Folkestonomy


How cool is that


Reane and Melita have joined the FOLKESTONOMY team and will be on the road and on the float throughout the summer.
Watch the STOP sign!


Start & Stop

Well, I found it exciting

A small milestone, seeing the start/stop buttons work in context as I do final tests to the prototype


A third and final prototype..

This is the final circuit in all it's glory, on a breadboard. With the box being started behind it.
This is the final circuit in all it's glory, on a breadboard. With the box being started behind it.

I've made the final prototype for the data collector, complete with stat-stop switches and a status indicator LED. It's much much simpler than I expected when I started this project, and that can only be a good thing in my book. Now to get soldering and get it all into the box, which I picked up from Public Works today.

Whilst I was at Public Works earlier Andreas showed me some of the signs, and I also picked up the final box for the data collector, and started fitting it out.


Lots of Bits

Lots of Parts - or toys as my partner calls them
Lots of Parts - or toys as my partner calls them

Wow, loads of stuff just arrived for me for building the controllers: Here's what came from where:

A couple more Arduino Boards and some spare ATMega processor chips from Tinker.it

I've got a programmer for the ATMega processors from ebay seller Sure Electronics in china: £15+shipping vs £100 in the UK. I hope it works...

The Maxim One-Wire controller ships have been soldered onto mounting boards [incredibly quickly] by Tirna Electronics

There is some more RAM for the MacBook from Offtek

A nice box mounting USB connector from Maplin

And the start stop switches which Andreas sourced from I don't know where.


Application Design


I've come up with a final application design I'm happy with and confident will work. Now to start implementing it all.

There will be numerous components in the system, and it's a pretty loose description, but it will do the job.

Data Collector

This will be based in the collector box, running a piece of software on an Arduino base ATMEGA Micro Controller. The program will check for presses of the start button, signalling a listener application on the connected MacBook that the mapping has started. It will then wait for the stop button to be pressed, and collect the data from across the 8 wire networks it can be attached to, and transmit that information to the main computer along with a stop signal.

Listener Application

This will be a background application on the MacBook, which will listen for signals for the data controller. Upon a 'start' it will create a new mapping, and grab co-ordinates for the floats location from the GPS device connected to the macbook, as well as logging the start time and creating a unique ID for the map. When the stop signal is recieved it will log the information gather from the various circuits into a database.

As we won't have a 'live' internet connection on the float this application will also listen for an active internet connection and upon receipt start synchronising data with he primary server were the website lives, uploading new maps and downloading any data that's changed on the website.

Display Application

This will be an application that will run on the laptop on the float, and also on the website for the project. It will work slightly differently for each context, but visually will be mostly identical. It will display the latest map available, as well as allowing exploration of the maps and augmentation of the data collected.

Web Synchronisation

This will be a backend application that will be triggered by the listener application, and handle the details of synchronising data with the main server.


First Proof of Concept


I've managed build a first, quite lo-tech, prototype to make sure that my idea of using 1-wire networks is sturdy enough. My initial look at ibuttons proved them to be too fiddly for the kind of use we need, and so my thoughts turned to something more robust: 1/4" Jack(TRS) Plugs, as used in telephone exchanges in the days of old.

I connected up a number of sockets in a small circuit that had one Silicon Serial Number chip attached to it, and then hooked that back to the 1-wire reader using a guitar lead, and could read one or more chips on the network without a problem. I built a second box and could daisy chain them together, using 10 meter cables. This makes me confident that this will work in a real environment.

The low cost of TRS plugs and the Silicon Serial Number chips, and the simplicity of the network, really appeals to me in making this practical. Earlier networks I'd imagined with lots of intelligent collectors for each network, feeding back to a computer; which would have been expensive and more prone to errors, this one is much more simple.

The only real issue is one of context. I'm unable to detect which chip is plugged into which box when they are chained together, and so this is pushing me towards having multiple 1-wire readers: Though I'm not sure how well the host computer will handle that.

It's looking much more likely that we'll use a micro controller somewhere as well, so it may be possible to read the multiple networks from that. The use of a micro controller comes from the desire to have our computer hidden away, so the focus is on the mapping, not a computer screen.

We've realised we want to capture other input, such as photographs or video, and an easy way of doing this. I've suggested a 'start/stop' mechanism, where a button get's pressed to start the mapping, then pressed again to stop the mapping. This will allow us to grab a time stamp, then when we copy images from a camera we'll be able to tell which mapping they belong to by the time they were taken, to make reconciling maps to collected data easier.

the start stop will also allow us to work out how long it takes to do a mapping, and capture other data such a GPS, or weather, or anything we decide on.


a public works project. site design and build by dorian