Do you know that your gadgets and kitchen appliances are actually costing to run? If you actually take a step back and realise the cost of running your favourite console, your TV’s and stereos you may think twice about taking them off standby.
We all know that we should be keeping an eye on our energy consumption for the sake of the environment, but how many of us actually do? Juice Electrical Supplies recently produced this infographic based on the data collected by the Energy Saving Trust to encourage people to use more energy saving devices, to swap to energy saving light bulbs and maybe, just maybe, turn off their appliances behind them.
When you actually show how much the average home owners energy consumption is you become much more likely to affect change. When it is the consumers’ pockets that are lighter, when they realise that not only will they be helping the environment but also making their wallets a little fatter by saving money more people will make the change.
Take a trip through the infographic and start to add up how much your gadgets are costing you – you may be surprised!
Automating a greenhouse or a garden can be one of the more interesting and practical projects to get stuck in to at home. Our favorite projects that you can carry out on regular basis to automate a greenhouse are garden are discussed below. They are all driven with by Raspberry Pi mini-computers and integrated with additional gadgets and sensors through Arduino microcontrollers to ensure good functionality.
1. Computerized and Automated Grow box
Existing grow boxes have shortcomings that need to be rectified. For instance, they cannot control the temperature and are can only be used in small spaces. To overcome this, new software with temperature and moisture sensors can be used and using Arduino and a Raspberry Pi as the computer, the heat-emitting bulbs and full light incandescent bulbs can be integrated in a system and controlled separately. The system is very capable of controlling temperature and light in the greenhouse as well as sensing moisture levels using simple humidity sensors. You can also install a monitoring mechanism to detect the presence of wildlife around the green house and to monitor the growth of plants remotely.
2. Installing a moisture sensor
Moisture sensors can be made using two galvanized nails in the soil at a particular distance and connecting them with a conductor. An electric current can easily pass through if there is moisture and due to the fact that the level of moisture is hard to determine, you have to make sure that the moisture sensor is very accurate and efficient. You will also have to use the following:
- A soldering iron and wire
- A conducting wire
- The wire is soldered on to the PS2 controller
The simpler and more reliable answer might simply to get an off the shelf moisture sensor with a calibrated output.
This is an Arduino project that you can buy from a local electronic shop. It is an integrated Ethernet port with plant moisture meter and tweets moisture monitor that alerts you when the plants need water. The computer development kit contains the following:
- An Ethernet module
- 5 resistors
- Two buttons
- Leaf shaped circuit board
- ATMEGA micro-controller chip
- A number of capacitors
- Metal probes
To assemble the kit you follow instructions at the official Botanicalls site. By using the Botanicalls together with the components in the computer development kits, you will be able check the moisture level in the greenhouse or garden through your phone, although I’m quite sure whether I would want my plants nagging me on Twitter to water them.
4. Building an Indoor computerized Grow box
This build is a self-contained unit with a plant moisture sensor, soil moisture sensor, and temperature probe, so that the system can easily deal with extended periods of unattended care. The indoor grow box is created with enough room to withstand bigger plants. The following are some of the requirements:
Ceramic reptile heaters and advanced LED to provide both light and necessary heat for the grow box.
- A CPU fan
- A hosepipe and low pressure pump for watering purposes
If you are an expert at using different types of computer software, then this project will be very easy for you. By connecting your phone and other gadgets to Wi-Fi, you will be able to control the fan, the ceramic reptile heaters and a big enough water reserve would, theoretically, allow you to go on holiday without your plants dying from neighbors neglect. By adding a camera to the system, you could remotely observe and care for your plants from the other side of the country or the world.
5. Wireless Outdoor Camera for a Wildlife Project
Once the other parts are in place, you can add a few additional cameras into the system to watch for wildlife, either to prevent marauding vermin or to keep track of a rare species that might be in your area. A wireless, motion detecting Raspberry Pi to monitor all strange happenings around your greenhouse and garden is the perfect solution to this as it doesn’t require you to have power and network cable all over your garden. Here’s what you will need:
- Raspberry Pi
- Wireless LAN USB Adapter
- A USB webcam cinema
- 11000mAH External Battery Pack (or similar)
- Linux and Motion software
Once you have got all the parts together you have a complete package. A computer controlled greenhouse for tomato plants that could also deal with the sprinkler duty for your lawn is teamed up with a grow box for seedlings and cuttings. Your houseplants will automatically tell you if they need watering and whether you have groundhogs digging up your vegetables, or a bird nesting in a tree, you will always be up to date and informed.
The only thing you need is an excuse if you still manage to kill the plants.
- License: Image author owned
- License: Image author owned
- License: Image author owned
Christopher Parkinson originally studied microprocessor design theory before testing phone lines and repairing faulty circuit boards for a couple of telco companies. His interest in electronics started at an early age when he used a screwdriver to open up a video game console to see how it worked. These days Chris is a home electronics enthusiast who enjoys tampering with the latest technology when not writing about the latest Raspberry Pi kits from Newark.
Looking for a great security app for your cell phone but don’t know where to start? There are hundreds of different apps that you can use to keep your data safe, use for parental control software or even use to keep your employees online.
Security apps have thousands of applications so you can definitely find one for anything that you want to do. Before you go looking for security apps, decide what you are looking for, how much you are going to pay for it and then search. You’re sure to find something for your phone and your phone’s operating system.
Antivirus App – An antivirus app is unfortunately necessary if you have a Windows 8, Android or Blackberry phone. While you can find some antivirus apps for Apple, they are few and far between but still useful. Did you know that about 25% of spammers and hackers are now targeting mobile devices with their malicious software? If you aren’t protected, you could be losing your important personal data! Great options include mobile versions of popular antivirus systems such as Norton or etc.
Parental Control – Keeping your kid’s safe is important and we all want to do our part. If you’ve given your kids a phone you have to worry about cyber bullying inappropriate content and even sexting. In fact, it’s estimated that about 70% of kids either sext or share inappropriate photos! You can use parental software including mobile spy apps like mSpy or etc. or you can learn more about your parental control options and have your kids show you their phones every night. However, this won’t prevent them from texting something naughty and then deleting it.
Phone Tracking – Whether you want to know where your phone is if you lose it or it gets stolen or want to know where the owner of a phone is, phone tracking apps are invaluable. Mobile spy apps will usually contain features that will let you accurately track the exact GPS location of any phone as long as it has battery and internet.
There are hundreds if not thousands of free security apps you can download, but you should remember that the best ones will probably cost money. Most good antivirus apps will cost a yearly subscription and so will any parental control or phone tracking apps you decide to download. You and your families, safety is important, especially on your mobile phone.
A document scanner can be a essential tool for your business. If you’re the type that wants less paper to deal with, you can quickly scan all those business cards and receipts into your computer. But, which document scanner is right for you. The following will help you choose a reliable document scanner for your business.
Determine Document Types
Do you plan on scanning business cards or full-sheet documents? In most cases, people need a scanner that can handle a variety of sizes. For that reason, you want to look for a document scanner that adjusts to accommodate something as small as a business card or as large as a letter. This ensures that you don’t end up having to go back out and find another scanner than will handle different sizes.
Look at Volume Needs
If you’re only going to be scanning a few documents here and there, almost any document scanner can handle your needs. If you’ll be scanning less than 1,000 pages per day, a workstation style scanner is a great, affordable option. However, if you plan to scan many more documents per day, you will need a more professional scanner that can handle the load. Production scanners can handle up to 100,000 pages per day. In most cases, the typical person, or even small business, will not require this type of scanning output.
Consider Stationary or Portable
Do you want a scanner that sits neatly on your desk or are you more concerned with a document scanner that you can take anywhere? For example, if you meet with clients in their homes, it would help to have a portable scanner that could be used to scan information, such as driver’s licenses or proof of income. If a portable scanner is what you need, make sure to choose a quality scanner that is tough and small enough to be easily carried in your laptop bag.
Remember Your Budget
Budget is essential. When shopping for a document scanner, choose a model that meets your need and your budget. In other words, you don’t want to invest more money than necessary. If a $200 document scanner meets your needs, why purchase one that costs $400? Set a budget that you’re comfortable with, but don’t spend that amount if you don’t have to.
Document scanners are a great way to cut back on the amount of paper that is cluttering your office. Instead of stacks of paper and business cards, you can soon have a neat desk and all your paperwork filed away in the proper folders on your computer.
About the Author: Bryon Mandy loves to look for new technological devices he can incorporate into his workplace. He’s great at finding discount toner, high-quality software programs, and anything computer related.