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Cal Spa Connector

In The Internet of Spas, I briefly explained how commodity IoT hardware could be used to connect a (dumb) spa to the Internet, using the empty RJ-45 port found on most Balboa spa controllers.

At that time, I only had the opportunity to connect the port to a logic analyzer to see the kind of messages the controller was sending. In a way, I could understand the current status of the spa but not control it remotely. In this post, I will document the complete interface and how you can control the various features similar to the Top Side display interface.

It all starts with the RJ-45 connector and what the various pins are connected to: Continue reading "Cal Spa Connector"

The Internet of Spas

Somewhere in my yard, there is an appliance which is not connected to the Internet... yet. Last summer, after a power outage, I realized the pumps were not working. The heater was running, but without water circulating the spa went quickly in Overheat mode, throwing errors on the top display. As it was summer and being a lot outside, I had plenty of time to notice the issue and not worry about freezing conditions.

Being out of warranty, I decided to cut the power to the spa and open the control box. This is where I discovered a Cal Spa CS6200DV branded Balboa circuit board, with SSID 100 66 45. Going through standard components, I noticed a blown out 30A fuse that was feeding the pumps. Replaced the fuse, powered back the spa, everything worked for a total of 2,95$.

Wondering how I could have remotely caught this issue, I started searching the web for a WiFi remote or RF option to the spa. While I noticed a WiFi Balboa bridge, it didn't seem to fit my need or even be compatible. It also needed a paid cloud membership and was well overpriced.
Continue reading "The Internet of Spas"

Honey, where are my amps?

Honey, where are my amps?
I have been using the great ESP-01 for a while now, either as a side WiFi chip for software running on various Atmel AVR chips (ATmega328, ATtiny84, ATtiny85) or as a standalone micro controller. While what you can do with an ESP8266 is impressive, it also has its drawbacks: it uses a lot of power.

If you are using batteries to power your project, you need to make sure you can sleep the WiFi chip most of the time or use a different less power hungry radio, like the various RFM69 chips. However, using something different than WiFi also means you need some kind of receiver.

If you are building gadgets for IoT, you will eventually need a way to connect to the Internet. Having WiFi directly on the gadget saves an extra step.

How much power is the ESP really consuming? Continue reading "Honey, where are my amps?"