Remote monitoring for reptiles

Recently I took a week long vacation back home. My sister was graduating high school and most of my family from my Mom’s side was flying in from out of country to attend. I live in another state and home is a couple thousand miles away so I only visit about once a year. Anyway, months prior to this, my girlfriend and I decided to buy a chameleon. I’ve never owned any reptile pets before and neither did she, so we thought it might be a great experience to try our hands with a chameleon (actually, it was my way of convincing her not to get a cat or dog…) We went to the nearest PetSmart and bought a tank, UVB and basking lights, some fake plastic foliages, and a 3 month old chameleon. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen a baby veiled chameleon before but these things are just so darn cute! The following weeks we found out just how much effort is required to take care of one of these reptiles…

The environment for chameleons to thrive under needs to be maintatined pretty adequately. The tank temperature should be between 70F – 90F. Water actually needs to be sprayed or dripped on to leaves. The UVB light needs to be turned off at night and back on in the morning to simulate sun light. And fresh crickets should be fed frequenctly. Long story short, I was going to be gone a week and I had no idea how I was going to do all this. Of course, the easy way out was to give it to a friend or co-worker to care for but the hacker in me had other ideas.

Enter Edison! A few month back I participated in Intel sponsored hackathon. They gave out free Edison hardware along with the Grove Starter Kit. The kit came with different components and sensors that include a few relays. It was a shame I didn’t win the hackathon with my basketball counter (props to the guy who won it with his baby car seat idea) but through that experience I came away with some nifty knowledge about working with Edison.

So the idea was pretty simple. Connect the UVB light to the relay and control the lights with a timer that turned it on in the morning and off at night. But what was I to do about watering the the poor thing? Well, luckily I had purchased one of these from costco before “Waterpik” and the travel unit was sitting around collecting dust. So I spliced the UVB light and waterpik electrical cords and connected them to the relay and volia! Quick and dirty automation system for “doodoo” (this is what my girlfriend named it, you can probably figure out the reason). I could now leave and go on faith that this system will work the ENTIRE time I was gone. Course I had very little faith. I wanted some feedback, some way to visiually see that my little “doodoo” was okay.

Enter code from another hackathon! The folks at held a hackathon a few month back as well (you can probably tell I go to a lot of hackathons…) and as you would have guessed I entered that one too. And you probably already know I didn’t win that one either… But I came away with more knowledge and experience :) My project was a IoT connected car dashcam where I connected a webcam to the edison and pipped that to a browser for preview, mainly based on this code “edi-cam”. It also had a accelerometer and captured a snapshot everytime it registered a jolt. So the idea is to capture moments of interest, when you had to swerve really hard to avoid the road raged maniac in a Prius or when you run over a Mama duck trying to cross the road with its liter of ugly ducklings. Anyway, the point here is I already had some code that could capture footage and send it to the cloud. All I had to do is put one and one together and BAM! #DIY #Bigbrother

I did have to write a bit more code on the server side with a simple RESTful service to receive data from Edison and also set up a database to store the meta data. Here is the result!

Live demo:



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