The How Zone

Refrigerating the Web

Solution in search of problem

One sleeplessness night I noticed that the refrigerator seemed to be running all of the time. That got me wondering: how often does it run, how often do we open the doors, how big is the correlation between the two, and what about that light...does it ever go out? There was only one way to find out...

A few weeks earlier I had purchased a Siteplayer development kit. Siteplayer is a miniature ethernet web server module about the size of a matchbox. I didn't have real project in mind and entertained myself with the examples all the while trying to think up something interesting to "put on the web."

Then it hit me. Rather than spend hours and hours with a pad of paper and a stopwatch recording the life of our fridge I decided to put it on the web and let remote computuer scripts keep track of everything.

First off a little background on the siteplayer device. By itself it's a quarter-dollar sized device that has 8 I/O (input/output) lines and a serial line. Attach a connector and it can be hooked to ethernet and accessed via a web browser. I purchased the development board, which includes some switches, LEDs, the ethernet connector, serial connector, and power supply. This makes it easy to hook up the development computer (windows box) for creating and uploading the siteplayer setup.

Programming siteplayer is a blend of HTML and basic variable scripting. You make a regular html page, with or without images (memory is limited), and can dynamically control the text or images using siteplayer variables. For example, an image might be red or blue depending on the state of a switch. Or clicking a button on the web page can turn an LED on or off.

You can also, with a little additional hardware, setup siteplayer to send out UDP messages when triggered. Unfortunately UDP can only be triggered by a serial command or an http command and not by one of the I/O lines.

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