What started out as a joke turned into a reality. Last year I lived in the dorms, and our room had an uncontrolled furnace. The room was around 26 to 28 degrees celsius at all times, so I thought I would do something about it. The idea was to take the cold winter air from outside and distribute it into two separate rooms automatically, driven by temperature sensors. But we had to do it cheap, so we used cardboard for the ventilation shafts and hot glued it to the ceiling. This is probably what attracted a lot of attention, for this sketchy yet functional build.
This project sparked my interest in electronics. I want to be able to solve any future problems I encounter with my knowledge of electronics and computer software. This was just the beginning.
Arduino makes it very easy to program microcontrollers
with basic knowledge of the C language.
I tested out each component individually, starting with the display, mosfets, switches, and fans. Once I was confident in the operation of each component I put it all together on one breadboard. The circuit build itself was quite simple and took only a few hours. I did brake some parts however, and had to wait for new ones to ship.
The real challenge was figuring out how to implement the electronics in our environment. Bare wires were duct taped to the walls for fan control and temperature readings. Fans were also duct taped into a cardboard frame, then taped into appropriate ventilation shafts.
There was also some strange noise interference on the temperature sensors. Occasionally dropping from 20C to -40C. The noise is most likely created from the bare wires which span about 8 feet to the temperature sensor, and interference on the breadboard. Given that I currently could not solve the problem in hardware, I wrote a function that gets 8 temperature readings (ticks) over 4 seconds, calculates the average, and discards any values which offset the average by 5 Celsius. After approximately 8 seconds the temperature reading appeared very accurate, and was enough to continue our build.
Surprisingly, the computer fans were able to keep both rooms at a steady 20 Celsius. I was not sure if the airflow was enough to combat the heater, but it appears so. You can control the “set temperature” with the four switches on the breadboard if you would like to make changes. Although this project was quite simple, it really got me thinking just how many problems I may be able to solve in the real world, with electronics and software. There seems to be no real limit. This was my first project with an Arduino, and my first experience making a functional circuit driven by a microcontroller to solve a real life problem. Looking forward to more advanced projects in the future!