Sunday 10 April 2016

A Beacon on the Internet of Things

Well - I just got my new beacon closer to where I want it: responding to remote "on / off" commands delivered from anywhere in the world via the internet.

I used the tutorial on as the basis for my solution, which now allows me to send an enabling command to the beacon of the form:

As you see, this is just a http command issued from a browser address line - but it can easily be issued by any web application. The red x's conceal my beacon's 'i-d' - I don't want you to hack into it and turn it off! The beacon 'wakes up' from power on or reset in disabled mode and will not start transmitting until I have issued an enabling command of the form above.

Although Open Home Automation's tutorial is about remote switching a physical, hardware relay, my beacon enablement is all achieved in software. I have made no hardware modification to add the remote enable / disable feature. 

When the beacon receives the enable command, it responds with a simple message in JSON format:

The name is a nice, human-readable confirmation that it really is my beacon responding.

If I want to shut down operations, I just send a similar command to disable transmission:

which stops the action and prompts an acknowledging message:

Obviously, this is only the first step to what will one day be a nice, custom interface but it works, so heck - it's time to test it... 

I checked that I really can 'Man' the 'Manned Experimental Propagation Transmitter' even when I'm not actually 'in the building' this weekend. In the inset on the map below, you can see your humble servant enabling and disabling the beacon remotely from Flamborough Head Lighthouse, some 120 miles from the shack and the beacon...

All worked f/b.

The beacon is still getting all its timing information from an NTP server on the 'net as well as responding to my remote 'commands'. It feels like it is now at the qualifying level where it really is out there on the Internet of Things (as opposed to just some little micro with a WiFi connection).

In the meantime, the beacon has been putting in a good performance, reaching out to the antipodes and South Africa...

and to Greenland...

and doing its ordinary QRSS stuff in between WSPR transmissions.

As I have said before - big thanks to all those who receive and report WSPR and other beacon modes: all these Tx experiments would be worth nothing without the continuing efforts of receiving stations.

...-.- de m0xpd

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