Modded pressure gauge displays your Internet usage in Mb/s


Building ​Ed Konowal's Raspberry Pi-based Internet Pressure Gauge (as seen at SIGGRAPH 2014!) costs about $425 in parts ($100 for the vintage gauge on Ebay, including metal-shop time for the refurb), or you can support the kickstarter for his kit, which gets you everything except the gauge for $310 (for $500 he'll build you one, but you still have to supply the gauge).

Internet usage is typically measured in Mb/s (Megabits per second) and dispalyed as a graph on a monitor or smartphone. In this project I've taken the same data and translated it to a real world gauge. A steam pressure gauge from the early 20th century.

Data is collected by polling an Internet router, in this case the router for the Vancouver Convention Center. The data is converted to a 0-200 scale to match the steps on the pressure gauge. Next the data is sent to a microcontroller which moves a servo to the appropriate postion. The servo is connected to the needle of the pressure gauge.

While this seems relatively straight forward, it required a lot of trial and error and adjustments to get accurate physical movement that matched the Internet usage data.

The most interesting thing in this entire project was the realization that Interenet usage statistics are usually averaged over a longer period of time. The Internet Steam Gauge checks utilizaiton every 10 seconds and is therefore more accurate than most monitoring systems.

A pressure gauge to display Internet usage

(via Beyond the Beyond)

Notable Replies

  1. What was that quip from Robin Williams? "It's God's way of telling you that you're making too much money." While he was referring to cocaine it probably applies to this as well.

    I'll grant you though that this is definitely a wonderful thing for happy mutants, and I thank you for that. smiley

  2. I'm going to need a smaller gauge.

  3. VU meters are between the cheapest meters available on the market. They can be reused for measuring both voltage and current, this way:
    http://shaddack.twibright.com/projects/method_VUmeterReuse/

    A microcontroller can be used for outputting analog voltage by the way of PWM. This can drive the meter directly (select the series resistor for full deflection at 5V, which corresponds to 100% duty cycle). An ATmega88/168/328 has 6 PWM outputs. It can also drive a display (LCD, graphics or text, or OLED, or whatever you please) and these outputs can be combined for interesting dashboards.

    Another idea for displaying of data volumes (or other monotonously increasing or decreasing value) could be using water. Use a needle valve and a pressure sensor, for sensing hydrostatic pressure (corresponding to water column height) at the bottom of the container, control the valve to make the pressure correspond to the variable the water amount should track. A peristaltic pump can be also used, for moving fluid between two or more containers (display ones plus storage); this limits the water amount available for spillages in case of a mishap.

    Edit: Read the kickstarter. Got a thought. What about using the Raspi board as a router itself? Use onboard Ethernet as one side, USB Ethernet dongle as the other? (Two or more USB dongles can be used for implementing DMZ or using two or more ISPs for redundancy.) Then the data are available for the router itself, and even some signature detection (Snort?) with corresponding alerts. Video/HDMI output then can be used for visualisation of the traffic and threats.

  4. Sometimes I think an ohmmeter would be more representative.

  5. Heh. :slight_smile:

    Now I'm thinking that I need something like this:

    to show how much mine sucks.

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