My Custom Thermostat: Step One

2007-07-14 20:17 - General

When I moved in to my new apartment back in October, I ended up with two un-needed window AC units, because my new place has a built in through-the-wall unit, which coincidentally is also the air conditioner.

With the old window units, I used a combination of a standard appliance timer in one room, and X10 appliance module in the other. The X10 control was awesome, because I also have an X10 transmitter hooked up to my server; I was able to use it to schedule times to turn on and off in complex patterns. It was off while I was at work or asleep, and on when I was home. And, on for the weekends.

The new unit, though, I have no control over, passive or automatic. It runs on its own dedicated high voltage circuit, and none of my old gizmos would work with it. After a fair deal of looking, I found this module designed to work with this sort of high voltage outlet. Long story short, I didn't want to spend $30 (after shipping) for it. I waited, and kept wanting control I didn't have, and splurged for it a few weeks back. It doesn't work. It says it doesn't work on 3 phase circuits, and I guess I have one.

In order to even try it, though, I had to dig around enough to discover that I can pretty easily get to the back of the outlet, and that I have space to fit my own gizmo. So, now I have. I turned to my favorite electronics supplier, discount and surplus specialist All Electronics I picked up from them a heavy duty relay that switches on 120 VAC, and can handle 40 amps of 240 VAC across it's terminals. That is now hooked up to a standard X10 appliance module, and I can switch my AC on and off from mostly anywhere in my apartment, and with my computer now. Huzzah!

Step two would be to move from timed switching to thermostat switching. This was my ultimate goal, but I've moved in steps because I can. I'm working on step two, but it's proving to be difficult. I've found good plans for a temperature sensor that I can hook up to my computer, and build for well under $10. Except, perhaps, for shipping charges here and there. I just got back from a leisurely stroll to Radio Shack, they don't have any of the three different types of diodes that I need for that project, so I'm going to be forced to turn to mail order, even though I have a Radio Shack store credit card burning a hole in my pocket. But, I think I'll get there. Sooner or later.


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