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The Twitt-a-watt

The Twitt-a-watt

The Twitt-a-watt - a modified Kill-a-watt - provides updates ever two seconds to an XBee-enabled PC.

If you've always thought that the one thing missing from your Twitter feed was the ability to follow your house's electrical systems, an answer may be at hand thanks to a neat hack involving XBee radio chips and cheap power monitors.

Make Magazine's entry for the Core77 & Greener Gadgets Design Competition – via Hack a Day – the Tweet-a-watt is based on a design by Phillip Torrone and Limor Fried, in which the pair created a modified Kill-a-watt power monitoring system which allows for wireless communication back to a central computer.

Although the project was originally designed to produce a series of low-cost power monitoring systems that could be retrofitted to existing power systems, the Twittering functionality was added as a neat bonus. Costing around $50 per unit, the modified Kill-a-watt units use an XBee radio chip to transfer the power usage statistics every two seconds – a frequency limited by the requirement to charge a large capacitor to provide the required power to transmit.

The result – aside from a Twitter feed even less fascinating to follow than most – is a cheap and cheerful wireless power monitoring system which can transfer data to be used in graphing the power usage of your electronic devices. This data can then be used to chart your habits, and possibly even reflect changes that could reduce your energy usage – hence the 'green' aspect for the competition.

A full guide on the construction of the device is provided by its creators, and doesn't require anything too esoteric or complex – beyond the XBee modules, of course.

Tempted to build your own wireless power monitoring system, or is the project too much hassle for too little gain? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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8 Comments

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Veles 26th January 2009, 15:21 Quote
I first read that as Twitt-a-twatt
pistol_pete 26th January 2009, 15:24 Quote
That's a lot more high tech than my power monitoring method of walking out into the hall and counting the number of flashes on the electricity meter every minute.
Floyd 26th January 2009, 16:14 Quote
Neat idea but why not just read the kill-a-watt display?
You can find brand new kill-a-watts for about 10 bucks new.
Gareth Halfacree 26th January 2009, 16:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd
Neat idea but why not just read the kill-a-watt display?
You can find brand new kill-a-watts for about 10 bucks new.
I don't know about you, but I'd find it difficult to read the display and type the results into a spreadsheet for graphing at a rate of a reading every two seconds - especially if it's in another room.
MrWillyWonka 26th January 2009, 16:36 Quote
Forgive me if I'm wrong but if you read the guide it seems that somone has yet to decode the signal? - That's if it's actually producting anything useful.
will. 26th January 2009, 17:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
I first read that as Twitt-a-twatt

Same here :D
Huxen5 26th January 2009, 18:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by will.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
I first read that as Twitt-a-twatt

Same here :D

hehe so did I.
r4tch3t 28th January 2009, 05:52 Quote
That is a good idea, and it lets you monitor each individual socket if you are so inclined.
I saw this the other ay and thought it was quite interesting. Measures the entire household consumption.
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