Currently I’m working on a project communicating and transmitting signals over the air with an 433 MHz radio module called “rfm12“, produced by HopeRF, soldered onto devices capable of running OpenWrt and having at least 3 accessible GPIO’s.
Short story long:
These radio modules are capable of sending / receiving over the ISM frequency band, as e.g. 433 MHz or 868 MHz and just cost about 5 Euros.
The idea was to get the module working on several embedded boards running Linux, e.g. routers, microcomputers such as the NanoNote, etc. via a generic software interface.
The rfm12 module is controlled via the 4-wire protocol SPI which basically is based on toggling pins between the machine’s logic-levels (high/low) at an individual non-specified clock-speed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_Peripheral_Interface_Bus).
Since most of mentioned boards do not own a native SPI bus, but several GPIO’s (most LED’s are connected via GPIO’s on such devices), SPI can be “emulated” by toggling these GPIO’s in a specific way (also called “bitbanging“).
That way there’s no need for any other electronic peripherals such as microcontrollers, semiconductors, resistors, etc. – the chip is directly connected with the board – everything is done in software.
Inspired by the project “ethersex” – a project programming and maintaining a software for Atmel AVR micro-controllers used for home- / building automation – and an approach of soldering the module onto a specific router, communicating via SPI over GPIO’s (however used code is rather old, unmaintained and board-specific) – the idea came up to write a generic linux kernel module to support the module from within linux directly.
Based on the ideas realised with the ethersex project, I decided to aim my project on being able to switch remote controlled power sockets of which I own several (to each other incompatible) modules.
Because the rfm12 module is (only) capable of doing FM (modulating payload data on top of the frequency), but lot’s of devices are controlled via AM (most remote controlled power sockets included), we emulate AM by simply turning the module on and off in a specific sequence.
Since this operation is timing critical and needs to be atomic, we need to do basic stuff in the kernel space rather than from userspace.
The whole project is going to consist of 4 major parts:
- the rfm12 driver as kernel module which provides an API (accessible via a character device) to the userspace
- an userspace library which contains all the information and protocol (meta)data for such remote controllable devices, providing an (more or less) generic interface and configuration of devices
- an actual application using the library, so controlling the devices – maybe exporting the available functions via RPC (json, xml, etc.) to provide network access
- a remote usable UI (for mobile devices as phones (android/meego), web-related, qt/gtk…)
My testing device is an old Netgear WGT634U I had in spare which has a broadcom 47xx SoC working in and 4 unused GPIO’s available.
Implemented yet is support for the most common radio controlled sockets sold – the ones which have a 2272/2262 IC built in (including these Chinese versions which get on fire – http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/create_rapex.cfm?rx_id=142 #25) and the ones using an P801B chip.
I also have a set of radio controlled dimmers which protocol I’m going to implement soon…
For now the source code is hosted on github: https://github.com/mirko/rfm12-ASK-for-linux – there’s no project site yet but will be created if the project is growing / interest is getting raised 🙂
UPDATE: In case you’re willing to participate, you’re more than welcome! Just drop me an email… There’s lot’s of stuff I’d like to see implemented, especially usable (G)UI’s… but for sure it’s not just about me: patches, feedback, enhancements and feature-requests (in a certain extent) are highly appreciated!