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1Instructables972Views16CommentsJoined November 11th, 2017
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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    If anyone here needs to do this outside in *extreme* temperatures, it seems like the "US-100" sensor is a better choice (~$4). It has a built-in temperature sensor, and it auto-corrects for extreme temperatures.

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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    Take a look at this:http://resources.heatingoilexpress.com/fuel-oil/ho...It might be helpful in calculating the exact measurements with a direct formula.By the way, thanks to the extreme weather we have had recently, I've had the pleasure of testing the sensor down to some very low temperatures (~ -17-18C), and so far it seems to be accurate.

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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    UPDATE: 12/26/2017 (Dec. 26th 2017) - I have made significant changes and updates to the photon code and "table" implementation to work with the 275 gallon VERTICAL tanks (which are "normal/standard" oil tanks used in the United States). I have also changed the interval and "zones" for the alerts so that they are more practical. If you have created this project, please just pull the new code and re-flash your photon. You will notice very granule gallon detection/ranges along with some other improvements.

    Steve - pinging you directly because I have made a significant change to the code which I think you will need. Please take a look at the new one. This is the correct code for vertical oil tanks -- which appear to be the standard. The previous is for the horizontal tanks. Also, I have changed the alerts/levels so that they are much more practical.

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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    To be honest - I have not had to deal with crazy cold temperatures yet when using the sensor. I would assume there is some standard of calibration based on degrees above/bellow a certain point. I did find this which seems to talk about exactly that: https://www.instructables.com/id/Temperature-Compe... and also this: http://la3za.blogspot.com/2014/05/temperature-comp...Per the 2nd link, it seems like the base library (formula) is good for +/-30 C. I would assume that should be good enough for cold...it's probably heat that's the problem. The 2nd link also has the author's code on the bottom that deals with the temperature.Funny - the panels you chose is what I had decided on from amazon before I found the no-name ones I ended up with (and yes - they really are 10W...it's crazy for that ...

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    To be honest - I have not had to deal with crazy cold temperatures yet when using the sensor. I would assume there is some standard of calibration based on degrees above/bellow a certain point. I did find this which seems to talk about exactly that: https://www.instructables.com/id/Temperature-Compe... and also this: http://la3za.blogspot.com/2014/05/temperature-comp...Per the 2nd link, it seems like the base library (formula) is good for +/-30 C. I would assume that should be good enough for cold...it's probably heat that's the problem. The 2nd link also has the author's code on the bottom that deals with the temperature.Funny - the panels you chose is what I had decided on from amazon before I found the no-name ones I ended up with (and yes - they really are 10W...it's crazy for that price point). This is what happens when you don't get the middle man markup. The down side is that you don't get fancy charging ports, but it does have a micro USB attached and sealed, although you will probably have to re-seal whatever you connect into that port. Given the low power requirements behind this project, I think almost any panel will be fine. The bigger concern is lithium ion in low temperatures.I like the DS18B20s too - especially the nicely sealed ones, which seem ideal for water/snow/non-ideal conditions.

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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    Steve - yea I have. Actually the first time I started using the HC-SR04, after getting it to work quickly, the first real project was with a lipo battery.The HC-SR04 does need a 5V. I've tried with 3V and while it "sometimes works", it's not reliable.Take a look at the Particle Power shield -- this is by far the easiest and "everything you need" included one:https://www.amazon.com/Particle-PWRSHLD-Contains-C...(NOTE: it comes with a large lipo included which is nice, and it has some other nice benefits like multiple charge options, over charge, current protection, volt/amp meters, etc. There is one down side around disconnecting the battery physically for a while and trigger powering it back on when it's later connected after 2 hours -- but you won't run into that wi...

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    Steve - yea I have. Actually the first time I started using the HC-SR04, after getting it to work quickly, the first real project was with a lipo battery.The HC-SR04 does need a 5V. I've tried with 3V and while it "sometimes works", it's not reliable.Take a look at the Particle Power shield -- this is by far the easiest and "everything you need" included one:https://www.amazon.com/Particle-PWRSHLD-Contains-C...(NOTE: it comes with a large lipo included which is nice, and it has some other nice benefits like multiple charge options, over charge, current protection, volt/amp meters, etc. There is one down side around disconnecting the battery physically for a while and trigger powering it back on when it's later connected after 2 hours -- but you won't run into that with this project since you don't need to constantly disconnect/re-connect the battery...in fact, it will probably just stay connected)All you would do is attach the the external powered solar panels.I would recommend the Particle powershield because then you don't need a boost converter, you don't need any regulators, and you pretty much don't need anything else. "It just works". You need to be careful about which pins you use on the photon (I think the first couple end up being reserved for the power measure functionality), but past that, it's basically "plug and use".Alternatively, you can take a look at the sparkfun battery shield: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13626(NOTE: it does not come with a lipo, thus half the price, and it's much simpler, but roughly the same. It has a few less features, but it's smaller. Sparkfun also makes one for charging from solar panels, but that requires more parts and I don't recommend it for this)I have not played with the Sparkfun one but a lot of friends have said good things about it.For the solar panels, I did a lot of research, and at the end realized that I could spend ~$65-80/panel for "nicer brandname" ones, or I could get these (https://www.cafago.com/en/p-l1613.html- actually on sale for $14 right now) super thin "generic/no-brand name" which are IP65 rated water proof and paper thin. You can even easily chain two of them. Because they are so light, you can mount them with zip ties which is fantastic! I have 2 of these panels, and I am very happy with them.Because of the functionality of the oil tank, and because you don't actually need to monitor it often/in real time, you can put the photon and especially the wifi chip to sleep, and then you can get away with VERY little battery. If you wake it up 1-2 times a day, measure, connect online, send results (or just connect when bellow a threshold), you can go for 60-80 days easily on the lipo charge that comes with the photon powershield. Thus the solar panel will be more than enough. Take a look at this for more information: https://community.particle.io/t/sleep-mode-explai...Also, take a look at the official documentation for the sleep function:https://docs.particle.io/reference/firmware/photon... (search for "Backup RAM (SRAM)", and look at the chart right under that for the options/what they do)Something you will have to deal with is water sealing the components - but that's easy. You can sealant spray the whole thing or use rubber cement on the outside. I would use teflon tape ("plumber's tape") for all of the threaded/screw in components to create better seals and keep the rain/moisture out.At last - about the temperatures, you are more than ok. The particle photon is rated for: -40 C to +85 C, and the HC-SR04 is rated for: -15°C to 70°CYou can easily add a tiny temperature sensor. I would recommend this one: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13314 -- it's all self contained, and you don't have to add anything other than the headers you need. Alternatively, if you want something smaller/cheaper, you can get this: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13314 (but you need a resistor, and it needs to be soldered to the legs + it's harder to attach the photon in a removable fashion). I would stick with the #13314 personally.Good luck!

    Added the temp bit in the long response about using the battery/outdoors, but posting here for anyone else searching:You are more than ok. The particle photon is rated for: -40 C to +85 C, and the HC-SR04 is rated for: -15°C to 70°CThe photon does not have a temperature sensor that you can access, however you can easily add a tiny temperature sensor. I would recommend this one: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13314 -- it's all self contained, and you don't have to add anything other than the headers you need. Alternatively, if you want something smaller/cheaper, you can get this: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13314 (but you need a resistor, and it needs to be soldered to the legs + it's harder to attach the photon in a removable fashion). I would stick with the #13314 ...

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    Added the temp bit in the long response about using the battery/outdoors, but posting here for anyone else searching:You are more than ok. The particle photon is rated for: -40 C to +85 C, and the HC-SR04 is rated for: -15°C to 70°CThe photon does not have a temperature sensor that you can access, however you can easily add a tiny temperature sensor. I would recommend this one: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13314 -- it's all self contained, and you don't have to add anything other than the headers you need. Alternatively, if you want something smaller/cheaper, you can get this: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13314 (but you need a resistor, and it needs to be soldered to the legs + it's harder to attach the photon in a removable fashion). I would stick with the #13314 personally.For the water, pasting that bit :)Something you will have to deal with is water sealing the components - but that's easy. You can sealant spray the whole thing or use rubber cement on the outside. I would use teflon tape ("plumber's tape") for all of the threaded/screw in components to create better seals and keep the rain/moisture out.

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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    Steve - glad you found it useful.No problem - and you actually brought up a great point - I ended up rushing trying to get everything posted, and I did not do a good job providing details around the code/web hook/etc.I am going to add to the post step by step instructions on what to do with the photon in terms of pasting the code/building it/flashing it, and then how to add the webhooks/some more information around that.Give me a bit, i'll post the pictures here and some more information on my blog.

    Steve - replied on the blog post, but just adding the information here in case it's useful to others:Added two new sections:* What if you have never used a Particle Photon? Detailed Help on setup/code/flashing!and* What are these Web Hooks/Notifications – step by step instructionsThese should provide the much needed clarifications.At last – I have uploaded a bunch of new screenshots to go with with both sections (on the Instructables post) for the software side of the Photon and the Webhooks.Let me know if these help and especially if something could use some more clarifications.

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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    Just adding a comment here for anyone concerned about safety (and I updated the top of the post with this information):SAFETY INFORMATION: In case anyone wants to know if "this is safe to build/install" -- I have taken this to 2 different Oil companies for feedback/safety considerations, and I have run this by the fire department's Prevention Deputy Chief. Per all 3 - the device is considered completely safe with norisk of fire or explosion. That said, I cannot control your individual environment/what you do with it, so please assume your own risk when installing it. Per the oil companies - electric sparks/open flames will not ignite the oil, so there is no possibility of catching fire/explosion/etc. Nothing compresses/creates a vacuum/creates air pressure to cause an explosio...

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    Just adding a comment here for anyone concerned about safety (and I updated the top of the post with this information):SAFETY INFORMATION: In case anyone wants to know if "this is safe to build/install" -- I have taken this to 2 different Oil companies for feedback/safety considerations, and I have run this by the fire department's Prevention Deputy Chief. Per all 3 - the device is considered completely safe with norisk of fire or explosion. That said, I cannot control your individual environment/what you do with it, so please assume your own risk when installing it. Per the oil companies - electric sparks/open flames will not ignite the oil, so there is no possibility of catching fire/explosion/etc. Nothing compresses/creates a vacuum/creates air pressure to cause an explosion. My favorite quote was "even if you flick lit matches in your oil tank, it will not catch on fire."

    SAFETY INFORMATION: In case anyone wants to know if "this is safe to build/install" -- I have taken this to 2 different Oil companies for feedback/safety considerations, and I have run this by the fire department's Fire Prevention Deputy Chief. Per all 3 - the device is considered completely safewith norisk of fire or explosion. That said, I cannot control your individual environment/what you do with it, so please assume your own risk when installing it. Per the oil companies - electric sparks/open flames will not ignite the oil, so there is no possibility of catching fire/explosion/etc. Nothing compresses/creates a vacuum/creates air pressure to cause an explosion. My favorite quote was "even if you flick lit matches in your oil tank, it will not catch on fire."

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    • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting
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  • Monitor Heating Oil Tank Gallons With Email, SMS, and Pushbullet Alerting

    Hi Matthew,That's a great idea!I am going to give it a try on the next build and comment back on how it works. (I've been also meaning on adding pictures of the cables and a bit more around the Photon for people who have not used it).My reason for adding the gasket later was because I wanted the "inside" (top part) to be flipped up to really create a seal. But if you can wedge it, and cement both sides, that should be better technically.One other thing I've learned out of building a few of these now -- you really want to cover the bottom end 100% (everything except the ultrasonic "ears") in rubber cement and use more rather than less. This completely prevents the oil smell.

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