The Internet SteamGauge is a simple idea of monitoring Internet usage on a old steam pressure gauge.
Turning virtual data into reality
Amazing, Informative, Fun, Satisfying, Beautiful, Old-yet-New... The appeal of having a 100 year old gauge on the wall that shows the current Internet usage is hard to describe. It's a physical representation of both old world technology combined with our current virtual lifestyles. Mine is on the office wall behind my desk. Everyone who sees it, after asking what it is, loves it.
What's our Internet usage today?
At the moment it's 140 Megabits per second.
How it works
I've written a program which runs on a Raspberry Pi computer to poll an Internet router every 10 seconds. This data is sent to an Arduino microcontroller which is connected to a servo that moves the needle on the gauge.
If this sounds complicated, and yet you're interested, then you might want to have one custom built for you. See the rewards.
The details (for the geeks, like me)
The Raspberry Pi runs a Python program which loops an snmpget command to read SNMP data from your Internet router every 10 seconds. This data is then used to calculate the averaged bandwidth and adjusted to the range of the specific gauge. (the averaged time can be adjusted for a less dynamic gauge movement).
The data is sent to an Arduino Micro which runs a sketch to slow and smooth the movement of the gauge. The Arduino is connected to a servo which is linked to the gauge's original mechanism.
Simple Network Management Protocol. This is how the SteamGauge (Raspberry Pi actually) gets the data from your router. It's necessary that your router can use SNMP and that you (or the friend you go to when you have computer problems) have a basic understanding of it, so you can properly configure the SteamGauge to work in your network. You'll need an SNMP community name (or password) and the SNMP variable that matches your Internet connection interface.
I wanted to include a cool case for the Raspberry Pi and I found a great one! The Helado case designed by Kevin Sauwatari was actually a Kickstarter project that almost made it to his funding goal. I think his case is just beautiful and a perfect design complement for the Internet SteamGauge. He's given me permission to offer a select few of these cases in my Kickstarter project. YEAH!
[Yours will have a pressure gauge dial engraved into the top as an added feature]
The Helado case is designed for the Raspberry Pi version B, not the recently introduced B+. If you'd like to help me convince him to resurrect this unique RasPi case and maybe offer them to the world, I think you can donate to the cause on his website. http://qnoggin.com/helado.htm
By funding this project, you will receive the custom software I've written to make the whole thing work. And depending on the funding level, some or all of the hardware. (SD card, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, servo, and the very cool Helado RasPi case)
If I find a manufacturer for replica brass pressure gauges, the completed project will be a kit that can be assembled into a working Internet SteamGauge. The kit price will be dependent on the price of the replica. My goal is $400-500.
This is an advanced project for the tech savvy. Getting the SteamGauge to talk to you Internet router can be a challenge. But it's one I'm also willing to help you with.
I'd like to see an Internet SteamGauge on your wall too.
You can check my SteamGauge site for updates on the kit availablity.
Risks and challenges
I received such great complements, I decided to see if I could build a kit. As it turned out, there are two problems with an Internet SteamGauge kit.
Problem 1: Beautiful 100 year old gauges are hard to find.
I'm researching the idea of purchasing replica brass gauges. If that's impossible, then the gauge will need to be supplied by you. The deliverable will become the electronics and the software.
Problem 2: Monitoring Internet traffic takes a bit of technical skill.
Connecting to your Interent provider equipment (router/cable modem/DSL) can prove difficult. Your Internet router must support SNMP and you need to know how to access it. Most routers do, but not all.
I wish I could make this a simple plug-n-play device but it is a little more complicated and requires a working knowledge of SNMP to configure it properly. However I can, and will, offer my assistance so you can have one of your own.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (24 days)