Considering moving from Arduino to Particle

Hello,
Complete Newbie regarding this platform here…

This is my first day of viewing these Forums.
I am trying to decide if the Particle platform is the way I should go for my new project.

Grandiose requirements:
Power Source is 24VAC
Need battery backed up RTC
SECURE Encrypted WiFi to traditional network reaching to the Internet.
HMI via encrypted WiFi to Android, iOS, Windows

Inputs:
4 inputs from opto isolators due to them being 110VAC (will mount in another area. Included here for completeness)
1 analog input
1 local on board temperature sensor
2-4 remote temperature sensors:

  • would LIKE them to be SECURE Encrypted WiFi
  • if Unable, would like to utilize off the shelf wireless weather temperature sensors supplied by La Crosse.
  • if Unable, would consider building wireless NOT SECURE, NOT Encrypted temp sensors
  • Last resort will settle for hard wired this would increase needs for analog input or require multiplexing (Yuck)

Outputs:
One Dry Contact Relay VERY CLOSE to ZERO amps at 24VAC
One Low Current Relay Less than 1 amp at 24VAC
One Digital to Analog output translated to 0 to +10VDC
3 PWM outputs to run required motors via amplifiers
Optional: 2 additional PWM outputs to run other motors via amplifiers

IF CUSTOM PCB for Secure Encrypted WiFi board temperature monitor:
Must be 9VDC battery operated and last about a year minimum as such, circuits must power up / down to conserve energy
Operating environment -20 to +130 degrees F

What do you think? Doable or a bit of a stretch?
If doable please point me in the right direction for information collection.

Thanks and have a Happy New Year!

I would say that the photon could do anything which a arduino could do , but I don’t think you could do the wireless temperature bit on the arduino or photon without the right hardware. You need to know the frequency of the wireless sender and know how to decode it , so you need some sort of receiver for it.
When ive seen wireless senders decoded it is via a usb dongle and a more powerfull computer.

When you say a 9 volt battery , are you thinking about a small dry cell battery ?

I would say a bit of a stretch in battery life and in the wireless sensor.

All of that sounds doable, from what I understand of the Particle platform. All communications to Particle Cloud are encrypted. The Photon should be able to meet all of you IO needs, there are Android and iOS template apps. You could use additional Photons for remote sensor or some sort of custom solution based on P1s maybe. The Photon has an RTC with VBAT pin for backup power.

Some resources:
Photon Datasheet
P1 Datasheet

Everything else you need is right here on the forums. Just do a bit of searching, ask questions if you don’t find what you’re looking for. Particle has a GREAT community! Elites and Particle Engineers are very helpful.

Correct me if I’m wrong about any of this, Elites.

EDIT: Oh and the Photon has 2 DACs (Is the other one enabled?)

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Sorry , but why must the remote sender be 9 volt powered and work for a year ?.
The sender in a weather station is designed to be low powered , it wakes up and goes to sleep very quickly because it just sends out the data in hope that the other end received it.
With wifi it needs to get a connection first , lots more power is needed .

Yes, it is enabled, but both DACs and analogWrite() are slightly impaired on the current firmware, which should be solved on next release.
DAC2 is situated on pin A3 and can be referenced via either name.

As for the wireless sensors bit, you might also look at the upcoming bluz which also uses the Particle cloud and works together with the Particle devices, or the RedBear Duo (Digistump Oak also nice but not what I meant) which do the local communication via BLE and can hop onto WiFi/net via a Particle device.

About encrypted communication and SECURE: Do you consider WPA2 and BLE “encryption” secure enought for your needs? Since TCP/UDP/HTTP communication that’s done via the Particle libraries is not encrypted any more than what the network protocol does for you or you do yourself.
There has been a third party library submitted that provides HTTPS tho’.

But other than that, I’d say you can go with the Particle devices just as good (if not easier) as with an Arduino - but this community is a perk that you’ll learn to value greatly once you get involved :wink:

2 Likes

Hello,
Thanks for your comments! Keep them coming!

Regarding the temp sensors. If wireless, no matter how it is done it must power up and down to conserve energy as no 110VAC source will be available. Your point about broadcasting “in the dark” (unconfirmed receipt) is understood. That may be acceptable. I picked the one year from a small nine volt battery (dry cell) from a La Crosse temp sensor in my home and its life expectancy. One transmission every 5 minutes should be sufficient.

I am assuming that like a cell phone or other WiFi devices that once the encrypted WiFi connection is established, upon powering back up the connection time should not be that long and may be optimized somehow.

Do you think we could get 6 months life out of WiFi powering up and down and Particle entering a “deep sleep state” (if there is one)?

Thanks!

Hello,

Thanks for the pointers! “The Photon has an RTC with VBAT pin for backup power.” I missed that!

Over time, how accurate is the RTC?

I will also have to dig deeper into the Particle Cloud stuff.

Please keep your thoughts coming!

The year is just a goal. I based it on my home La Crosse weather station. Please see my previous post to you above.

Thanks!

It might run astray a few seconds per day but once you’ve made contact to the Particle cloud a simple call to Particle.syncTime() will correct that.

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I’ve been testing a similar project , which takes the temperature and humidity etc every 5 minutes and sends it to my server which uses a battery shield and a single cell 6ah lipo , and just had to charge it .
the result of 5 minute wake up is about 15 days of battery life so moving to 15 minutes and going to try ways to cut down the power .
So yes you may be able to run 6 months on a battery , but not a little single dry cell .
https://thingspeak.com/channels/54612

Bluetooth is designed to be low energy compared to wifi .
If you have power at the base station end , you could have a linux computer and a receiver domgle ( like the raspberry pi ) decoding the La Crosse sensors and use the photon for the control .

Look at this . http://lucsmall.com/2012/04/30/weather-station-hacking-part-3/

It is surprisingly what you can find on google.

Hello,
Thanks for your comments! I appreciate them!

I will checkout your sensor references.

Regarding security, we have some work to do!
1, Here is an interesting link on issues with WAP2:
http://www.airtightnetworks.com/wpa2-hole196-vulnerability
2. Here is a VERY interested and perhaps more relevant link on issues with BLE:
http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/37149/hacking/tracking-bluetooth-low-energy-devices.html

So yes, IF I have sufficient access to recode or if the code already existing addresses these issues.

As you may have guessed we have been on the RECEIVING end of an exploit.

Keep your thought coming!

The Bluz idea is really good for your remote sensors. To that end, the RedBear Duo is Particle Cloud compatible. It’s basically a Photon with BLE (and on-board 2MB SPI Flash). I think the fact that those two products are launching speaks to the power of the Particle platform and it’s community. :wink:

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:+1: @tjp, I actually meant Red Bear Duo when I wrote Digistump Oak - my bad :blush:

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Thanks! Checking it out now!

@tjp, @ScruffR,

REGARDING these temperature sensors… I have never worked with remote sensors before and my lack of knowledge has become self evident. I am attempting to correct this.
As I dig into remote sensors, it seems what I could really use are off the shelf (cosmetically pretty finished enclosures etc) sensors based on the ZigBee 3.0 protocol. (ZigBee Pro High Security Mode) It seems the protocol supports encryption although seldom used. The products tend to have VERY long battery life which help with my desire for minimum maintenance.

Now to figure out how to talk to a network of ZigBee sensors…

You could indeed do that, ZigBee modules are really easy to interface with. There are tons of examples of Arduinos using ZigBee modules, it would be much the same for Photons.