I grew up in the 1970s, fascinated with Erector sets, which is why I read with interest about an IoT project building app from myDevices called Cayenne. Tinkerers can use Cayenne to build projects that interface with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors and actuators. I'll admit that a DIY project like this seems daunting, but the app is intended to reduce the complexity of building IoT solutions.
The app is available for for iOS and Android, and works in conjunction with the Raspbian Operating System, which runs on the Raspberry Pi. Getting your Pi connected to the internet and up and running with Cayenne only takes a few minutes. The screenshot below sums up the no-coding-required process.
After the agent is installed, Cayenne can continue to access it through a mobile app or web browser.
Here's what the dashboard of the mobile app looks like after a Raspberry Pi has been linked and a project has been created:
Cayenne works by automatically configuring actuators, extensions and sensors from the library and can respond to events such as threshold alerts and sensor activity by applying a rule engine and triggers when specific actions or situations occur. These triggers can be configured from the main dashboard as shown above.
Cayenne lets you add actuators, extensions, and sensors with ease. Here is an example of items from the myDevices library:
Here is a sample screen showing the triggers which can be applied by dragging and dropping:
In the screenshot you can see a fan and lamp, among other things, are hooked up to the Raspberry Pi. If the fan turns on, a text message is sent to a designated recipient. If the natural light in the environment becomes dim, the lamp switches on. If an LED turns on, a notification is generated. And if the brightness in the environment reaches a specific threshold of 500, the fan switches on.
Let's take a look at the setup for that first trigger:
This is a very simple response instruction set. The second trigger is just as easy. In the example below, we can see the threshold at which the lamp will switch on.
The "GPIO" icon on the Dashboard is worth examining closer. GPIO stands for "General Purpose Input/Output" - in essence, this shows the status of the hardware components of the Pi.
The "Schedule" icon allows you to configure settings or actions which are to take place on certain dates/times.
And the "Settings" icon allows you to implement further configuration controls upon the Pi:
There are other elements such as Widgets that you can set up to customize your display and the data that appears on it:
The Dashboard appears more elaborate in the browser-based version:
The same type of functionality appears here, it's just that you can see more detail thanks to the larger screen size. This can be especially advantageous for looking at historical graphs, such as this Luminosity sensor:
Cayenne is free for developers, but there are plans in the works to offer a paid enterprise version that provides a path for commercialization and includes professional services.
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Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.