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Smart Thermostat


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This is a project I implemented myself circa 1975. It consisted of two conventional furnace thermostats, a 555 timer, a capacitor, a relay and some cheap burglar alarms. One thermostat was set on normal heat and one on reduced heat. If the burglar alarms had not triggered for a while, it flipped to the reduced heat thermostat. When one alarm triggered, it flipped back to the normal heat thermostat. The net result was the system turned down the heat if people went out or went to sleep. It did not require programming in a fixed schedule. My household was too chaotic for that. The thing cut my gas bill on my four bedroom house in half. I unsuccessfully tried to give the idea away to the world supposedly suffering an energy crunch.

Your job is to produce the same effect more cheaply, and more tidily, without having to use any conventional thermostats. You would just use an Arduino or Raspberry π with a temperature sensor module. Burglar alarms are basically switches that close when triggered, so interfacing them is trivial.

Raspberry π

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