Metcalf Built the work of Ian Metcalf

I'm a software developer living with my family in Vermont with a passion for building things.

Talking to hardware with Node.js

As part of a project to gather heating data on my house and better control when the boiler and pumps operate I needed a way to talk to hardware. Specifically Dallas Onewire temperature sensors and IO modules. I had worked with these devices before using an Atmel AVR microcontroller and drivers I had written in C. This time though I wanted to leverage I higher level language so I decided to try using Node.js on a Rasperry PI.

The Onewire network consists of a single master device and multiple slave devices all connected to the same bus. Each slave has a unique rom assigned by the manufacturer. The master initiates communication and data is passed back and forth by holding the bus high or low during specific time windows. The need for exact timing means that the protocol requires low level support.

I have found that the easiest way to handle this is with a dedicated chip that takes care of the timing issues and communicates with a Raspberry PI over the much more common I2C protocol. Luckily someone has written a i2c module with native bindings that work on the Raspberry PI.

The first step was to create a base module that exposes an api for sending onewire commands via the bridge chip. Then to create a temperature module and IO module that handle the specific funtionallity of the corresponding slave devices.

With the drivers complete and working I am able to poll the temperature sensors and control the IO pins. The next step will be to create an application that uses the data to better control the boiler and pumps.