Posts Tagged ‘XBee’

Create the future – Design Contest 2011 – A building as a living body

This post contains the concept idea subscribed at the contest Create the future – Design Contest 2011 ( ) .

A building as a living body

An intelligent building is a building which is able to monitor and control its own functionalities, according to the building structure, indoor and outdoor environment. The functionalities and their characteristics are directly related to building scope (the activities accomplished by the occupants), but usually are the same. The most part of the necessary functionalities have been already determined, and they are mainly for ensuring the minimum energy consumption and the occupants comfort. Not to forget that the occupants’ productivity is dependent on their comfort. Since a building is related to its occupants, all the functionalities of the building could be determined from the occupants’ needs and abilities. This is the reason why it come the idea to view a building as a living body (e.g. human body). It is a new approach of considering an intelligent building.

The human body is full of sensors, most of them on the skin and inside different body’s organs, and actuators which receive and execute commands, and make possible the interaction between different parts of the body. So, a building should have: a lot of sensor and actuators integrated into its structure. Since the sensors are not cheap, to diminish the total cost of the monitoring and control system, the optimum number of sensors and their location has to be determined. Even the buildings structures are different they are organized in similar ways.

The next connections could be established between a human body and a building:

  • brain (the center of coordinating and monitoring all body activities) – BMS (Building Management System). A BMS monitors the existent conditions from the entire building and take actions for ensuring the required conditions.
  •  eyes – video surveillance system and lighting;
  • smell – monitoring air quality (temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ozone, particles) and react when the air quality is not proper for living (ventilation);
  •  taste – monitoring the energy quality and quantity  (e.g. current, voltage, active energy, active power, water, gas);
  • feel the inside/outside temperature – temperature sensors;
  •  feel the humidity – relative humidity sensors;
  •  feel vibrations or force – vibrations/force sensors;
  • ensure body temperature (e.g. perspiration) – ensure indoor temperature (heating, air conditioning);
  • protection against diseases – security systems.

All the psychic feelings represent input information, measurable by sensors. Analyzing the input information could be sent commands for ensuring the working plan of the entire building. As a human body have a working plan, same a building.

For implementing the idea, a solution based on using a wireless sensor network (WSN) is proposed (formed by coordinator, routers and end nodes). Only end nodes could have attached sensors and actuators. Such a network could be easily deployed in any building space, even if the building is already constructed. Each node’s base hardware could be easily implemented using a board as Arduino and a XBee radio communication module (at a cost of about 45$). And according to its destination the node could be completed with sensors and/or actuators.

Seeeduino Stalker v2.0 – first test

I just received my packages with the order from Singapore (Seeeduino company). I waited for it a lot. For a simple test I configure the devices as in the figure presented below.

The both XBee radio modules (series 2) have been configure with the application X-CTU and the firmware was updated to the last version. One radio device was configured as coordinator AT and one as router AT (using the same application). I succeded very easy to make a simple communication between them and after that install a simple Arduino application (which just blink a led) on the Seeeduino Stalker device.

My first impresion is that it easy to work with them and doesn’t require many knowledge about electronics (this is the advantage of having separated functionalities on modules). I will do more experiments with them these days and do more complex applications (I need more time to do this since I want also the information to be stored into a database for future processing).

I also have a good help, a book which I order some time ago: Building Wireless Sensor Networks with ZigBee, XBee, Arduino and Processing (by Robert Faludi, O’Reilly Media – could be found on Amazon at a good price).

Arduino, Seeeduino and XBee

Three weeks ago I have started to make a more deeply research on electronic platforms dedicated for Wireless Sensor Networks. I take into consideration 2 main aspects: cost (very important when the budget is low and the solution should be possible to be implemented even in not rich people houses) and characteristics (functionalities offered by the platform and how they could be extended more coresponding to our needs).

After many found solutions (iSense, Libelium Waspnode, MeshBean, Particle Computer, MicroStrain, Dust network, Econotag, Redbee, Tyndall, Mica2, etc.), I get to the conclusion that they are quite expensive :-s. If I had to continue the development from the scratch it will take me years. But I didn’t give up, I search more and more until … found it – something that really like… I found first Seeeduino Stalker v2.0, then Arduino and XBee. I knew XBees and before but I didn’t considered them suited for my project until now.

The Seeduino Stalker is a base platform for Wireless Sensor Network, and at a price of 39$, I considered much cheaper like other similar products. Also, it have enough functionalities for what we need. I ordered 2 pieces and hope to have them next week to start testing. Also, I ordered 2 XBee 2 Series with chip antenna for using with the Stalker. The full list of functionalities of the Stalker are presented in the second image bellow.

Maybe many people are used with Arduino but for me is something new. From Seeeduino, I found Arduino and bought one hardware board Duemilanove. I tested it a lot the last day and I was really happy what was able to implement. The programming of the microcontroller, using the Arduino IDE, is quite simple.

The XBee modules could test since I don’t have them but from reviews I uderstand that they could be very easily configured and used with Arduino board and Seeeduino Stalker.