Tag Archives: esp8266

Automated unit testing in the metal

Unit testing your code is peace of mind. It has two main direct benefits that impact on your confidence about the code you are writing:

  • Testing expected behaviors
  • Avoiding regressions (i.e. breaking something that was working fine before)

Unit testing embedded systems is a bit more involved since there is the additional constraint of the hardware itself, sometimes more than one device or even different platforms. Quitting (or not even thinking about it) is the easy answer to the problem. All of us have debugged expected behaviors with inline prints. But automating some of these tasks have a huge benefit on the code quality and development speed.
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Useful notifications from your home appliances using Node-RED

Some time ago I worked on a home project to get a notification when my washing machine had done its job based on monitoring its power consumption. There was a good reason for that, the machine was outside the house and I had already forgotten about the laundry several times. And when that happens your only option is to wash it again, because it really smells musty…

Monitoring your appliances

Use ESPurna 🙂

OK, there are different ways to get the info about power consumption. But since we want to be able to process the data ourselves most commercial products won’t be suitable unless we modify it.

Alternatively, those that use radio communication to send data from the meter to the base station might be suitable for a man-in-the-middle hack. For instance, if you own an Efergy power meter you must know you can sniff the data it sends using a simple RTL-SDR dongle.

But for most cases, your best chance is to get your hands on a commercial product with an ESP8266 chip in it and change the firmware to suit your needs. You can write your own or use an existing firmware like ESPurna, that already supports a bunch of power metering smart switches.

What info do you need?

The idea is to report (via MQTT) power data from each individual appliance very minute. You can then use Node-RED along with InfluxDB and Grafana (or Graphite) to receive, persist and graph your data like in the image below.


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EEPROM Rotation for ESP8266 and ESP32

The Arduino Core for ESP8266 and ESP32 uses one SPI flash memory sector to emulate an EEPROM. When you initialize the EEPROM object (calling begin) it reads the contents of the sector into a memory buffer. Reading a writing is done over that in-memory buffer. Whenever you call commit it write the contents back to the flash sector.

Due to the nature of this flash memory (NOR) a full sector erase must be done prior to write any new data. If a power failure (intended or not) happens during this process the sector data is lost.

Also, writing data to a NOR memory can be done byte by byte but only to change a 1 to a 0. The only way to turn 0s to 1s is to perform a sector erase which turns all memory positions in that sector to 1. But sector erasing must be done in full sectors, thus wearing out the flash memory faster.

How can we overcome these problems?

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Sonoff S31, a world apart

It’s not that other Sonoff products are not “serious” business, but there are a number of design changes in the Sonoff S31 that make this new product a world apart. For the functional point of view it looks like a S20 with POW-powers, but they have redesigned the product completely. The result is very very interesting.

  • Revamped case, more compact and sturdy
  • Redesigned PCB, actually 2 different PCBs for main and control
  • Different power monitor chip: the CSE7766 (same as in the new POW R2) replaces the HLW8012

The only drawback: it’s only compatible with plug types A & B, tat is central and north-america and few other countries. I’d love to see a S31-EU schuko version!

You can buy the S31 from Itead (see link above) or via the usual marketplaces. Actually the S31 is slightly cheaper [Ebay] on some of them.

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Yet another WiFi light bulb

Eight months ago I reviewed and hacked the AiLight WiFi light bulb by AiThinker. By the time there was a number of people doing the same because of a key reason: it sports an ESP8266 microcontroller and it is based on the OpenLight by Noduino, that had already provided open source code for the LED driver inside, the MY9291.

Let time pass and I was doing the same with the Sonoff B1 light bulb by Itead Studio. That was two months ago and the conclusion was that the AiLight is brighter the the B1 but the lacks warm white channel the Sonoff bulb has.

And now here I have yet another WiFi light bulb, the Arilux E27 Smart Bulb. It looks pretty much like the other two, same shape, same microcontroller, same driver, but different base again and most important: different LEDs. So how does this one compare to the other ones?

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