IoTBox. First steps…

“I want one! – actually can I have 30?”

I took my idea to a few people – the inventors of NodeRed and a couple of members of the team and they thought that the idea was sound – produce a simple IoTBox that we can use in demonstrations to show how connected devices can make use of our products. I was then asked “Can we have 30 ready in a few weeks?”. I had better work fast!.

I needed a good code base to work from. Something that allowed me to use a web browser to setup the device and included the functionality (HTTPD, MQTT, Temperature) I needed. After a while I found Martin’s Corner on the Web and his 3 relay board. I managed to use most of the code and strip out the bits that I didn’t need to use as the core of IoTBox.

The next issue was how to finish the firmware in time. I had been a fan of Peter Scargill’s technical blog and found that Richard Burton had written a great bootloader and OTA mechanism. He helped me tremendously in getting it all to work.

So with the basics in place, I could start coding the firmware. I managed to get an IDE working and managed to acquire a basic understanding of Github/BitBucket. This has been very useful and well worth the effort.

I then built a couple of test systems on breadboard to see how it would work.

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an IoTBox on a breadboard

Then began a search for a box. This was one of the hardest areas for the project. I wanted to make the IoTBox look attractive but all of the boxes had issues.

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An early prototype. Battery and USB powered

Originally I wanted it to be totally wireless with a built in battery or LiPo rechargeable but this made the cases bulky. Eventually I found a case (by luck) from RS Components that allowed me to mount the ESP 8266 on its board easily. Due to the way it was mounted, It allowed me to put the LED on the of the adapter which solved another issue = I didn’t want things sticking out of the unit if possible.

The reason I choose the case should be apparent from the following pictures.

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Showing display LED
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The board slides in – an exact fit!
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The final version


Next …. The parts list.

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