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hot_rod Member Posts: 22,114
My son Max attended this Hackathon this weekend in Louisville. He attended as a sponsor this time and didn't get involved in a build.


Basically you show up with a team, or assemble a team when you arrive. Your name badge indicates your expertise, programmer, engineer, designer, maker, etc.

You have access to all the high tech tools and staff technicians to help build your invention or idea. GE is behind this Hack and it is mainly appliances. If the product makes it to the market somehow you get royalties for a few years.

We need to get some of these going for the HVAC industry.

Makerspace is the concept, they are popping up all over. Some are memberships like a gym. You have access to all the equipment, tools and knowledge base of the other members. You and pay for the supplies you use.
Bob "hot rod" Rohr
trainer for Caleffi NA
Living the hydronic dream
ChrisJkcopprick in AlaskaSWEIdelta T


  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    I think it's a pretty cool idea.

    I was an Instructor at Tech Shop in Pittsburgh and that was a really neat Maker Space. Lots of interesting people with various backgrounds and skill sets.

    I've been doing a project here at Barnes & Jones that has taken me pretty far down the wormhole. It all started with an Arduino to control a solenoid and now I'm getting circuit boards printed and have become marginally familiar with computer code.

    I'll be honest that I have outsourced much of the complicated code, soldering etc but have learned a lot just by being around it.

    I was just thinking of a home based project that utilizes the Raspberry Pi DIY computer. I have one here that runs my test lab. It controls a 120V steam solenoid, gathers data and then outputs to a website. They are really inexpensive and incredibly powerful in terms of what they can do. Would like to make a solar powered weather station from one and have it hooked to my wifi in the house.

    Another really cool technology I just discovered is the Amazon Echo. Got one last week and the voice control is super cool. I know they have appliances from GE that will take controls from it. I think it is also possible to interface the Nest thermostat to it.
    Peter Owens
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,281
    Love this idea, @hot rod! Thanks for sharing.

    @Sailah - I think that Honeywell Total Comfort Connect, Lyric, and Ecobee3 are also compatible with Echo. Enjoy it!
  • Boon
    Boon Member Posts: 260
    In a different thread, @Harvey Ramer said "...if engineers got off their collective rumps, and give us intelligent controls, we could eliminate even more hardware, and the industry could become more competitive. The contractors have to also step up to the plate and become more innovative..."

    I'm sure lots of folks on this site have some innovative ideas but don't have an outlet to give them a try, though I suspect many of you have the ear of manufacturers; maybe that isn't enough.

    If not an organized hackathon, how about a few of us getting together and moving the needle a little? I'm willing to help create some cool stuff. Maybe @Sailah is, too, or at least may know some folks who would be interested. Does anyone care to share some ideas?

    I'm a pretty good combination of nerdy, mechanical, and analytical but my ideas for innovating this industry involve piping a really large coffee zone. How do I get into a situation that requires coffee in GPMs... maybe if I make a large lava lamp zone then people will come over and drink coffee.
    DIY'er ... ripped out a perfectly good forced-air furnace and replaced it with hot water & radiators.
  • margsuarez
    margsuarez Member Posts: 54
    Hi guys,

    I am in contact with @Sailah because I am planning to build a monitor using the new Raspberry Pi Zero (which cost $0.99!). I wanto to be able to view status/logs from a web page on my phone.

    I already have it speaking modbus to my Solo 110 thanks to @Abracadabra (http://sandeen.net/wordpress/energy/residential-boiler-monitoring-via-modbus/)

    To start I will set it up with 10 temperature probes to watch my radiant/hydroair/AC system. The boiler already monitors supply and return from the boiler and DHW loops. I figure I will monitor radiant supply (mixed), 5 returns from my radiant floor manifold, hydro air return, duct supply and return, maybe HRV duct supply and return - any other ideas?

    I have also installed the Amazon Alexa package and will look into making a skill for the Echo.

    I will be happy to share the design. Yes, let's hack!

    Triangle Tube Prestige Solo 110 with Trimax Controls (3x oversized)
    950 sqft of WarmBoard on 3 floors, 5 loops acting as one zone
  • Boon
    Boon Member Posts: 260
    I picked up some Figaro gas sensors - CO, Nat gas, LP - last week but not really sure which direction to take them. Thanks for the modbus link!

    I didn't realize Pi was that cheap. I've been using Particle's photon and electron for wifi & cellular. I've done plenty of mundane stuff, like automating my chicken coop door over the web, and I have been looking for something more meaningful that can scale beyond my own situation(s).
    DIY'er ... ripped out a perfectly good forced-air furnace and replaced it with hot water & radiators.
  • Koan
    Koan Member Posts: 439
    This is all so cool - I was a physics major but switched to get a BS in mechanical engineering (long time ago). Now I'm a recovering engineer. Been looking for an outlet like this.
    My best so far was the use of a 2" plastic PVC pipe with holesaw holes pushed all the way through the wet header to flush it wo crud going back to the boiler. Not very sexy but effective. Fit like a champ! I will try to post a pic.

    If we can produce reliable electromechanical control systems I can see some real innovation - very exciting. Look what EFI did for muscle cars!

    BTW - I have never seen a steam boiler with efficiency ratings as high as hot water boilers. Is that because of the phase transformation or because there is a more limited market??

    I'm attaching a pic for @Boon, not about innovation though. LOL

  • rlaggren
    rlaggren Member Posts: 160
    Where would be a good area to invest time in? What part of the system? End user controls? Installer aids? Performance enhancement? Overall system design considering modern tech capabilities?

    What platform to aim at? Ultra modern mod-cons, new install? All installed units (add-ons and enhancements)? Heating? A/C? Does emitter type matter?

    Applicable to all: What can (potentially) be completed and available to install (make the world better) in the shortest time? Compliant w/safety and code, of course.

    Talking best mind-buck/bang here. Considering tech will obsolete most stuff we handle w/in six months. That's probably why we don't see more whiz-bang stuff - manufacture-deployment lead time is probably at least two years. So maybe overall system design philosophy might have the most effect. Ie. lead the target some when you shoot. :)

    disclaimer - I'm a plumber, not a heating pro.
  • Sailah
    Sailah Member Posts: 826
    I'm right smack in the middle of testing a LoRa sensor network.

    LoRa is a long-range wireless protocol with exceptionally low battery draw ideal for sensor harvesting. The modules that transmit the data can run for 7-10 years on a AA battery.

    The actual radios have a very low payload capacity but for our sensors we are using the benefits are awesome.

    I have a 6' antenna on our roof at the factory. I'm getting 3/4-1 mile of range in an urban environment. Through buildings, concrete, trees, semi truck containers etc.

    I think the possibilities are endless when you think that a single LoRa gateway can handle 100,000+ nodes and the ability to harvest and process all that data could be very valuable.

    I am testing at a university in Boston tomorrow. Will be interesting to see what kind or range I can get when I put the antenna on the roof of a tall building.

    My gateway uses a cellular backhaul to transmit data back to my cloud server. Which means I don't need to use wifi or expensive cellular end nodes that can't run on batteries.

    Bit off track for this discussion but they support Raspberry Pi

    Here's who I am using for application support

    Peter Owens