05 Thingspeak

AirPI - and the internet of things (IoT)

IoT - What the ...?

(Much of this section was borrowed from http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/845538/An-Introduction-to-ThingSpeak .... go on check it out)

Imagine a world where things (not just computers) are connected in a giant network. Well such a thing actually exists!

The Internet of Things(IoT) is a system of ‘connected things’. In our case the things that are connected are raspberryPI air quality monitors. 

IOT things generally comprise of an embedded operating system and an ability to communicate with the internet or with the neighboring things.  In the airPI the operating system is Raspian (a Linux version) and we connect them together using the internet (by wifi or cable).

But what to this things connect to, one ant by itself cannot do anything a hundred million can build a cathedral (thanks Bull Durham) One of the key elements of any IoT system that bridges the various ‘things’ is an IoT service.  At a bare minimum, the things in our IoT network should have an ability to connect to other ‘things’ and share some data.

The real power of IoT comes  when the things are tied  to a ‘service’ either directly or via other ‘things’. In such systems, the service plays the role of an invisible manager by providing capabilities ranging from simple data collection and monitoring to complex data analytics. The below diagram illustrates where an IoT service fits in an IoT ecosystem:

The IoT service allows for Synergy. That is something that is more than all of it's bits added together. Again in our case one air quality monitor is ok but not much good for detecting the zombie apocalypse coming towards you. A network of 5 is better a network of 25 or 50 is best!

The IoT Service

Ok so what IoT service are we going to use to tie these sensors together?  ThingSpeak   is a platform providing various services exclusively targeted for
building IoT applications. It offers the capabilities of real-time data collection, visualizing the collected data in the form of charts, ability to create plugins and apps for collaborating with web services, social network and other APIs. We will consider each of these features in detail below.
Best of all it is free!

The core element of ThingSpeak is a ‘ThingSpeak Channel’. A channel stores the data that we send to ThingSpeak and comprises of the below elements:

8 fields for storing data the airPi records - These will be used to store the data from a        sensor or from an embedded device.
3 location fields - Can be used to store the latitude, longitude and the elevation. These are very useful for tracking a moving device.
1 status field - A short message to describe the data stored in the channel.

To use ThingSpeak, we need to signup and create a channel. Once we have a channel, we can send the data, allow ThingSpeak to process it and also retrieve the same. Let us start exploring ThingSpeak by signing up and setting up a channel. 

For this competition we have already set up 2 channels for you to use. The first channel is for your actual measured data the second for any calculated data. Remember this is the INTENET of THINGS so you will need to set up YOUR airPI to talk to the channel we have set up. Your channel details are on the sheet in your Thingspeak kit.

If you want you can create your own account and channel BUT you must make it public and tag it with; 

                                dow, spotlight16, airpi, zombie detector

The Channel Setup

The default Thingspeak channel set up is for this project is - 

If you use the default setup you do not need to change anything at all. Just go for it. If you set up your own channel please follow this template. It makes it easier for every one.  You need to make the channel public.

Here you see your 2 Channels. You also see a write key and a read key for each of your channels.



When configuring your AirPI use the Channel 1 Write API key. For advanced users you can write to Channel 2 using the write key for Channel 2.

Remember USE the KEY for YOUR airPI NOT this one.

Now on to configuration of the airPI.