BigClown System Description

BigClown System Description
BigClown is a modular system for DIY home automation projects. Moreover, it is an
awesome tool for rapid hardware development. That's why it perfectly satisfies hardware
needs for hackathons focused on Internet of Things.
BigClown System Concept
Please see our system concept scheme here
BigClown Elements
Core Module
Block Description
Core Module is equipped with a powerful ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller, RF chip SPIRIT1
which communicates in the 868 MHz band, it has a temperature sensor, accelerometer,
cryptochip, MicroUSB connector, SWD connector for debugging, LED and a button. The
picture speaks for itself:
Because the trend of these days is to make event-driven single-threaded applications (see
Node.js), we have transferred this basic idea to the ​embedded API for our Core Module​,
which is written in "C". We believe that pure "C" is an efficient environment for reliable
battery-operated applications.
We understand unit as a configuration module that communicates with the system. For
example, you can put together a unit with functions of weather stations, motion detector,
relay, display, etc. With a few exceptions, an essential part of each unit is Core Module,
which gives the unit the logic and provides communication interfaces. The wireless units
communicate to the central unit (Gateway) using a star topology network. The number of
wireless units communicating to a single gateway is limited to 64.
Modules and Tags
You can assemble each unit with modules and tags.
Modules are elements of the units with components which could not be fitted to format of
Tags (see below). Their boards are always equipped with 14-pin connectors for
interconnection and in the center they have four mounting holes with a horizontal pitch of
2.54 mm and 4.75 mm vertical. On the one side module has two 14-pin sockets, and on the
other side there are two headers with 14 pins.
Tags are 16 x 16 mm elements and they are generally fitted with just one functional element
e.g. sensor. On its bottom side there is a 5-pin header with pins.
Connecting modules and tags
For mutual interconnection of modules and tags we have prepared a system of connectors.
Modules have two 14-pin sockets on one side and two headers with 14 pins on the other. To
avoid incorrect connection there is, in the sixth position from the bottom, a one blind socket
and one missing pin.
You can attach Tag to any Module's right socket by using first five sockets from the bottom.
Or you can find separate 5-pin sockets on many of our modules. Tags are not treated for
improper insertion, so be careful and insert tags the way that their pins will be closer to the
center than the rest of the tag.
Sensor is a device that detects and responds to an input type from the physical environment.
These include motion, heat, light, humidity etc. In our system, the sensors are usually in the
"tag" format with some exception, e.g. CO2 sensor. You can also connect third-party I2C
sensors directly to our Core Module by using its GPIO.
BigClown's Sensor Portfolio:
3-axis MEMS accelerometer (Core Module)
Temperature sensor (Core Module, Climate Module, Temperature Tag)
Humidity sensor (Climate Module, Humidity Tag)
Absolute pressure sensor (Climate Module, Barometer Tag)
Light intensity sensor (Lux Meter Tag)
CO2 (CO2 Module)
Motion sensor (PIR Module)
Actuators are devices changing the energy in a controlled movement. The main
representative of this group are relays. In our system we have Relay Module, which allows
you to switch a small appliance (lamp, fan, ...) and Power Module with high voltage relay
which can control something larger.
BigClown's Actuator Portfolio:
Relay 12V DC / 5A or 24V DC / 2.5A (Relay Module)
Relay 230V AC / 16A (Power Module)
Programmable LED strip (Power Module)
Other BigClown's elements
Button (Core Module)
LED (Core Module)
Display (LCD Module)
Encoder Module
NFC reader (NFC Tag)
Central Unit - Gateway
The central element of our wireless network is a Gateway, which communicates with all
wireless units. Gateway is further connected via USB to so-called Hub. Currently Core
Module plays the role of the Gateway.
In our conception the Hub is a software package that you can install on any device with
Linux. It is widely used as a host Raspberry PI, but practically you can install our Hub
wherever you like.
The software package includes:
Mosquito MQTT broker that manages messages in our system
Gateway - MQTT client software that operates the serial port and provides
communication between the gateway and MQTT
Inside of your house
We use I2C protocol for communication between elements of the units (modules and tags).
MQTT is simple and unpretentious protocol for the transmission of messages between
clients through the central point - Broker. Thanks to this unpretentiousness and simplicity it is
easily implemented into the devices 'small' CPUs and relatively quickly spread. Today MQTT
is the OASIS standard, and because of all these positive attributes we chose it into our
868 MHz
We have designed our own open protocol built on MQTT, but adapted for efficient
transmission in order to conserve energy. And we communicate at 868 MHz, which ensures
the coverage of a standard house with a single gateway.
Into the world and back
Well, how do you get your information from automation to the world and how can it be
controlled remotely? Here we must emphasize that our home automation system might not
be connected to the outside world and can operate independently from the Internet. But
there a few possibilities of connecting BigClown system with the outside world.
The easiest way is to connect the host (eg. Raspberry Pi) to your local network (LAN) and
connect it through the automation of the Internet.
Narrow Band
We are working on modules for narrow band network, e.g. SigFox, LoRaWAN and Narrow
Band IoT. These modules are part of the units, so you can bypass the Hub and send data
and control the unit directly.
Programming automation behavior
Home automation is not just about hardware, but also about programs addressing addiction
and continuity. Certainly you want to handle situations where based on information and in
conjunction with other information there should be a change in the status of something.
Perhaps a drop in room temperature when it is simultaneously light outside, turn on the
heating system. These tasks you solve using scripts written in Python or Node.js. For
simplicity, we have prepared a library of sample scripts that you'll be able to easily modify.
Or you will use one of the ready made scripts written by others.
If you do not want to write a program, then there is a perfect application Node-RED. It is a
graphical tool for data interconnection elements of home automation and other equipment.
With Node-RED playfully interface information about the weather in your region with your
LED strip or twitter account.
You say, "okay, it works automatically, but I would have liked some app ...". We do not let
the development of custom applications and cloud, but we recommend the best platform on
the market. So far we like the most, so you can find the script ready and
operational guidance. We can also connect BigClown with Microsoft Azure / Power BI or with
BigClown Hackathon Set
2x Core Module
This module is a fundamental element of every
BigClown unit.
The two most important components are ARM
microcontroller and 868 MHz radio module.
2x SigFox Module
Communication module using SigFox network for data
2x Battery Module
Battery Module is designed as a power supply source
for battery-operated units.
Using a low-power buck converter provides excellent
efficiency and long battery lifetime from four AAA 1.5
V Alkaline cells.
2x Mini Battery Module
Mini Battery Module is designed as a power supply
source for battery-operated units.
Using a low-power boost converter provides excellent
efficiency and long battery lifetime from two AAA 1.5 V
Alkaline cells.
2x Climate Module
Compact detector to measure the air quality, and
with it the humidity, atmospheric pressure,
temperature and light intensity.
2x Power Module
This module allows to connect 5 V DC wall adapter via
a standard 2.1 mm power jack socket.
With this module a BigClown unit can be powered
using its integrated LDO which generates 3.3 V output
from a 5 V input.
Another feature is a high-current relay (230 V AC / 16 A). Moreover you can directly connect
(via a 3-terminal block) a programmable RGB(W) LED strip with 5V interface (voltage
translation logic is implemented) which is great for driving WS2812B-compatible LEDs.
2x Relay Module
Relay Module is suitable for switching small power
appliances - e.g. LED strip, cooling fan, siren, buzzer,
garage door opener, etc.
Bistable (latching) relay for switching loads up to 60 W
(12 V DC / 5 A or 24 V DC / 2.5 A).
2x CO2 Module
This module achieves ±50 ppm accuracy of CO2
measuring, using a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR)
sensor LP8 designed by SenseAir company from
Thanks to its low-power operation it can be powered
from batteries for years.
2x Breadboard Module
Breadboard Module offers an easy way to connect any
BigClown module to a breadboard.
2x RGBW LED Strip 1m
1 meter long digitally programmable RGBW LED Strip
with 144 LEDs.
It's possible to control every single LED in RGB
spectrum. Each LED diode has four chips R/G/B/W
(white is independent chip to provide the best warm
white effect).
2x Raspberry Pi Set
The Raspberry Pi 3 is the third generation Raspberry
Pi and you can use it as your BigClown Hub. BigClown
has its own advanced version of Raspbian distribution
available on it.
2x Ultrasonic Sensor
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