IoT For Tracking Utilities
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.

#Tracking Electricity with IBM Bluemix and PubNub


This is a project that demonstrates how can we track the electricity consumption of a household using IoT. This is based upon a miniature DC model of electric network within a house which is monitored by a few current sensors and Arduino YUN.

#Project Overview The project consits of a model electricity distribution network for a home, a server application and a web dashboard.

The model electric distribution network consists of

  1. A househuld electricity distribution network with two loads, a light and a fan, each having a switch to control them.
  2. A 12 volt, lead acid AT12 battery that acts as a grid to supply electricity to the household.
  3. A solar panel (18V, 10W) used as a renewable source of energy
  4. Three current sensors (ACS712) to measure current and calculate kWH of consumption and generation across the house.
  5. Arduino YUN as controller for the current sensors and sending the calculations to cloud.

A server application hosted on IBM Bluemix and keeps track of the energy consumption and generation at various points of the electric distribution.

A web dashboard presents a real time view of the energy usage in the house, based on the usage of loads.


General Prerequisites

  • This application relies on PubNub data stream network for the underlying messaging between the hardware, the server and dashboard. Ensure that the same set of PubNub keys are used across all the components while configuring and building the application software.

  • Ensure that you have signed up for IBM Bluemix and PubNub subscription.

Hardware setup

Building the model electricity distribution circuit with solar cell and battery.

The schematic diagram for the entire circuit setup is as follows.

This schematic also includes a batery charging circuit which acts as a feeder to the grid for excess enegry generated by the solar panel.

Hardware build steps

This hardware setup is a bit complex due to the presence of additional circuit to emulate the electricity distribution from grid and the presence of solar panel. The steps for building the hardware can be broken down into four phases.

Refer to the build steps to see a time lapse video of the four phases of building the hardware.

Arduino YUN Controller application

The Arduino YUN acts as the controller for sensing the current measurements.

The source code for the controller software can be built using the Makefile. There are two phases involved in the build.

Master Controller build

Build Environment Setup

The master controller is the OpenWRT application running on YUN. Before initiating the build, we need to setup the build environment on the YUN since we will be using the Adruino YUN environment itself for building the software

Step 1 : Install yun-gcc to Arduino YUN

(i)	Before installing yun-gcc, install the 	following 

		opkg update
		opkg install binutils
		opkg install make
		opkg install tar

(ii)	Now we are ready to install the yun-gcc,

		opkg -t /root install yun-gcc

This package will take about 20 minutes or more to install so be patient, once it finishes you will be ready to compile simple c or c++ programs.It is prefered to download and install this package separately so that we can see what is going on:

		cd /mnt/sda1
		opkg install yun-gcc_4.6.2-2_ar71xx.ipk

Step 2 : Installing the glibc

(i)	Download the Package glibc-source_2.19-18+deb8u1_all.deb in your laptop from the following link

(ii)	Once the package is downloaded SCP the file to the YUN using the following command running on the 	
		new terminal(modify the filename and IP address)

		scp -r Downloads/(filename).deb root@192.168.XX.XX:/root/

(iii)	Once done install the glibc,

		opkg -f /etc/opkg.conf -d ram update 
		opkg -f /etc/opkg.conf -d ram install <package-name>

Now Arduino-YUN is ready to compile and run the C Programs.

Step 3: Edit the /etc/inittab file for UART Communication

		nano /etc/inittab

Comment out the ttyATH0 line by adding # as prefix and save the file.

Master Build

Steps to be followed to build the Master Controller software of IoT for Utilities application on Arduino YUN

Step 1: Clone this repository bluemix-parking-meter from the github in your laptop/PC

			git clone

Step 2: Change the directory to the iot-for-utilities

			cd iot-for-utilities

Step 3: Clone the c-core library from the pubnub

			git clone

Step 4: Copy iot-for-utilities folder using SCP to the YUN

		scp -r iot-for-utilities root@192.168.XX.XX:/root/

Step 5: Open up the terminal and follow the commands, make sure you know the IP address of the Arduino-YUN

		ssh root@yourname/local or ssh root@192.168.XX.XX	

Step 6: Change the directory to the bluemix-parking-meter

			cd iot-for-utilities 

Step 7: Modify the Pubnub Publish and Subscribe Keys in the yun_pubnub/main.c

Step 8: To Build using the Makefile, just run


Step 9: You should see the executable file named ./solarMeter. This is the master controller program. To execute this program, run the file as follows.

		./solarMeter /dev/ttyATH0
		(where /dev/ttyATH0 is path of the UART device file)

Sensor Controller Build

Sensor controller build is for programming onboard the ATMega32 MCU which intefaces with the current sensors.

Before preceeding, we need to install Arduino IDE

Installing the Arduino IDE

- Download and Install Latest Version of Arduino IDE from 


- Start Arduino IDE and Plug the Development Board

Step 1: Open the file device/current_sense_new/current_sense_new.ino from this repo in Arduino IDE

Step 2: Select the Board from Tools - > Board - > Arduino YUN

Step 3: Select the USB Port from Tools - > Port - > yourname @ ipaddress [Arduino-YUN]

Step 4: Upload the Code

Server Setup

The server has a DashDB component which provides a data store for capturing realtime energy usage data.

Deploying DashDB Service

Step 1: Login to Bluemix with your credentials.

Step 2: In your Bluemix dashboard, goto Catalog and select the Data and Analytics Section

		You can see that the dashDB service will be listed under this section or you can search for dashDB 

Step 3: Click on dashDB service icon and create a dashDB service instance for your space by filling following details,

		1) Space - Your space name where you want to add this service ( This might have been preselected if you have an existing space)
			2) App   - You can select "leave unbound"
		3) Service name - Enter a name for the service of your choice
		4) Credential name - Enter a name for the Credential of your choice
		5) Selected Plan - Choose 'Entry'.
		6) Click CREATE to create the dashdb service instance.

Step 4: After creation of the service, go back to dashboard.Now you can see the dashDB service added to your space. Click the service and click the launch button and you can see your newly created dashDB service home page.

Step 5: In the dashDB service home page, under the Side Menu, under the Connect -> Connection information,

You can see your dashDB Host name,Database name,user id and password.

    Make a note of Host Name, Port Number , Database Name, User ID and Password.

Step 6: In the Side Main Menu, click on "Run SQL" and you will be presented the Run SQL screen. Click on the 'Open' button and choose the SQL schema file

	- The SQL command (CREATE_TABLE) will be displayed in the text area.
	- Click on the 'Validate' button to ensure that SQL syntax is valid
	- Click on the 'Run' button to execute the SQL statements.

Step 7: If the Run command executed successfully , you will be able to see the new tables created under your dashDB instance

	- Click on "Tables" sub menu
	- Select the table from "Table Name" dropdown to access the table schema and data
	- You can find the tables named "IOT_ENERGYGRID_TABLE" listed under the dropdown

Hosting the Application Server on Bluemix

Perform the followign steps for hosting the application server on IBM Bluemix.

Step 1 - Update the parameters in the server config file

pub_key = PubNub Publish Key
sub_key = PubNub Subscribe Key
databaseschema = User ID of the DashDB instance , in caps
databasename = Database name
hostname  = Database Host Name
tablename = Table name is set to IOT_ENERGYGRID_TABLE
userid = User ID of the DashDB instance
password = Password of dashDB instance
portnumber = Port Number

Step 2 - Open the manifest file and update the follwing entries

Line 12 - Change 'IoTEnergyGrid_DashDB' to the actual dashDB service name you have given while creating the dashDB service instance ( Step 3 in 'Deploying DashDB Service').

Step 3 - Login to Bluemix console via cf tool and select the space.

Step 4 - Change directory to the server application root directory (powerGrid_server) under the cloned github repository.

Step 5 - Run the following command to push the application code to bluemix

	'cf push' 

Once successfully pushed, the server application will be automatically started. You can check its state in your bluemix dashboard and see that it is set to 'Running'

Web Dashboard

The Web Dashboard is also hosted on Bluemix, under NodeJS SDK.

In order to create a new NodeJS SDK service instance, perform the following steps.

Step 1 : Choose the Node.js runtime from the Bluemix Catalog section

Step 2 : Select your space and give a name for your application

Step 3 : Download your Nodejs SDK starter code

--> The starter code comprises of 
1) "app.js"        -- contains the server-side initialization code for Node.js
2) "package.json"  -- contains of all the dependencies used in the server-side app
3) "manifest.yml"  -- generated and defines how the app should be deployed
4) "public"        -- Is a folder for containing the front-end web page files and related assets (HTML/CSS/JS), etc

Copy the contents of the web dashboard source folder under the public folder

Step 4 : Go to the root folder of the downloaded starter code and using the command "cf push" upload the application in the Bluemix

Note that you might have to log in to your bluemix account using the cf tool before you can initiate 'cf push' command. 

Step 5 : Open the Bluemix Dashboard and open your application and you can find your application URL

You can launch the web dashboard on Firefox by typing the URL. Please not that currently this dashboard will work only on Mozilla Firefox.

Here is how the dashboard looks like.

Application working

Fire up the circuit and you can see the energy stats getting captured in server DashDB and also displayed on the dashboard. The behaviour of the application will primarily depend on the power output of solar panel. It is advisable to test this with the solar panels exposed under sunny conditions.

If you have any queries, or difficulty in emulating the setup or running the application, please raise an issue on the this repository.