Smart Power Strip v.1

Custom build a power controller to fit a specific need.

Safely reboot three computers from hundreds of miles away or autonomously.

Our problem was, we were using two Mac MInis and an old Blue & White G3 Tower for energy management and security monitoring. Yes, once in a blue moon we have issues. Generally it was because our ISP uses dynamic IP, meaning once a month our IP number changed and threw a monkey into the works.  Each of the computers monitors the status of the other two. If there is ever a problem with a computer another computer attempts to restart the problem system. After sending a email. However, if there is a network or hardware issue, such as Kernel Panic, sending a restart command generally doesn't work. Our setup works pretty much 80% of the time. The overall system works fine for months on end with one, even two computers down.

There are network power controllers on the market and they do not cost much, but we were looking for something that worked within the system we already had and could be expanded on. We decided to purchase off the shelf parts (Radio Shack & eBay (mostly from China}) and make it as simple as possible.

Here is a brief synopsis of what we tried:

X-10 - Only supports one controller per 'household'. Meaning if all three computers had controllers only one would talk directly to the controller. Even attempted to used Indigo networked. If the Master computer locked up, the whole system was dead. Plus the system was prone to problems caused by errors in communications over power lines and line noise. It worked, but for weeks at a time not the months we were looking for.

Arduino with eithernet - We had high hopes for this option but due to support for only limited connections and network 'lockups'. This system worked, for days but never weeks. It would require a hard reset then start working again.

Arduino with WIFI - No luck at all, never found our network. Lack of documentation we didn't get past testing due to an unwillingness to work out bugs.

Arduino with XBee - Now this system works! And we can expand on it using XBee's PAN network. 

PARTS (Sources: eBay, SparkFun, Seeed Studio, Robot Cart, Radio Shack):
    * Dead UPS, and old APC with room inside for the Arduino
    * XBee low watts was fine, our systems are all located in the same room
    * Screw terminal shield - XBee Shield, 
          3 - XBee Explorers and 4 XBee 1mw Chips.
    * 3 Relay control boards from Robot Cart
          (depending on your dead UPS case you could use more (or less) check design before you begin.)

We're also going to be added plans & links to build your Relay Control Boards.




 Copyrighted 2009 Mac Ramblins