Recent blog entries

An Azure connected weighs

WiFi modules have become way more accessible since a few years, and prices are going down fast. Starting from the work done on a student's project, I used the tiny RedBear Duo to build an Azure connected weighs. Well... from the top it is an "off the shelf" weighs, the interesting part comes when you turn it upside down: The main job was to connect the existing four sensors to a dedicated HX711 amplifier circuit  (bottom left, small PCB). Then an LCD display was added to interact with the user (bottom left, large PCB) The weighs has four capacitive buttons which were also connected (botton left, blue wires) The original power supply was replaced with a stronger 5V with a switch. (top left and center) The ReaBear board is the brain of the weigths, it has all I/O interfaces plus WiFi connection to report to Azure. In addition to indicating weight, the system provides a clock from the Azure connection. Measures are pushed to a dedicated Azure table, and provides a good following for indi ...

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PC Power Supply and Cooling Issues .. A gotcha!

Occasional PC video failures may be due to system overheating and may be rectified by added robust exhaust fans. An assumption that it was the power supply, which had previously resolved the matter, wasn’t the cause for my most recent errant PC condition. Note that if swapping over power supplies, only use the power cables supplied with the new supply. Otherwise you can fry hard drives! 
Also covered is how to simply get system uptime and a recommendation for PC Health (CPU temperatures, fans etc) is given. 

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Azure Watering system was not measuring (only) humidity...

After three weeks of humidity measurement, Azure data shows the following behavior:

I expected to see straight lines for sensors blue and green as they are in test tubes.
The measurement is not random though because:
1 - The fully immerged sensor (blue) gives higher values than the half immerged (green).
2 - Green and blue follow exactly the same pattern
3 - Red sensor which is in a pot, shows similarities in its evolution.

I copied local temperatures history from the same period from the Web and compared the two graphs on a day per day basis:

It is obvious that my "sensor in a test tube" is a pretty good thermometer!! 
In order to know the humidity of my pots, I need to correlate sensors information with local temperature and add some filtering mechanisms.
I added a DHT11 Temperature and Humidity sensor to the Azure Watering system (another option would be to get it from the cloud...)

Understand humidity with Azure Watering system

Now my Azure watering system has been running for a few weeks and I can use collected data to undestand how it behaves.
The data on Azure lead to the following graphs:

The big watering bars correspond to manual watering, from this graph I understand several key points:
1 - Humidity level should be maintained between 50 and 300
2 - Cooler temperatures in November have minimized evaporation ...or plants consumption
3 - The humidity variation during a day may be important compared to the interval given before
4 - All humidity sensors seem to follow an identical pattern, but my pots are not identical!!

To know more about humidity Sensors, i will modify the configuration, two sensors will be installed in test tubes, one completely immerged and the other one half immerged .

With this 100% stable configuration and Azure data recording, I expect a clarification on humidity measurement.

First results of Azure Watering system

My Azure watering system did work by itself during my vacation, and thanks to Azure recorded data I know a bit more about humidity and watering.
The data history shows an unexpected behavior:

Water has been pumped everyday in the pots without raising the level of humidity, the big bars on september 10th (300) correspond to manual watering. I also noticed that water was spilled under the pots, meaning that it was going through the soil - totally inefficient!! Also the correaltion of Azure data with real world showed that a humidity level of 200 was perfectly suitable for my trees.

Now I'm ready to modify the program and watering plan:
1 - I must be able to control the levels and timings remotely, I added a "parameter" table in Azure
2 - I must make four measures per day because humidity values shown are unstable

Azure Watering system ready to go...

My watering system monitored withAzure is now fully operational for three plants.

The connected computer is an Educake from ICOP, it measures three sensors and is able to pump water individually in each pot.

The system is connected to a timer socket progammed to wake up once a day. The information reported to Azure by the Educake contains humidity and watering time for each pot.

This configuration has been running for a week and Azure data allows me to calibrate the watering parameters. Unplanted sensor (dry) gives a 1024 value, and fully dipped sensor gives a 400 value.
As I'm checking humidity, I decide to reverse the scale : 600 = watered - 0 = dry, one week of recording shows the following graph:

Now Let's go to vacation!...

CleanupVS: Five coding tips as used

The Windows 10 UWP app CleanupVS is now in The Store. Its a free app for cleaning up Visual Studio workspaces by recursively deleting bin and obj folders from Visual Studio project folders. This article covers some of the code techniques used in he app.

Including, quick folder count, app metadata, using the Feedback Hub and populating a RichTextbox.

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Plant Watering System monitored with Azure

Before my summer vacations, I decided to build a watering system for my decorative trees. The soil moisture is measured with a cheap IoT sensor and the water supply uses 12V airpumps pushing air in water bottles (this makes a safe separation between electric and water circuits), the electronic schema is as follows:

The 86Duino Educake computer monitors the humidity level once a day and will pump water if the level is too low, it sends data to Azure therefore I'll be able to see how things are going on...

Win 10 IoT-Core - Raspberry Pi3 Bluetooth Driver Issue: Workaround

As I discussed in a previous blog article, the Raspberry PI3 Bluetooth driver for Windows 10-IoT-Core becomes errant and misses updates when the update rate is high. This is a known issue with the RPI. This problem does not exist other Windows 10 systems including the Dragonboard running IOT-Core. This article again discusses the problem and presents a workaround that does work. Includes how to disable/enable a driver using devcon.

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Is still an oxymoron?

Despite its detractors, Microsoft has of late has embraced OpenSource with a vengeance. Much code is now available on GitHub under the Microsoft moniker for developers to tweak, extend, debug and contribute. is the central location for it.

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Windows Embedded Compact 7

The Windows Embedded Compact 7 (Compact 7) getting started series is created to provide simple and easy to follow information to help academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to learn and engage in Compact 7 development.

***This is a series of 9 articles, with additional supplements, that cover the following subjects:

  • Development environment
  • OS design
  • Managed code application
  • Native code application
  • Silverlight for Windows Embedded application
  • SQL Compact database application
  • Debug and remote tools
  • More..

Embedded101 Articles & Application Notes

Apr10CEDriverWiz Version 2.00: Using the Wizard
Created by David Jones on 4/10/2013 8:56:42 AM

  Book Links: ...
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Apr10CEDriverWiz Version 2.00: An Example
Created by David Jones on 4/10/2013 7:28:32 AM

Book Links: ...
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Apr09Installing CEDriverWiz for Visual Studio
Created by David Jones on 4/9/2013 8:41:27 AM

Install Visual Studio 2012/2008/2005 (depending upon your version of CE/Compact) and all of t...
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Apr01CEDriverWiz V2.00: About this release
Created by David Jones on 4/1/2013 7:33:39 AM

This brings the wizard in line with our Wrox book: "Professional Windows Embedded Compact 7" . ...
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Apr01CEDriverWiz Version 2.00 User Manual
Created by David Jones on 4/1/2013 6:40:34 AM

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May15Configure Flash Storage to Launch Compact 7 OS Runtime with DiskPrep
Created by Sam Phung on 5/15/2012 8:41:50 PM

The DiskPrep powertoy is a useful utility to configure different type of flash storage to launch Wi...
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