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Author: Kevin R Keegan

Generate High Quality Cloud Map for XPlanet

Generate High Quality Cloud Map for XPlanet

I have really enjoyed my world map with realtime clouds. I use it as the background on my phone (updated hourly) and as the desktop on many of my computers as well.

However, my initial instructions relied on a rather low resolution version of the cloud maps. Luckily I found the CreateCloudMap python library from @jmozmoz that uses images from the Dundee Receiving Station. The whole process is quite interesting. The ingested images are full disk images of the cloud cover taken from 6 different geostationary weather satellites. Those images are then projected onto a sphere, stiched together, and then projected back out as a Mercator projection.

The resulting cloud map can be updated every three hours (limited by the image time periods offered by Dundee). The cloud map is perfect and is much higher resolution than the prior version.

You do have to sign up for an account with Dundee, but it is free.

Update: This is a good description of how the library works.

World Sunlight Map with Real Cloud Data and Accurate Seasons

World Sunlight Map with Real Cloud Data and Accurate Seasons

earth For a long time I have used an image similar to this one as the background on my phone.  The image accurately represents the current cloud formations and sunlight regions on the planet.  I came up with the idea from the following page: http://www.die.net/earth/.  There is a good explanation on how to do this at http://www.die.net/earth/how.html, so I won’t repeat it here.

If you want to purchase an expensive wall hanging version of this map amazon will sell you one for $3000+, Boardroom Sunlight Map.  Although it seems to me that you could purchase a Flat Screen TV and a Raspberry Pi and save yourself $3000, but hey, that is just me.

For a few years, I have used a Tasker profile on my Android phone to download a copy of this image once an hour.  Tasker then updated the background on my phone.  I find the image to be both beautiful and at least marginally functional.  Plus I enjoy the nerdiness of it.

A few months back I switched to a Nexus 4 and discovered that the image available from die.net was lower resolution that my phone.  This gave my the impetus to “roll my own” customized version.

I doing so I discovered the beautiful series of Blue Marble images that NASA has made available.  The The Blue Marble: Land Surface, Ocean Color and Sea Ice image was by far my favorite, but I noticed that NASA has since added monthly images that more accurately represent the snow pack and foliage for each month of the year.  Unfortunately, these images seem darker, and less vibrant than my favorite image.  Specifically, the greens and browns of the land masses looked very dull.  Additionally, the ocean was much more black and devoid of any character.

Luckily NASA aligns the images very precisely.  I first downloaded each monthly image and tweaked it in darktable.  I increased the exposure value to make them brighter, and increased the color saturation of the greens, browns and oranges.  The resulting images were much more vibrant.  Then to fix the ocean, I simply placed my favorite image into Gimp and overlayed the new images with a mask for the ocean over them.  The results were spectacular.

Then I simply added 12 different config files for xplanet and made 12 different cron jobs depending on the month.  Now I have my own custom World Sunlight Map with more accurate seasonal representation of the land mass.

A Temperature Controlled Whole House Fan with MisterHouse

A Temperature Controlled Whole House Fan with MisterHouse

MisterHouse Web Interface for a Temperature Controlled Whole House FanThe main feature of MisterHouse that sets it apart from other home automation systems is the ability to customize practically every aspect of the system.  The following example is a perfect demonstration of this.

I recently purchased a whole house fan, basically a giant fan that sucks hot air out from the highest point in my house. They are great if you live in a climate with cool nights.

The controls for my fan were very basic, an on/off switch and a two-speed setting.

With Misterhouse, I created an “auto” mode which will only turn on the fan if both the indoor temperature is above a defined threshold and the outdoor temperature is 5 degrees below the indoor temperature.

This is how I did it.

Starting Materials
– A Whole House Fan
– 2 IOLincs, (1 for on/off, 1 for fan speed)
– A MisterHouse enabled indoor temperature sensor (I used my Insteon Thermostat)
– A MisterHouse enabled outdoor temperature sensor (I used data from a neighbor’s weather station through weatherunderground)

I created the following items in my mht file:

GENERIC, house_fan, HVAC|WHF_Group
GENERIC, house_fan_temp, HVAC|WHF_Group
GENERIC, house_fan_setpoint, HVAC|WHF_Group
GENERIC, house_fan_ambient, HVAC|WHF_Group
INSTEON_IOLINC, DE.AD.BE:01, whf_main, HVAC
INSTEON_IOLINC, DE.AD.BE:01, whf_speed, HVAC

I also had the following items already setup:

$upstairs_thermo_temp #the temperature upstairs
$w_temp #the outside temperature

First, I set the available states for my generic objects:

$house_fan->set_states('on', 'off', 'auto');
$house_fan_speed->set_states('high', 'low');
$house_fan_temp->set_states('cooler', 'warmer');

Then I tied my generic items to my Insteon Devices:

$house_fan->tie_event('$whf_main->set("on")', "on");
$house_fan->tie_event('$whf_main->set("off")', "off");
$house_fan_speed->tie_event('$whf_speed->set("on")', "high");
$house_fan_speed->tie_event('$whf_speed->set("off")', "low");

Then I tied my Generic temp item to my Generic setpoint item, and inserted some custom code:

$house_fan_temp->tie_event('house_fan_temp_change($state)');
sub house_fan_temp_change {
	my ($state) = @_;
	if ($state eq "warmer"){
		$house_fan_setpoint->set(int($house_fan_setpoint->state) + 1);
	} elsif ($state eq "cooler") {
		$house_fan_setpoint->set(int($house_fan_setpoint->state) - 1);
	}
}

By doing this, I can have a nice cooler and warmer button in the web panel.

Finally, every minute I check to see if the device is in “auto” mode and whether or not it should turn on:

if ($New_Minute){ 
	if($house_fan->state eq 'auto') {
		if (int($upstairs_thermo_temp->state) > int($house_fan_setpoint->state) &&
		(int($upstairs_thermo_temp->state) - 5) > int($w_temp->state)) {
			if ($whf_main->state eq 'off') {
				::print_log("[a1housefan.pl] Auto: Turning on fan");
				$whf_main->set("on");
			}
		} else {
			if ($whf_main->state eq 'on'){
				::print_log("[a1housefan.pl] Auto: Turning off fan");
				$whf_main->set("off");
			}
		}
	}
}

The result, is a temperature controlled whole house fan.  The image above is a screen shot from my web interface.

Insteon RemoteLinc 2 Lacks the Heartbeat Feature?

Insteon RemoteLinc 2 Lacks the Heartbeat Feature?

A heartbeat is a simple broadcast packet sent at a predetermined interval.  The purpose of the packet is to announce to everyone that the device “is still alive.”

The Insteon RemoteLinc 2 is a battery powered insteon remote, that remains in a sleep state when it is not sending messages.  In this state the remote does not listen or respond to any packets sent to it.

As a battery operated device, the remotelinc will eventually need to be recharged, and it would be nice to know when a recharge is needed rather than finding out when the device doesn’t work.  The remotelinc has a command to query the battery level, but this query won’t work if the device is asleep.

This is where a heartbeat message would be nice.  It would automatically wake up the device at a periodic interval, allowing a battery level request to be sent to the device.

Best I can tell, the Remotelinc heartbeat function has been disabled or not included.  The following settings are supposed to control the hearbeat function:

Awake Interval Sets the amount of time the Remotelinc remains awake with no activity. This is editable
Sleep Interval Sets the amount of time the Remotelinc remains asleep, before waking up to send a heartbeat message. The device ACKs my changes, but the settings on the device don’t change.
Broadcast Number Sets the number of heartbeat messages that should be sent every time the sleep interval expires. The device ACKs my changes, but the settings on the device don’t change.
NoIAmAwake Bit A single bit to disable sending heart beat messages, presumably overrides all of the other settings. The device ACKs my changes, but the settings on the device don’t change.

Other users have reported similar problems over at the Indigo support forum.

As a work around, Misterhouse will send a battery level request immediately after receiving a message from the RemoteLinc.  The RemoteLinc will stay awake after sending a message for the amount of time specified in Awake Interval, I set mine to 10 seconds. Battery level requests will only be sent if the amount of time since the last battery level response has exceeded a defined threshold.

All of this works well, except for rarely used devices.  It is possible that such a remotelinc could die without there being a chance to query its battery level.

Insteon All-Link Control Flags

Insteon All-Link Control Flags

For whatever reason it is difficult to locate the breakdown of the Insteon All-Link Control Flags.

Link Control Flags:
Bit 7: 1 = Record is in use, 0 = Record is available
Bit 6: 1 = Controller (Master) of Device ID, 0 = Responder to (Slave of) Device ID
Bit 5: 1 = ACK Required, 0 = No ACK Required (currently always set to 1)
Bit 4: Reserved
Bit 3: Reserved
Bit 2: Reserved
Bit 1: 1 = Record has been used before (‘high-water’ mark)
Bit 0: Unused