Archive for the NodeMCU Category


Posted in Embedded, MQTT, NodeMCU, OpenSprinklette, Orange Pi on August 16, 2017 by asteriondaedalus

I may have some more design work for the opensprinklette node-red implementation.

The nuance is that the google calendar node will happily trigger on event edges but the triggered response seems to be a dump of the calendar event parameters but not the edge that triggered the node.

It might be as simple as another parameter on the configurator to tell it whether it is for sprinklers on or off

The other might be using the before event.

Have two outputs then to act as start and stop.  Feed the stop into a timed node.

Either lapsed or absolute is another question.

Much of this is trying to think in a dataflow rather than an imperative idiom.

I want to think also about ACK from the WeMOS sectors. That might want a watchdog timer.

The lwt from the WeMOS sector will need a response. Although any sector/zone on, while WeMOS is down, falls on deaf ears.  Stil, it needs to be logged and reported.


Small steps

Posted in Embedded, ESP8266, IOT, MQTT, node-red, NodeMCU, OpenSprinklette, WEMOS D1 R2 on August 7, 2017 by asteriondaedalus

I have roughed a node-red config node and it’s visible counterpart.  I decided to call wemos nodes “sectors” – since the usual rort is to call a single channel on an irrigation controller, controlling a single solenoid, a zone.

I have set up for 4 sectors each using a WeMOS D1R2 with a quad relay shield.  That provides up to 16 zones (4 per WeMOS).

You need to mod the relay shield with a couple of pullup resisters.  This is to get around a design shortfall on the WeMOD D1R2.

I am using a protoshield in between the WeMOS and the relay shield to allow for fidgeting with design changes. I added a four position dip to set the zone id BUT I dropped that in favour of the config node concept.

That gives me back 4 pins for GPIO. The problem is the out and out lie that the WeMOS is a Uno form factor. The ESP8266 has to cheat by using the same GPIO pins across a couple of Arduino socket pins.

I will add the rain gauge input later.

The idea is an input line such as the following as the title of the google calendar event:


The line above shows you some of the input features I will aim for, being:

  • You don’t need to nominate all four sectors or even all four individual zones of a sector.
  • You can order the sectors in any order.
  • The zones per sector are number 0..4 with 0 being the global all on/off id for all 4 zones on the addressed sector.

I did think about using JSON as input but the problem is that if you have two tokens the same then the object construction takes the later value in the line for the key.  Oh well.

For this to work you attach two google calendar event sniffers, one to flag the start of an event and one to flag the end.  Both feed into the opensprinklette-configurator to decode the events into MQTT calls to the 4 WeMOS D1 R2.

Of note, the configurator maps between chipid() and sector# (and back again) so planning the sprinkling can be in people-talk (relatively speaking).  At least you don’t have to remember which WeMOS chipid() was allocated to what sector.

Of course, there are quirks to do with the distributed system.  There will be a watchdog on the WeMOS to automatically turn off the water to a zone after 45min.  To plan out longer watering you will need back to back calendar events (shorter than 45min to avoid the watchdog).  If that is offensive please send money to help me pay the water bill of a runaway commercial setup ($3,000 in fact).

The other option I guess is send the duration to the WeMOS node and let it do the countdown.

I will play with a couple of timing approaches to see what is most robust – given you could have the ISP gateway drop out, the node-red crash, the emqttd crash, the OPiZ drop of the network.  Not to mention, google calendar hickups – I occasionally get a baulk around credentials lapsing that somehow comes good again.  Oh and of course, the WeMOS could also behave badly.

All in all needs a good bashing to help weed out nuisances.

Short cuts

Posted in ESP8266, MQTT, NodeMCU, OpenSprinklette on December 18, 2016 by asteriondaedalus

The chappy doing OpenSprinkler gave me the best idea yet for the 24VAC to 5VDC to power the OpenSprinklette stack (Wemos D1 R2, fiddly bits including VAC2VDC and pullups, relay board).

Rather involves using a LM2596S-5.

I have in my bits drawers 10 LM2596S-ADJ based modules that go for US$2 a pop in packs of 10 so I will start with that for the prototype.


For the VAC2VDC the secret is to add a 3A diode (cathode to +ve volts input) of the PSU board.  It then likely passes for the circuit at the OpenSprinklette blog.

In fact, if you solder the pullups onto the two naughty GPIO pins you need to, either on WEMOS D1 R2 or the relay board, you could get by without an intermediate board.  There is still the conditioning circuits for the flow meters, but again, since we are using mqtt there is the option of a separate system for that.  I think we are already convinced that the rain gauge can twerp to an mqtt topic for example.  Although, there may be traction in a shield board for people who want no more than four zones and one unit – at least with the rain gauge input and 24VAC to 5VDC … oh and those pesky pullups.

Note we still need do something like string all the relay commons together now don’t we.

I guess the more interesting thing going on with the rain input of the OpenSprinkler is the use of a surge protection across the rain gauge input that has a Transient Voltage Suppression diode.  The selected value appears to be 48V which seems a lot but the gadget is used for ESD threats to the board (aka lightning – not strike likely but nearby EM field, up to a point).

This is actually necessary especially when there is  likely a long “antenna” from the rain gauge to the unit.

Might be less need if an ESP8266 is connected at the gauge and the solar panel and charger (we’ll need a battery to run at night time) are similarly “close by”.  Already solved in any event.  

Hmmm.  Lightning detection

Ah ha! Digital rain gauge spare parts!

Posted in ESP8266, MQTT, NodeMCU, Wifi on December 17, 2016 by asteriondaedalus

Rock it to me baby!

So, get this, for US$15 you can get a rain gauge that does naught but yep, still yep and yep, then maybe nope.

That is, the cover has a funnel and water drips in and cycles the rocker!



Simple tich?!


That likely needs nothing more than one of the ESP littlins …


… to chirp tich/toch onto a mqtt topic.

Connecting NodeMCU to a NTP server

Posted in Embedded, Lua, NodeMCU on July 4, 2016 by asteriondaedalus

Ignore the IP suggested in example.

Search google for “NTP server”.

Being Australian I am using one from the pool listed at:

Code therefore becomes:


   print('setting time to:', sec, usec, "from: " .. server)
   rtctime.set(sec, usec)
   sec, usec = rtctime.get()
   print('time set to: ', sec, usec)


The difference between times that you will see, when running this gem, is in and around 7 milliseconds which is the cost from function calls is all.

The idea would be to use a timer, set to max time and auto mode to run this occasionally to keep the time on the node synced with your local world.  That is:

tmr.register(6, 6870947, tmr.ALARM_AUTO, sntp.sync(...)) -- see above code

You might like to set a flag if the sync fails, or publish a mqtt alarm, or something more useful as the print will be lost on the world since we are deploying nodes in the real-world sans terminals.  Although consider loss of sync might also be loss of wifi access and so likely loss of communications with your mqtt server – so devilishly complicated this will all be.