I want to thank Element 14 and Texas Instruments for selecting me for the challenge.
I had initially proposed to implement a lightning sensor or a birdfeeder defense against squirrels. I chose the lightning sensor, both because I need it for my photography work, but also because I had a brilliant idea, which will remain a surprise for now.
In my area, Ohio USA, we get a fair number of lightning storms each year. In August/September, we can get daily popup thunderstorms, which can be deadly if you are out in the backyard or at a park just enjoying the day.
These popup storms can form in a matter of hours and the lightning can strike even if the sky overhead is clear. There are confirmed instances where people have been hit over 20 miles from the storms center.
So knowing when to take cover is essential and could save your life.
Lightning provides a number of useful signals that you can detect from some distance away and give you lead time to reach safety.
One signal is the flash of light that occurs due to the energy discharge. The flash also creates a large EM pulse as the charge flows through the clouds.
There is also the thunder sound, which is only reliable from about 6 miles away, usually too late for the long bolts to give you adequate warning.
Once you have detected a lightning event, you need to alert people to its danger.
A simple buzzer will do, but I will add a little visual cue as well.
I also decided to monitor the sunlight exposure to provide warning of sun burn potential. This issue is key for me as being fair skinned, I can get 2nd degree sunburn in as little as twenty minutes.
I also decided to add a body temperature measurement. Heat stroke is also fatal to people, especially someone like me who is taking certain medications that make the body much more susceptible to overheating.
Now, if I have time, there are some other features I can add, but it is always good practice to get the core issues working first, before you decide to add other features.
So, first we have to get down to selecting the final project parameters.
After looking carefully at the CC3200 board, I decided that the outdoor lightning detector would fit it well.
I also saw a number of other features I could add to make the IoT project portable and more versatile.
The first thing I need to do is design the lightning Flash detector. I have a very good light detector from some salvaged parts that will do very nicely.
I also have some nice optics that will make the job of flash detecting easier.
Instead of a microphone thunder detector I have decided to use a low powered RF flash detector so that the device could be used in doors or out.
I also decided to use the temperature sensor to keep track of outdoor temperature and add a body temperature sensor to see if the wearer was over heating.
The same light detector can also provide a sun intensity reading to assess sunburn exposure.
Lastly, I will use a body heat sensor, probably a LM35, another salvaged part from an old printer.
So there are the basic features I plan to implement.
Now I need to complete the design and decide upon the other components I might need so I have time to buy some parts.
So standby, I will do another blog soon.