New year, new location! next 414 meet is only days away!

Happy new year to all! May your hacks bring you good fortune and much delight!

the next 414 meet is only a few short days away, on Friday January 7th, 2022! We have collectively decided to move our meet to a NEW LOCATION! Please check the meetings page for the most up to date info. This month it’ll be at Dickens Grille & Spirits, 9646 W Greenfield Ave, West Allis, WI 53214. We’ll have the run of the downstairs room, allowing a bit better communication as well as space for demos once again. Food, and drink will be available!

We are also maintaining our hybrid status, meetings will be available via Discord and should be much improved this month.

-darkwind

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This week only! On sale! Fresh hacking! December 414 meetup!

Coming soon to a gaming bar near you! You won’t find sales that will satisfy the same way joining us at the next meetup will do! Come hack with us at the 414s on December 3rd, once again at Binary! 7pm. There will be demos! There will be games! There will be drinks! Food! Giant Jenga! Not to mention more than a dozen of your fellow hackers to meet up with!

See you there!

-darkwind

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New mailing list!

Two items needed an out of band update: the old mailing list is no longer under control of our group. Any messages coming from it, or having been sent after 11/03/2021 do not represent us.

So we have a brand new mailing list! If you like your news from us to come to your e-mail box, the way to get that done is to hit that “Mailing List” link in the menu bar above, and sign up! Promise we won’t spam!

-darkwind

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November is getting cold, but the next meeting is coming in HOT!

Hi Hackers!

Our next meet is but a week away! We have a NEW LOCATION! Find us at Binary, located at 9105 W Lincoln Ave in West Allis! https://g.page/Binarygfs

We’ll also have Discord handy, so in the event you’d rather stay virtual, join us at https://discord.gg/DrtEyNbG7u!

See you there!

-darkwind

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Here comes a spooooky October dc414 meeting!

Hey hackers!

Today is October, and today is Friday. Know what that means? The first Friday of the month! Another dc414 meeting!

There will be demos! There will be games! There will be cupcakes! And it’s a great opportunity to interact with your fellow hackers!

Find us in person tonight by visiting https://dc414.org/meetings/, or by joining us on Discord by using https://discord.gg/DrtEyNbG7u!

See you there!

darkwind

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insert coin, have meeting

Our next meeting is days away! Our last one was a success, so we’re doing it again, same location, same time! See https://www.dc414.org/meetings/ for details on where to go on Friday!

If you can’t make it, or don’t yet want to join us in person, come hang out with us on Discord. https://discord.gg/DrtEyNbG7u

We will have live video streams to tune into, and interact with us virtually!

-darkwind

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We’re back, baby!

Hey folks! We are doing an IN-PERSON meet this month. It’s at a new location, so make sure to see https://www.dc414.org/meetings/ for details. Same time and date, which is First Friday of the month at 7pm!

We will continue to stream meetings via Jitsi, if you prefer, use https://meet.jit.si/dc414 as usual.

-darkwind

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Dc414 Meetings will be virtual due to COVID-19

Join the meeting on every first Friday @ 7PM
https://meet.jit.si/dc414

DC414 will be going virtual for our meetings due to safety concerns for members and our communities. Please spread the word to your friends! Do not show up to the physical meet spot!

This meeting will be hosted on dc414.org infrastructure using Jitsi meet software.
It is known that Jitsi works best on Chromium based browsers (Chromium, Brave, Google Chrome).

On the first Friday of every month starting at 7 PM please click on the following link to join us in the DC414 virtual meeting!

Join the meeting on every first friday @ 7PM
https://meet.jit.si/dc414
Share with your friends!

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Home Energy Monitoring – Part 1: Babby’s first PCB

I’m a bit of a data nerd and have been gathering metrics from my local machines for sometime now. The ability to see trends is really powerful when diagnosing problems and tuning performance.

I’m using the TIG stack – Telegraf (data collection), InfluxDB (time series database), and Grafana (visuals and alerting).

Grafana dashboard – file server

I wanted to utilize these same tools for monitoring energy usage in my house. I set out a goal to be able to see energy usage in near real time, per circuit, using mostly free software and hardware.

I ran across an excellent post on boredman’s blog that describes the hardware side of a system that very closely matches my goal. I immediately went out and acquired the pieces to play with this for myself. It wasn’t long before I had something working on my bench.

Current transformer and AC-AC voltage inputs into Arduino Due

With a working proof of concept it was time to think about next steps. For me this was form factor, scaling. The Arduino Due supports 12 analog inputs. One will be consumed for Voltage measurements using an AC-AC transformer and the others will be for current measurements from current transformers on each circuit in my house. I have 22 circuits in my electrical panel — I will need two Arduinos or find better way to add analog inputs.

Input board 1.0

Fritzing is software for creating PCBs for newbies. Perfect. I was able to cobble together a board with CT (current transformer) and voltage inputs to a pin header thinking I could run a ribbon cable from the input board to Arduino. It wasn’t too hard to get going in Fritzing but I found it difficult to get something that looked nice and wasn’t even sure it would work. This board only has a burden resistor for each CT input.

Read more about CT burden resistors and home energy monitoring at the excellent Open Energy Monitor project
https://learn.openenergymonitor.org/

Fritzing – Input board 1.0

I was worried that I would be getting a lot of interference since I’m dealing with AC signals and overall felt I could do better. I iterated, this time using Eagle PCB design software. I extended to scope to capture the remaining components for each input and make it be able to plug directly into an Arduino Due.

There simple wasn’t enough room on the Arduino for 11 x 3.5mm TRS (audio jacks) inputs so I had to design the board with some margins to accommodate the inputs.

Version 1.1 was born

I followed this tutorial on Sparkfun for Eagle basics. You start by building your schematic in Eagle. You can pull in libraries of parts from places like Sparkfun which is really convenient. You then connect parts together using nets. Nets are like a virtual wire. Any wire/pin/whatever on Net1 will be connected.

After you’ve connected all your parts to nets, you then can switch to the PCB view. The PCB view will be a mess of parts all over but the important thing is that you can see how they’re connected by a yellow line. This is the virtual wire of the net. Organize your parts and click that ratnest button often. Don’t get too attached to one layout. I wish I had spent more time on one part of the board before moving on to duplicate my layout to the rest (ended up going back and changing all the things multiple times).

Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned when building boards: Take advantage of your copper layers!

I’m sure this is obvious to anyone but a newbie, but each layer of a PCB contains a copper plane. Most simple boards are dual layer, that means you have two planes of copper to work with. You will almost always need to connect many components to ground and power. Use one layer as a ground plane and another as power. Now components that need a ground or power connection get it almost for free, no need to route long traces!

In Eagle you choose the layer you want to work on and draw a polygon then click the ratnest button to connect components to that layer of copper. Note that for top layer components to connect to the bottom copper layer, you will need to use a via.

I submitted the board to OSH Park for fabrication and ordered all the parts off mouser. Excited to test out the board. Next post I will talk about how assembling the board using SMD components go (I have three boards on the way, bound to screw up :)). Fingers crossed.

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dc414 June going on now!

Just look for the sign!

-darkwind

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