Power outlets can only perform a single operation: to supply power. There is no way to monitor power usage for a single outlet. If a homeowner has a large power bill there is not an easy way to indicate which appliance is using too much power.
A successful finished product for the team would meet many of the team’s design specifications. Specifically, a successful product would withstand typical operating conditions, handle unexpected power surges or failures, measure power and transmit that data, transmit data in a secure fashion, be in compliance with regulations and safety standards, and achieve certification for consumer use.
Proof of Concept
Team Istos plans to market towards the consumer electronics market and the construction market. Primary customers in the consumer electronics market are users who want to retrofit their outlets to have power consumption capabilities. Customers in the construction market would be interested in the product for creating a power consumption IoT solution for high technology homes.
There are a few companies in the market for creating smart devices for outlets. Companies like TP-Link and GE create smart outlets that sit on the outlet or actually replace the outlet. TP-Link is a large company that is known for designing wireless routers so their products in wireless energy monitoring are not uncommon. GE is known for creating a wide variety of products both with technology and without. Products that both TP-Link and GE have created are either too bulky or lack in functionality or design.
In order to be ready to enter the market, Team Istos is under sponsorship from Breadware Inc. Team Istos will be able to learn technical skills in the area of IoT as well as business skills from Breadware Inc. Team Istos has analyzed competitors to be TP-Link, GE, and Amazon. There are many other smaller Chinese manufacturing companies that have created smart outlets with lacking ease of use. Customers that buy these types of products are either building a new house and want to integrate a fully-fledged smart home solution, want to retrofit their current infrastructure. Most products are either sold through e-commerce or in hardware stores.
The team designed an addition to a circuit breaker to measure current and, as a product of this, the current drawn through each individual breaker in a breaker box. The team uses current clamp sensors around each hot wire, sensors measure the strength of the magnetic field through each wire. The data is then sent to an Arduino to be stored and transmitted.
The team proved that current measuring devices in the form of clamp sensors can work for measuring current through a circuit in a house, and that these sensors are compatible with an Arduino so the data collected can be used for analytics.
This product has real-world applications because it enables homeowners to more finely measure power consumption in their homes. Smart homes have been an increasing in popularity, as shown in , where there are 34.8 million smart homes in the United States alone in 2018, which is an increase of 27.6% since 2017. Many homeowners are already augmenting their homes with internet compatible products. The team believes that, through their market research, that their power monitoring product has potential to break into this market as a standard power monitoring system.
Fig. 1: A SolidWorks model showing the direction of design that the team is pursuing. Wire clips fit over hot wires from each breaker and run straight to a small controller board, shown in the bottom right.
Fig. 2: A detailed drawing of the previous figure.
Team Istos has been working on a product meant to read the power consumption of the wires coming out of a circuit breaker box to monitor the power consumption of a home on a room per room basis. The product will be able to read how much current passes through a wire using a clamp-on alternating current sensor. This current sensor data will be used to calculate power consumption and energy consumption over time. This data will be encrypted then transmitted wirelessly to an external server and a dashboard will be created in which a user can receive and view their energy consumption data. The prototype will have an clamp on alternating current sensor connected to an analog to digital convertor on a breadboard which then connects to a Raspberry PI. The sensor will give a voltage proportional to the amount of current running through the wire. Every part except the sensor/s and power connection will be in an enclosure that will rest next to the circuit breaker box. A user will be able to monitor the energy consumption of their appliances and rooms and can help determine what is contributing to their energy bill and make optimizations to their usage if they desire.
The product designed also meets design specifications the team layed out in Phase 1. To summarize the team’s design specifications in several broad categories, the product needs to be comparable to other products on the market, measure current reliably, and preserve functionality as a fuse even if the product fails. By using clamp meters, the team avoids losing functionality as a fuse even if the product fails. By being non-invasive, the team does not change the circuitry of a breaker. Using the team’s contact with Breadware, Inc., most products the team used in their prototype can be manufactured by electronics companies, vastly reducing the cost of manufacturing. This reduced cost allows the team to be competitive in the market with their product. Lastly, the team has spent a sizeable chunk of time developing a transfer function to account for extraneous magnetic field, either due by the Earth’s magnetic field or other wires. This transfer function yields more accurate measurements.
Testing and Results
Meet the Team
Mitchell Lane is from Pleasant Hill, CA. and is a senior Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Mitchell holds three academic positions on campus: Math Center Tutor, ENGR 241 Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, and Undergraduate Research Position under Dr. Mustafa Hadj-Nacer. Mitchell has faced many challenging engineering projects at his internship at Arrow Electronics. One such project was to design an IoT solution for corporate office use. Mitchell has developed skills in design, application of mathematical models, as well as instrumentation. Mitchell’s highlight accomplishment outside of academia or work include solving a Rubik’s Cube at 6.25 seconds, which ranked him 8th in the world. One particular experience at Mitchell’s internship allowed him to apply analytical techniques to define solutions. Mitchell was tasked with analyzing a process to find inefficiencies, with the use of time studies he was able to create a solution.
Mitchell’s current goals are to finish his undergraduate degree and excel in his research. Future goals of Mitchell include: attend graduate school at the University of Nevada, Reno and attain a master’s degree.
Will Crain is from Los Alamitos, CA. and is an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Will worked under Dr. Eric Wang and Dr. Jeff LaCombe to develop software to interpret the Nevada Department of Transportation’s vast amount of weather data and predict where services, such as snow ploughs, should be deployed.
Will taught himself to program at an early age and has drastically improved his ability to write code during his time at the University. Specifically, his Unmanned Autonomous Systems minor along with classes such as Heat Transfer and Aerodynamics greatly improved his ability to write code and work with software packages such as MatLab.
Will applied his analytical skills to design a radio antenna to point at a weather balloon with a radio transmitter in order to receive a low powered WiFi signal that broadcasted live video feed from several miles above the surface of the planet.
Will’s current goal is to pass the hardest semester of his college career, and his future goal is to attend a school for his post-graduate studies and focus on computational fluid dynamics and aerospace and astronautics.
Bruno Reyes is from Moapa, NV and is an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Bruno’s primary interest lies in dynamics on both a macro and micro scale and has been tailoring his studies towards becoming proficient in this area; he has also acted as a TA for dynamics. He has been self-teaching C and Python while also becoming proficient in MatLab and MotionGenesis. He practices SolidWorks and AutoCad in his spare time and has experience with 3D printing. Outside of school, he enjoys acting as a photographer of scenic landscapes.
A project Bruno has been working on has been to scan the surface of an object by dragging a cantilever beam across it to get a rough estimate of the object’s topography. He has used analytical techniques to devise a method of scanning by reading the displacement of the cantilever beam as it scans the surface and using an accelerometer to determine how fast the scanning is done.
Bruno aims to achieve a PhD in engineering and participate in research but would like to experience work in the aerospace industry beforehand. He plans on achieving a master’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno after graduation.
Ben Streeter hails from Las Vegas, NV and is attending the University of Nevada, Reno studying mechanical engineering. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering along with minors in both mathematics and in battery and energy storage technologies.
Ben has worked as a mathematics tutor at the University Math Center for the past two years, which has not only allowed him to practice and strengthen his mathematical knowledge but also improve his leadership skills when giving exam review sessions to large groups of students. Outside of academia, he also enjoys playing the violin and helps organize Rubik’s Cube competitions in the Reno area.
Since he started high school, Ben has designed and prototyped his own mechanical puzzles in his free time through the use of CAD and 3D printing, which has allowed him to gain vast knowledge and experience with using SolidWorks as well as SLS printing technology. He hopes to be able to apply and use these skills to help contribute to the project.
Ben’s remaining goals for the semester include preparing for graduation in the Spring and preparing well for his finals. His future goals include gaining more work experience by tutoring an engineering course and studying for the FE exam.
Joel Kaderka is from Lotus, CA and is attending the University of Nevada, Reno to earn his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Joel knew early on that he would want to work in the aerospace industry. Recently, Joel has taken an interest to fluid dynamics. He has since been able to narrow his goal after graduation to working with aircraft turbine engines. Joel is currently pursuing this dream through his internship at Arconic Engines, an engine ring manufacturing facility. Additionally, Joel is in the process of determining if graduate school is a good fit for him. He is looking into doing fluid dynamics research at UNR or University of Colorado, Boulder during his graduate studies.
The most challenging project Joel has worked on recently would be with his ARLISS Club. The club works together to design, build, and fly various autonomous and R/C drones. Joel has gone from never coding to being able to write elaborate aerodynamic simulations. Additionally, he has designed new solutions to complete Excel spreadsheets with an efficient code.
Joel came to Reno because of the great engineering school, and because he loves skiing. He races for UNR’s Alpine Ski Team, and helped the team take first place at nationals last year. He is looking forward to another year of representing his school at nationals.