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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wondering if anyone has set up a hives monitoring station from http://hivetool.org

The site makes it sound simple enough. Get the hardware from http://hivetool.org/hardware, plug in the software from http://hivetool.org/software and you are good to go. Not so much from my perspective.

I got all the recommended hardware (the Adam Equipment CPWplus200 scale, the TEMPer2 USB thermometer, and a RaspberryPi computer). Plug it all up, type in the software, and nothing. Ends up the scale needs to have the settings changed (didn't know it had settings), of which the website doesn't appear to indicate anywhere, still can't get it to work right. Granted, I'm not a computer software person, but I thought it would be easier than that.

Hivetool.net has a forums section, but you can't get a login anywhere to get into post a question. It appears that at least 20 of them have been built, at least 13 with a Pi, so you would think it wouldn't be that hard to get it going.

Just wondering if anyone has had success doing this that could walk me through what they did. Thanks.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Hi,

I'm glad you mentioned this, I was checking into trying this myself, figured somebody had already tried it. I would be very interested in this project. I see the main one is Pella Iowa. One big tulip festival there!
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

I am very interested in the same type of monitoring system, I was getting hung up on programming load cells. I like the scale you bought

Hopefully more will chime in

Sorry I'm not much help with programming I work more on the hardware side.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

If you look thru the list of hardware in use there, the My Weigh HD300 attached to the WRT160NL is my setup. I'm doing it slightly different than the folks at hivetool, because I have the gear to do it this way. I have an embedded linux load running on the wrt which is out at the hive, kitted out with a serial-usb to hook up to the scale, with the wifi running as a client on the house network rather than as an access point. Scripts on there pick up the weight once every 5 minutes, and send that into the house over the wifi link, where it goes into a mysql database on a server in the closet. I've got another setup collecting weather data, which also has a totally unrelated gadget attached, an all-sky camera in use for my astronomy hobby addiction.

The first year I ran it, I bumped into a bunch of physical problems with the setup, which caused the scale to reset regularily. The scale itself is considerably smaller than the bottom board of a hive, and in strong winds the hive would sway considerable, eventually the scale would reset from the swaying. I also had another problem, eventually tracked down to a defective power cord which also caused a considerable number of resets.

We moved last summer, and all the setup has changed considerably now. I've got the hives in a fairly sheltered spot, so wind wont be a problem anymore, and I've fixed one bottom board with a few slats to be a good fit on the scale. It's not running right now, but one of the to-do items for next weekend will be to get the scale back under a hive and start logging data again. I bought the scale specifically for this project, got this one instead of the CWPlus everybody else uses, because it was available from a Canadian supplier, saves a lot on shipping and customs. The rest is all stuff I had kicking around from other projects already.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

I'm doing something like it, but my approach would probably be a turnoff for anyone who isn't an electronics nut.

Well, shucks, the ULI data acquisition system would have been good. I was just discussing designing my own with a friend who does this sort of thing. There are lots of single-channel dataloggers in this world. There are a couple of 4-channel ones like HOBO. I bought an 8-channel a couple of years ago for under $300 but it turned out to be useless junk. Arduino (like Rasberry Pi) has a few analog channels but they're only 10-bit, which is rather marginal. My UEIDAQ logger can go to 96 channels but it is too expensive for most people.

I can make a bee scale from a $21 Walmart digital bathroom scale, but the electronics are not something most of you would want to tackle. If my friend and I can get something engineered, maybe it can be made available either for a system he's designing or for Arduino hardware (very popular and inexpensive). I see a problem with many of those scales. Most of them want to be zeroed when they turn on. That feature will need to be defeated and they'll need either good temperature stability or good temperature compensation to work outdoors with a load continuously on them.

Taking apart a bathroom scale, all you want is the load sensing feet. On Health-O-Meters and some other brands these are discrete little pucks you can install under your bottom board, giving the correct support for a hive. The scales are 330 lbs and the feet should be able to take somewhat more than that without damage, if loaded evenly. That would fix a problem grozzie2 saw, but probably introduce several others (like needing to build the electronics).
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Grozzie2,

All-sky camera, eh? Sounds like fun. I've got a photovoltaic pyranometer, and am building a thermopile pyranometer, to integrate with a weather system for my system, but a camera would be a cool addition for cloud sensing. For sensing clouds after dark, I like using my thermal imager, but Forrest Mims has a cheaper option using the guts of one of those non-contact infrared thermometers. It was developed specifically to detect clear skies for astronomy.

There was mention on the links above of using a microphone. I plan to stick one in each hive, and try a little apidiction. FFT software to pick out the frequency peaks is easy now, but it would be way cool if this could run automated.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

and they'll need either good temperature stability or good temperature compensation to work outdoors with a load continuously on them.
I solved this problem by building up temp compensation parameters. Shortly after I got the scale, I left a known fixed weight on it for 3 weeks, then did another 3 weeks with a much heavier weight. I logged temperature and weight on 5 minute intervals over those periods. From that, I got a pretty good set of correction factors.

BUT, in reality, it turns out that what I'm most interested in, is not an exact weight, just how much it's changing over time. So, if things wander a bit due to temperature is not a big deal. If the reading goes up by 10lb in a day, do I really care about the difference between 10.00 and 10.17 (temp corrected data). No, not really. Different story if you are gathering data to forward on to larger scale research projects like honeybeenet etc, but for my own use, I'm quite happy without temp corrections.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Grozzie2,

All-sky camera, eh? Sounds like fun.
It is fun. Mine is astronomy oriented, and actually to sensative to use for daytime, the sensor reaches full saturation on exposure times less than the shortest I can do with it. But for meteor detection, it's the cats meow. Glueing a full night of frames together ends up with this.

http://youtu.be/9-FL_brgZ6M

That particular video is 15 second exposures, but the youtube encoding essentially destroys the true quality of each frame.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Exactly what I intend to do. I like your approach. I need to try these while it is still cold. Time to stop putting it off. Now, where did I put those strain gage conditioner amplifiers?
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

It is fun. Mine is astronomy oriented, and actually to sensative to use for daytime, the sensor reaches full saturation on exposure times less than the shortest I can do with it. But for meteor detection, it's the cats meow. Glueing a full night of frames together ends up with this.

http://youtu.be/9-FL_brgZ6M

That particular video is 15 second exposures, but the youtube encoding essentially destroys the true quality of each frame.
Kewl. I've done some time-lapse with a DSLR piggybacked on an 8" Celestron, but that wide-angle lens does spectacular work. My 18-55 zoom can't do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Just for the record, the majority of what's been put in this thread is over my head :D But I appreciate the efforts to let me know of your own endeavors.

The hardest part I'm having right now is getting the hive scale to actually talk to the Pi (or my computer, for that matter). Once I get there, the rest of it should be a simple programming matter (at least I hope). The website makes it sound very simple, with just two lines of code to get the scale to return a value. It doesn't say anything about changing settings on the scale, or having difficulty getting it to communicate with the computer. The settings aren't default on the scale, so they had to change the scale's settings. Seems a little odd.

Anyone who's actually used the Adam Equipment CPWplus200 scale, and can give me some thoughts on connecting it using the 232 connector, would be greatly appreciated.

Other than that, I'll keep everyone updated on the progress (once it happens).
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Just for the record, the majority of what's been put in this thread is over my head :D But I appreciate the efforts to let me know of your own endeavors.

The hardest part I'm having right now is getting the hive scale to actually talk to the Pi (or my computer, for that matter). Once I get there, the rest of it should be a simple programming matter (at least I hope). The website makes it sound very simple, with just two lines of code to get the scale to return a value. It doesn't say anything about changing settings on the scale, or having difficulty getting it to communicate with the computer. The settings aren't default on the scale, so they had to change the scale's settings. Seems a little odd.

Anyone who's actually used the Adam Equipment CPWplus200 scale, and can give me some thoughts on connecting it using the 232 connector, would be greatly appreciated.

Other than that, I'll keep everyone updated on the progress (once it happens).
I have not used that scale, but I've used RS-232 to talk to similar devices. For such a simple interface, there are about a thousand ways to mess it up and one way to get it right. Plus, Microsoft built a moat around their port structure years ago ... what had been simple suddenly became an ordeal, wandering thru the guts of an operating system akin to a haunted forest.

If nobody else who knows the scale offers, ping me on PM and I'll see if I can do some remote troubleshooting.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Is it a serial/USB connection? You need to get a key wedge for the scale to talk to the computer, about $40 for a software wedge or if the comp runs mobile windows there's a free one. You need to configure the port with scale to match parity and baud rates as well
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

If nobody else who knows the scale offers, ping me on PM and I'll see if I can do some remote troubleshooting.
Thanks for the offer. Hopefully someone will know what needs to be done. If not, I'll be PMing you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Is it a serial/USB connection?
The scale has an RS-232 output, and I got an RS-232 to USB Adaptor to hook up to the USB port of the Pi/my computer.

You need to get a key wedge for the scale to talk to the computer, about $40 for a software wedge or if the comp runs mobile windows there's a free one.
And . . . . you lost me. What's a key wedge?

You need to configure the port with scale to match parity and baud rates as well
Been working on that. As far as I can tell, it's 8 bits no parity with 9600 baud, which is what I think is right. But there's about 3 other settings to the scale that I don't know what they are, or what they do. All in all there are probably about 600 combinations of settings (between parity, baud rates, hold functions, ect.). As was said before, all I need to do is find the right one.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Yeah, you got it. Plus several connector standards, flipped vs unflipped cables, handshaking lines, and a couple of settings on your computer put there just for added confusion. Welcome to RS-232. But it generally will work eventually if you don't go mad first.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

You just need to configure the port to match the scale or ask the manufacturer what the proper settings should be. The scale I use is set to 7 bits. You most likely need drivers for a virtual com port if you are using a USB adapter. The key wedge simulates keystrokes from the balance to the computer. Most people wont tell you or know that you need a key wedge to get data into excel etc... Unless you use mscomm and Vba to programmatically retrieve data. With a key wedge, just set the scale to auto print at whatever interval you like.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Have you tried connecting the scale directly to your computer (not the Pi) using a serial port? The computer should be able to at least detect it and/or try to communicate with it.
 

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Re: Creating a monitoring station from hivetool.org

Mine isn't the CWPlus, but, it has similar protocols. Default out of the box, it talks some form of binary protocol, but, by stepping thru a couple configuration options it was easy to put it in 'dumb' mode. Once in that mode, just send a carraige return to the scale, and it responds with a weight reading. 9600 baud, 8 data, no parity, no flow control. Most scales should have a setting that puts it into a similar mode.
 
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