Monday, March 24, 2008

Vault OS : Update #8 ... Am I making sense yet?

I daisychained three DS18B20 temperature sensors on some molex connectors I got out of a Victor/Sirius computer I stripped for parts. These sensors are 12C compliant and calling each one individually from a serial port is so easy it boggles the mind. I just measured temperatures inside and outside my study to test them. Not only are they accurate, they are uncannily like intelligent peripherals with this I2C protocol. I got the instructions how to do it here.

If I put these in various places around the Hive like in storage, I can do things like turning on the air conditioning/dehumidifier if it gets too warm in there above a certain temperature. I can do the same with the living area or permaculture lab - if it got too cold you'd want to run some kind of ambient heater for the hydroponics garden. I once tried running my 12 volt hair dryer inside the main living quarters and you would not believe how quickly it heats up inside a sealed insulated environment like that. You could keep the hothouse at tropical temperatures and the living quarters dry and cool on demand.

There is an I2C chip for whatever function you could imagine. If you can think of it and you know what address to call, you can do it via serial port.

All it takes is $4.00 worth of parts for the I2C-to-serial converter for the PC (I built it on a breadboard in twenty minutes) and you can have as many sensors as you want in the Vault.

So just imagine you define one Vault OS as the "Environmental Monitor" station. Then it provides a TCP-IP service where people can stream all the current environmental/control data in one binary chunk and display it on the screen.

See how easy this is? Aren't you glad I spent a little more time thinking about it and researching the technology that was available? This is better than Ethernet comms. Much better. I will still build and deploy some devices in the Vault as Ethernet equipment (battery/power management comes to mind) but you can do almost everything a lot cheaper if you want to.


A Thousand Good Intentions said...

I have come to the conclusion, after much deep thought and consultation with wikipedia, that all your high-tech sounding words must ammount to something cool and exciting.

Could you explain to me what kinds of sensors and systems and how many you would be plugging into your Vault OS? will you have one know-it-all computer like the all-controlling ship's computer of a sci-fi movie, or is this more like one computer in your eco-lab, to monitor and handle the ventilation, lighting control, humidity level... and then another computer over in the vulcan fortress to handle the underground life-support systems... another computer to store a library of useful knowledge pertaining to future agriculture, medicine, etc... and another to handle your inventory?

I mean, in a paragraph, what would it be like to have Vault OS in your base? what will it do for you?

Texas Arcane said...

Using an x86 as your basic platform (any 32 bit PC) you will be able to connect unlimited I2C devices in a daisy chain, with the addition of the simple serial port interface described in that article I linked to. I built one myself and it was much easier to construct in less time than it took to read the article.

It is likely that every PC running Vault OS will have the opportunity to be defined as providing several services via TCP-IP. Some will provide an inventory database. Another will provide environmental sensors. One or more PCs could provide camera frames from CCD monitors or perimeter trespass detectors. As you mentioned, one might have a big fat hard drive or Compact Flash card where it offers up reference PDFs.

What it will offer is the capacity to manage a very complex operation with no more than one person if desired. Imagine if you only have to visit your hydroponics setup once a week and the other six days they are fed, watered, tended and monitored completely over Vault OS. There is an I2C sensor available for nearly every functional requirement of hydroponics - for example, measuring the alkalines or PH of the nutrient solution and being able to pump a little extra something into it when it is too strong or too weak. All from a remote workstation on the other side of the shelter.

You can have complete awareness of what is happening aboveground all around your shelter. If somebody leans against a tree, you could receive a seismic trigger which shows where that tree is on your topside map. You could track them with CCD cameras at night in what they think is pitch black darkness.

You could monitor all communications channels for transmissions via PC Radio cards, watching shortwave, VHF, UHF and marine bands for anybody transmitting and be notified or even record the transmission.

You could instantly know how much water you have, electrical power you have, compute how many years/months of food you have remaining at any microsecond, know when you need a replacement part, be reminded of maintenance jobs or important enhancements and assign them by skillset to one of your shelter inhabitants.

You can track radiation exposure, keep detailed medical records, access huge CD-ROMs of diagnostic tools for various conditions, know what medicines you need and how to get them or substitute them, etc.

Texas Arcane said...

I forgot to mention ... yes, if you wanted to, you could have no Ethernet ring and host everything on the same PC with the specifications as a standalone terminal for all functions.