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ioBridge Breast Milk / Freezer Monitor

My first ioBridge project is a freezer monitor.  It’s fairly simple but quite valuable.

Here’s the background:

My wife and I recently added our first child into the world and decided to breast feed.  With breast feeding comes pumping and storing breast milk for later use for the baby.  My wife refers to our stored milk as “liquid gold”, it’s a major time and convenience  commitment to do it properly.  As with any milk, breast milk has a short shelf life so freezing is necessary.

We also live in an area where a lot of the power that comes to our house comes in through above ground lines, so when there is inclement weather we are at risk of short to long power outages.   The freezer is inherited from my parents.  I don’t know exactly how old it is, but it’s running!  I’m sure its days are numbered.

So all of this leaves us in a constant state of worry about our freezer storing this precious commodity.   Is there power at the house?  Is our freezer dead?  IS THE MILK OK?

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The old phrase “crying over spilled milk”  has never made as much sense as it does now.

Basic Needs:

  1. Know the real-time temperature of our freezer
  2. Alert us if temperatures are too warm
  3. Know the state of power at our home
  4. Alert us if power is out
Tools:
  1. ioBridge IO-204
  2. ioBridge Temp Sensor
  3. EDIMAX WIFI nano router
  4. ioBridge “Actions”
  5. a web page
  6. ioBridge API
  7. site24x7 monitoring

How it was done:

Step 1 – Setting up the the sensor:  I took my ioBridge and hooked it up to the temperature sensor.  Using their easy to follow tutorial to set up a remote temperature monitoring display, I now have my sensor and communication device.

Step 2 – Getting a network connection near the freezer:  The first problem was that my network connection is no where near my freezer.   I debated running a CAT5 line down there but it was more trouble than it was worth.  My next thought was one of those network through your internal power lines, but from what I read they didn’t always work so well and I wasn’t about to spend $100 on it.  Then I thought I could use my spare router and create a access point in the basement.

I was about to do it, but then I discovered the world of nano routers.  (I’m really not sure there is a world of them)  I found a great deal on this little jobby EDIMAX WIFI nano router for $19.99 shipped.  It fit my need perfectly, so I ordered it.

Step 3 – Setting up the router:  A NewEgg user named “PRIORITY” (also the site that had the great deal) wrote out an awesome set of directions for the router.  It’s in the reviews on the last page (2nd review overall).  I am adding it here so you don’t have to dig for it.  (slightly altered for the ioBridge)

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1) Set PC’s NIC to DHCP or set IP above 192.168.2.1.
2) Connect to 192.168.2.1 in a web browser.
3) General Setup Tab –> Wireless menu.
4) Set Mode to Station Infrastructure.
5) Enter SSID of your AP or Select Site Survey (click refresh, select AP, done).
6) To insure changes are saved, click Apply and on the next page, click Continue (do NOT click Apply).
7) General Setup Tab –> Wireless menu –> Security Settings.
8) Enter settings to match your AP’s wireless security.
9) click Apply. Then click Continue (do not click Apply).
10) General Setup Tab –> LAN menu.
11) Change the LAN IP address to an unused address in your AP’s LAN subnet but not in the DHCP range.
12) Set DHCP Server to “disabled”.
13) click Apply and then Continue (do not click Apply).
14) General Setup Tab –> NAT menu –> click Static Routing. Click Enable Static Routing.
15) click Apply and Apply (this time you click Apply).
16) While device reboots, plug in your ioBridge to the router.
17) JENGA!!!

Step 4 – Setting up Temperature Alerts: First I only wanted to know if the freezer temperature was getting to high.  This would tell me if my freezer was dying and if the precious liquid gold was in danger.  I used ioBridge’s “actions” to help me setup when I should be alerted and the specific temperature points.

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Step 5 – Knowing when I am offline:  One of the only problems I had left was, what happens when I don’t have power at my home.  First, I won’t get any alerts because the ioBridge and routers have no power.  No matter how hard my little ioBridge works, he just can’t jump over that lack of power hurdle.  (I know!  Pretty lame, right?)  Unfortunately at the time of this project there is no alert system to tell me when my ioBridge is down so I had to cook one up myself.

Using my web page, a little bit of coding, the ioBridge API and site24x7 I rigged up a little system to alert me when my ioBridge was down.  When I get this message it can be one of the following.  1)ioBridge is dead 2) No internet to my home 3) power is out at my home

In any case it is something for me to take notice of and be worried about the milk and can go on to the “Breast Milk Contingency Plan” (not likely to be in another post)

Bonus!!! – Since I had to setup a web page anyway for site24x7 to pick up on.  I thought I may as well use some of the other ioBridge widgets to create a dashboard.  (my wife loves this one)  http://dev.kmapsystems.com/iobridgecheck.aspx

You may see some odd spikes in temperature.  It doesn’t hit the alert threshold, but I am concerned.  This freezer may die any day, if those spikes are a sign of the compressor going… Either way, I’ll know right away!

About Joshua Ho

4 comments for “ioBridge Breast Milk / Freezer Monitor

  1. October 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Could those temperature spikes correlate with opening the freezer? Makes sense to me…

    • October 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      No, we really don’t go in there THAT often or at even intervals. Unless some basement trolls are on a cadence of some sort.

  2. Chris Martin
    August 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks, I am looking to do the exact same thing and found your blog very helpful. Did you consider using the IO-201 Wi-Fi Web Gateway instead of the IO-204 that you then had to add wifi to? That is the option that I am leaing toward and am curious if there is a reason you opted not to go that route.

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