Solving the refrigerator problem

We have a refrigerator downstairs that once in a while gets left open, and since it’s downstairs, we sometimes don’t catch it in time to save to food. Will and I decided to make something to help solve this.

Our plan is to use our Particle Proton (a tiny Wi-Fi development kit) and connect a temperature sensor. We’ll report that temp to “the cloud” and if the temp rises above some threshold, we’ll use IFTTT to text or call us to let us know to check the fridge.

I got us a free DS18B20 temperature sensor as a sample from Maxim Integrated (how cool is that?) and found some nice sample code here.

The prototype is now sitting in the fridge (photo above), dutifully sending out the temp every 10 seconds. The code is crazy simple.

Things we talked about while doing this:

  • Resistors in parallel and in series
  • Reading resistors
  • Analog-to-digital conversion
  • What numbers look like in binary
  • Trusting a component’s data sheet first
  • How to debug when Papa tells you to put the resistor in the wrong place

Refrigerator Problem_bb

UPDATE: The 2200mAh 3.7V battery didn’t last until morning, so Next up will be to see whether there’s a way to reduce power consumption. Fewer temp reports to the cloud will obviously help. I wonder if there’s a “low power mode”.

The “number one” goes dark until further notice

Saint Paul’s First National Bank building has a new owner and they’ve turned off the wonderful, nostalgic red neon “1” until further notice because of wind damage.

I know; it’s only a sign, and I suppose I shouldn’t be sad. But I think all of my kids have had that point at which they can recognize that we’re close to home, and it’s by seeing the red number one.

Also, I just like neon. There’s something warm and simple and  different about it. (Go admire this amazing picture.) LED restorations are wonderful and I’m glad that iconic signs sometimes get new life that way (for example, the Schmidt brewery sign), but it’s not the same.

KARE11 article here.

Tasty fish and chips @ Ward 6

Ward 6 fish and chips

Really tasty fish and chips last evening at Ward 6 on Payne.

I’ve been trying fish and chips at a lot of places over the last couple of months, in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Charleston, SC.

Other favorites (no particular order):

Oddly, I haven’t found a great place in Charleston yet, but even though they’re oceanside, Charleston is more “low country cuisine”, which doesn’t seem to be my thing.