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Re-purposing the Current Cost bridge device

To open the CC bridge box remove three screws from the base (one under the sticker). Note at this point assume you have invalidated any warranty. Remove the board – it should look like this.

P9205871

Connectors (left to right), Power – 4.5-6V @ 500mA, Ethernet mag jack, Serial port (RJ10) pins left to right Rx,Tx,GND,3v3 – note the 3v3 is supplied via a 10 ohm resistor R11 (current limiter).

Bridge across jumper 1 to disable the Wiznet W5100 ethernet chip and using your favorite technique (I used a USBTiny from Adafruit) burn the Arduino bootloader onto the AVR. Note only power the board from one source – either 3v3 from the programming device or the on board power (leave the programmers power unconnected). There are several examples on the web of using an Arduino to program a bootloader – just be aware that signals will need to be 3v3. Note the board ID needs to be “Arduino Pro or Pro Mini (3.3V, 8 MHz) w/ ATmega328”

Once the bootloader is on the board it is possible to program it using the Arduino IDE.

I used a USB to TTL FTDI serial converter (a good one is from Sparkfun). Signal levels will be 3v3 so there is no issue there, just connect up GND, board RX to FTDI TX and board TX to FTDI RX. I cut up the cable supplied for this – Farnell supply suitable RJ10 plugs (as far as I can tell these match the dimensions of the supplied plug).

Note: there is no auto reset so you need to hit the reset button once the sketch has compiled – you may need to practice this several times before you get the timing right (I did). I pressed the button when the compiled size came up on the screen, counted to three and released it – seemed about the right time.

The first sketch I loaded is the example Ethernet server sketch. You need to make one simple alteration to this. Add the following lines at the beginning of the setup routine (as well as verify that the mac and IP address are OK for your system):

pinMode(7,OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(7,HIGH);

This code will enable the W5100 ethernet chip as Digital I/O 7 is connected directly to the W5100 reset line. This line is connected via a resistor to GND and so we need to pull it up to enable the device.

Once the sketch is loaded into the board you should be able to connect a RJ45 ethernet cable and access the page from your browser.

I also notice that the board contains pads for an I2C EEPROM chip – I don’t think mine will be vacant for long, I have a 128KByte FRAM chip that will fit nicely there..

A further improvement will be to add a Micro SD card interface, I will then have all the ingredients for a cheap web server to front end my home monitoring system.

11 comments to Re-purposing the Current Cost bridge device

  • This makes quite a neat ATmega328/W5100 package. How much do these CC Bridge devices cost?

    I wonder do tinkerlondon.com sell them directly?

  • tj

    John,
    Thanks for this i have a question given you seem to know your stuff. I want to redirect the bridge to send data received from the CC128 to my own web server. I think the CC bridge is essentially a reworked arduino???, so if I follow the steps above but change the script to send to a given ip address (ive seen examples in arduino forums on this) do you think that would work – is there an easy way? Much appreciate any advice.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi TJ

      Yes the bridge is essentially a reworked arduino.

      You can load up any Arduino code to accomplish your aim. I do not have the original source for the bridge code and so you would need to write your own code to read the CC128 and send that data to your web server. There are several examples of this on the web.

      Regards
      John.

  • Nick

    Great bit of hacking !
    So first up, I would like to reprog my bridge (acquired today) to update a lot faster than every 5 minutes which can easily miss e.g. someone taking a quick 9KW shower. Or a fridge compressor run. Or indeed a kettle boiling.
    I guess functionality is
    Read in ENVI 6 second XML updates ;
    Tally up average for each 5 or 10 updates ;
    Upload XML feed to Google Powermeter ;
    repeat;
    A Pachube.com press release suggests all traffic is routed via them at present. Maybe hence the slow updates.
    Or am I doing the Bridge a dis-service, does it tally up an average for each 5 min update ?

    (13.7Kw right now, shower, kettle and microwave all on – yikes !)

    • I’m sorry Nick, I have no idea how the provided CC software works. I have my own software to read the serial feed from the Envi and to then update a database on my own web site. If you need help reading the envi feed then I can help you but I do not have details of the communication with Pachube or Google Power Meter.

  • Brilliant – I managed to get my hands on a prototype board which is similar to the final version and thanks to your great instructions is now ready to do my evil biddings.

    Now to think of all the fun things I can make it do!

    Ross

  • Rob

    Hi, Very interesting. What other applications have or are you adapting this for ?
    Anyone found out a way of monitoring gas or water!?

  • […] Been experimenting with programming some Google Android apps using Eclipse + ADT. Some location based ideas are brewing. I also had a tinker with Google AppInventor which is a great tool if you don’t know how to code. But if you do it seriously bends the mind. Lastly, I am now the proud owner of a Current Cost ENVI plus Bridge. All uploading our household electricity consumption in realtime. Nice thing about Current Cost is the platform is pretty open. See some ideas here. […]

  • Thx for the post John, I will follow in your footsteps once I get the 2 extra components you mention.

    I have only used standard Arduinos up to now but this one has a great footprint.

    When you mention hooking up the the FDTI breakout, how did you locate board RX &TX? Did you find pads large enough to solder to without a microscope?

    BTW1. My bridge board seems to have different connectors (2xRJ45) but this may not be an older one.

    BTW2. For those who want to add gas (and have a meter with an output of some kind), I am told you can do this with the little boards CC gave out to homecampers. Not sure how this works but at least one homecamper did it. I would probably try to feed straight into the bridge board if I can overcome the soldering challenge to get at the input pins.

    As I have mentioned to Chris, PLEEEASE can these boards have a couple of extra pads for hackers. Absolutely no commercial reason for CC to do this but if you don’t ask.. Maybe Tinker will consider a hacker version?

    Paul