Monitor Appliances with Raspberry Pi

We use many appliances to help us around the house and office. However, most of them are not smart enough to inform us when they have finished the chore allotted to them. That means we have to leave whatever we are doing at intervals to check and monitor the state of the appliances. This reduces our efficiency for doing important work requiring long stretches of concentration.

All this can be set right if you have the single board computer, the Raspberry Pi (RBPi) readily available. You can program it to notify on your phone or desktop when appliances begin or end their cycles. That leaves you free to decide whether you leave your work or not to attend to the appliance.

The project is suitable for any model of the RBPi including the RBPi Zero. Actually, it makes use of a sensitive vibration sensor. Simply stick this sensor monitor onto any appliance. Any equipment, however old, generates mechanical vibrations when working. The sensor detects the minor vibrations and if they continue for a specified time, the sensor assumes the appliance is operating.

You can use this project to get notifications from any appliance such as furnaces, fans, garage door openers, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers, in fact, anything that vibrates when operating. Your RBPi sends tweets or PushBullet notifications when a device stops or starts vibrating.

This project needs the following parts: any model of the RBPi, a micro SD card, a USB Wi-Fi dongle, an 801s vibration sensor module, and a micro USB power source capable of supplying 1 amp. The power source can be any model of phone or tablet charger. If using an RBPi Zero, you will also need a micro USB adapter for plugging in the Wi-Fi dongle.

For this project, you can use the Raspbian Jessie Lite operating system. Download the image and transfer it onto the micro SD card. The card should have two partitions—a boot partition formatted to FAT32, and an OS partition formatted to the EXT3 file system. If you use Windows or Mac for transferring the image, you will need drivers to create the EXT3 partition.

Create and add a new ssh file in the boot partition. Include the host name and authentication data for the Wi-Fi. This will enable the ssh daemon, and you will be able to log into your RBPi from your desktop or laptop. It will also allow the OS to connect to your home network automatically when booting.

Insert the micro SD card into the RBPi socket, add the Wi-Fi dongle, and plug in the 801s vibration sensor to the RBPi GPIO pins. Make sure the pins of the sensor, the +5 V, GND, and the data pin, are connected to the proper pins on the GPIO. The data line of the sensor should go to GP15. Plug in the power source, turn the power on and you should be able to connect to your RBPi via ssh.

You will need some additional files and libraries to make this project work. Get them from here. To enable the proper notification time, set the local time zone on the RBPi.