BBoilRF

This blog post is about a project I have been working on lately, the BBoilRF. It is a general purpose internet-connected relay actuator/gateway with support for low power, battery operated remote wireless sensor nodes. It was designed primarily for use as a thermostat with an option for wireless temperature sensors capability, but is highly configurable and can suit various other use cases as well. The hardware and firmware are designed with safety, security, and reliability in mind, aiming to add true and measurable value to the end user. The project is a significantly more advanced version of previous prototypes/projects of mine, below are the feature highlights:

  • Hardware
    • Powered by the popular ESP8266, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi SoC
    • One high-quality 16A Relay with NC/NO/C terminals in dry contact configuration
    • HW/SW RTC implementation using DS1339 (option), NTP
    • HW encryption support (atsha204, optional)
    • Up to four DS18B20 temperature sensors on single port for wired temperature measurement (option)
    • 433Mhz FSK module (RFM69) to support wireless battery operated remote nodes
      • Wireless temperature sensors support, up to 4 per BBoilRF
        • Battery operated remote temperature/humidity sensors
        • Long battery life, up to 2 years
        • Long range – up to 250m in ideal conditions
        • Automatic transmission strength control
        • Hardware RF signal encryption
        • Two temperature sensors per remote node – one onboard and one on extension jack (as option)
        • Easy and secure pairing with the gateway
      • Wireless control keyfob support (details in a separate blog post)
      • Wireless smoke detector/fire sensor (details in a separate blog post)
      • Wireless flooding sensor (details in a separate blog post)

The product has passed CE certification. The certification process was quite challenging, but also a learning experience.

  • Firmware

The firmware was created using Espressif’s nonOS SDK and features:

  • Control API over
    • MQTT (TLS supported)
    • HTTP (WS supported)
  • Easy initial setup via
    • AP web configuration portal
    • smartConfig
  • Cloud firmware upgrade (FOTA) capable
  • Supported operating modes
    • Simple or scheduled on/off function
    • Thermostat function
      • Heating/cooling modes
      • Manual setpoint mode or weekly state/set point schedule
      • Configurable hysteresis
      • Boost mode
    • Pulsed mode (e.g. garage door opener)

Firmware for the relay control/RF gateway unit currently consists of 57K lines of code and was developed over the course of a year and a half.

  • Front-end
    • Android/iPhone application was developed and available, web control also possible from any device
    • Weekly telemetry charts

BBoilRF was developed for my startup company – proSmart. The project provided me with invaluable new knowledge and experience in the end-to-end IoT product development business. There are currently well over 10K+ BBoilRF devices manufactured and online, this posed quite a few challenges to address in the areas of:

• Solution architecture (software, hardware), scalability, load balancing, microservices management
• Hardware R&D and supply chain management
• Product certification
• Secure low power wireless remote sensor networks and nodes
• Software (firmware, backend & front-end) R&D management
• Remote firmware update strategies
• Remote telemetry collection, transport and storage on cloud server for later analysis (time series), Big Data strategies
• Mobile application development strategies for all platforms (iPhone, Android, Windows)

 

BBoilRF users’s manual

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