "optimize" from the data.

Re:Aggregate power consumption would be nice... (2, Informative)

jamus (1439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27350725)

I'm using The Energy Detective (http://www.theenergydetective.com/index.html) and a custom version of this python script (http://svn.navi.cx/misc/trunk/python/ted.py) to measure, track, and graph whole house power consumption.

How amazingly inane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27348263)

Does this set a new low in the useless information that gets published on the internet? Is there any possible purpose to knowing how many kWh your friends used today? What next, a remote toilet sensor to publish if you've been getting enough fiber?

Toilet Sensor (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27352519)

Remote Toilet Sensor , YES
http://www.bwired.nl/

I've never won any compitions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27348457)

but I can't I've ever tried either.

Sounds like a company I work near (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348525)

There's a company in my office building (http://www.rpi.edu/dept/incubator/homepage/ethermetrics.html) that's doing something similar, except they have a device much smaller, that plugs into your power meter and gives the reading for the whole house.

It uses little to no power but requires an ethernet cable to get online. It's got a built in web server and you can log in to check your power usage. They don't have much of a website yet though they've got a working prototype and I'd definitely get one for my own house (it'd be nice to know my own power usage stats.)

Twittering Power Meter? (1)

Takichi (1053302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27348961)

Do people really twitter that much that they need a meter to keep tabs on the power consumption of their tweets? I think the whole conservation thing is going too far.

it's a twonge tister (1)

MegaThawt (672826) | more than 5 years ago | (#27351645)

I would not want to be a tweet-a-watt sales person if I were prone to spoonerisms.

Re:it's a twonge tister (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27356125)

Let us glaze our asses and toast the queer Dean!

Self-Powered Blackberry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27353031)

Not directly related, but it falls under the keywords {hardware power wireless hardhack twitter hardware power story}
Why don't "they" invent a blackberry that uses the button pressing of texting to generate it's own electricity?

Re: (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27361153)

Do people really twitter that much that they need a meter to keep tabs on the power consumption of their tweets? I think the whole conservation thing is going too far.
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