TED Open Source: How we went live with our electricity use.

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By Peter Troast - May 27th, 2009

TED powered electricity monitoringAs promised, below you will find our recipe for the TED, The Energy Detective hack that enabled us to publish our electricity use on the Energy Circle site, starting Earth Day. Thanks to Peter Murray for putting this together. If you take this on, good luck! Please report back to let us know how it goes.

Recipe for: ASUS WL-500g router as TED data harvester

Please note, these instructions are designed for folks comfortable hacking Linux at a fairly low level.

  1. Purchase an ASUS WL-500g Premium (I used v2). Here's a link at NewEgg:Asus WL-500gP. Technically you could use any device that will run Linux and has a USB port that can be plugged into your TED - we liked the small form factor and energy efficiency of the ASUS router over running a full computer for this purpose.
  2. Follow the instructions here to build and install OpenWRT Kamikaze for the ASUS. Change the root password and reboot before proceeding.
  3. Once it's up an running, log in and install and remove the following packages. This will involve editing your opkg.conf file and setting up your host with http running and serving the build modules.
  4.     opkg remove kmod-ppp
        opkg remove kmod-pppoe
        opkg remove ppp-mod-pppoe
        opkg remove ppp
        opkg install kmod-usb-serial
        opkg install kmod-usb-serial-ftdi
        opkg install libpthread
        opkg install python-mini
        opkg install pyserial
        opkg install usbutils
        opkg install curl
        opkg install ntpclient
  5. Configure the wifi for client operation. Below are configurations I used to connect to a WPA protected network with a static IP address. You will need to substitute your network's IPs - or use DHCP.
     #    edit /etc/config/network to configure the wifi interface
         config interface    wifi
         option ifname       "wl0"
         option proto        static
         option ipaddr       <IP ADDRESS>
         option netmask
         option gateway      <GW ADDRESS>
         option dns          <DNS SERVER ADDRESS>
     #   edit /etc/config/wireless appropriately for the local network
     config 'wifi-device' 'wl0'
         option 'type' 'broadcom'
         option 'channel' '6'
         option 'disabled' '0'
     config 'wifi-iface'
         option 'device' 'wl0'
         option 'network' 'wifi'
         option 'mode' 'sta'
         option 'ssid' ''
    option 'encryption' ''
    option 'key' ''
    wifi up
    # install nas start script
    /etc/init.d/nas start
    ln -s /etc/init.d/nas /etc/rc.d/S55nas

    YMMV with these configurations - consult the www.openwrt.org site for loads of forum posts etc on configuring OpenWRT as a client in various situations.

  6. Manually install the termios.so library from the full python build. This is required to run the python serial interface (pyserial) to access TED.
  7.  scp <USER>@<YOUR_HOST>:/<path_to_kamikaze_build_of>/termios.so 
  8. Plug in TED USB cable to router. You should shortly see dmesg output like this:
     usb.c: registered new driver serial
     usbserial.c: USB Serial support registered for Generic
     usbserial.c: USB Serial Driver core v1.4
     usbserial.c: USB Serial support registered for FTDI SIO
     usbserial.c: USB Serial support registered for FTDI 8U232AM Compatible
     usbserial.c: USB Serial support registered for FTDI FT232BM Compatible
     usbserial.c: FTDI FT232BM Compatible converter detected
     usbserial.c: FTDI FT232BM Compatible converter now attached to ttyUSB0
       (or usb/tts/0 for devfs)
     usbserial.c: USB Serial support registered for USB-UIRT Infrared
     usbserial.c: USB Serial support registered for Home-Electronics TIRA-1
       IR Transceiver
     ftdi_sio.c: v1.3.5:USB FTDI Serial Converters Driver

    And you should have the device node /dev/usb/tts/0 available.

  9. Download the ted.py file originally written by Micah Dowty:
  10.  wget http://www.bananabend.net/energy_detective/python/ted_orig.py
  11. Run with
        python ted_orig.py /dev/usb/tts/0 

    and you should get output from your TED.

  12. At this point, you can modify the python script to do whatever you like with the output from TED. We modified the ted_orig.py to dump the results every second into a file in the OpenWRT's ramdisk. The modified version of the TED python script is here. We started this script with an init.d entry:
  13.  #!/bin/sh /etc/rc.common
     # Copyright (C) 2006 OpenWrt.org
     start () {
             /usr/bin/python /root/ted2.py /dev/usb/tts/0 &
     stop() {
             killall -9 python
  14. We then created a quick shell script that used curl to post the output to a PHP script on our server using curl. This is fired from cron once per minute.
     if [ -f /tmp/ted ]; then
       VALUE=`cat /tmp/ted`
       echo ${VALUE} > /tmp/post.out
       /usr/bin/curl --max-time 15 <SERVER_URL>?${VALUE} >> /tmp/post.out 2>&1
       echo 'skipped' > /tmp/post.out
  15. The server-side php script that SERVER_URL pointed to looks like this:
     # Insert code to extablish mysql connection to database
     $housecode = $_GET{'house_code'};
     $kw_rate = $_GET{'kw_rate'};
     $volts = $_GET{'volts'};
     $kw = $_GET{'kw'};
     if($kw && $housecode)
         $insert = "insert into ted_data (housecode, ts, value) values ('" .
               $housecode . "', '" . date("Y-m-d H:i:00") . "', " . $kw . ")";
         $err = mysql_error();
     	echo "ERROR: " . $err;
     	echo "OK";
         echo "ERROR: Bad input";
  16. The schema for the database looks like this
     CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `ted_data` (
       `ts` datetime default '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
       `value` double NOT NULL,
       `title` varchar(256) default NULL,
       `annotation` text,
       `housecode` varchar(5) NOT NULL
  17. We then used the PHP Google Datasource adapter found here to establish our Google Datasource.
     error_reporting (E_ALL ^ E_NOTICE);
     require_once 'MC/Google/Visualization.php';
     $db = new PDO('mysql:host=' . $DBHost . ';dbname=' . $DBase, $User, $Password);
     $vis = new MC_Google_Visualization($db, 'mysql');
         'table' => 'ted_data',
         'fields' => array(
     	'timestamp' => array('field' => 'ts', 'type' => 'datetime'),
     	'kW' => array('field' => 'value', 'type' => 'number'),
     	'title' => array('field' => 'title', 'type' => 'text'),
     	'annotation' => array('field' => 'annotation', 'type' => 'text'),
         'where' => 'ts > date_sub(now(), interval 72 HOUR)'
  18. And, finally, used Google's Annotated Timeline widget to render the graph. We used some JS to modify the layout of the timeline widget to integrate with the EnergyCircle look and feel - for clarity that code is not included here...
     <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/jsapi"></script>
     <script type="text/javascript">
     google.load("visualization", "1", {packages:["annotatedtimeline"]});
     google.loader.writeLoadTag("css", "ted.css");
     var query;
     function reload()
     function isIE()
       return /msie/i.test(navigator.userAgent) &&
     function callback(result)
               {displayAnnotations: true, allowHtml: true});
       setTimeout("reload();", 60 * 5 * 1000);
     function drawChart()
       query = new google.visualization.Query('/ted_query.php');
       query.setQuery('select timestamp, kW, title, annotation');
       var div = document.getElementById('chart_div');
       chart = new google.visualization.AnnotatedTimeLine(div);
     <div style="height:825px" id='chart_div'>Loading...</div>

Please let us know if this recipe is helpful and feel free to post questions, errors, or omissions here or email info@energycircle.com.

Updated May 29, 2009 @ 13:40 for formatting and tiny content changes - more info coming!

Updated May 29, 2009 @ 14:30 to include server-side code


Awesome! Thanks for sharing! I think this is missing some of the detail, to make it "open source" though. Steps 1-8 are all "getting data off the TED." Step 9 is "magic happens here." :) If you shared the source of your modifications to ted-orig.py, ted_query.php, and MySQL schema, this would be a repeatable. Posted by Bengt-Erik Norum on May 27, 2009 2:25pm

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This completely rocks! It reminds me of the first TiVos or other similar boxes that people hacked up to do all sorts of cool stuff. I salute the intrepid geek that put all these bits together in the right order!

I can do all this stuff, but it's been an "on the list" item for a while (I can, but don't). There are a bunch of other similar options involving Tweet-a-Watts and other options -- check out today's WattzOn's roundup of similar mashups. There are multiple people all trying to get to the same place at that same time. Very good.

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Does the TED device support this data acquisition without the energy footprints software? That adds significantly to the price... Posted by blalor on May 28, 2009 5:40pm
blalor - I believe you need to purchase the footprints software even if you don't use it. Otherwise, TED will not respond to requests to upload its data. Posted by David Fay on May 29, 2009 3:45am

blalor - There is a difference in firmware. TED with footprints comes with the USB port activated, and w/o footprints, the USB port is not activated. If you have a TED without footprints, you can upgrade by purchasing footprints separately and upgrading your firmware.

Posted by TimJ on May 29, 2009 6:29am
In a few weeks, will all of this become irrelevant with the TED 5000 on its way? It looks like it will be much easier to get this data with the new unit. http://blog.mapawatt.com/2009/05/28/ted-5000/ Posted by ckmapawatt on May 29, 2009 9:20am
I write visualization software and would love to get a hold of the raw data, so I can play with it. Is there a way you can make that downloadable? Posted by steve souza on May 29, 2009 12:36pm
I bought an Asus WL-500gP right away through the link above as I would be very excited to post my TED data to the internet in a similar way, but unfortunatly I get stuck after installing OpenWRT on the router. It's installed and I can ssh to it as well, but I can't get an internet connection, even though I plugged the WAN into my other router, so I can't get beyond your first box with installing the opkg packages. Posted by Martin Lang on May 29, 2009 6:46pm
Hi, I integrated with TED by reading the TED Database and from a Windows Service I created and posting the results to http://www.currentwatchers.com, a site I created to help folks share energy observations and best practices. The windows software is available on the site for download. Mike Posted by Mike Cook on May 31, 2009 3:06am
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-the instructions at: http://oldwiki.openwrt.org/OpenWrtDocs(2f)Hardware(2f)Asus(2f)WL500GPV2.html say: "Link the packages you care about Take a look in the resulting packages directory; you'll see there's a lot of stuff. You probably don't need to build everything in there. Instead I recommend making symlinks for only the packages you need. For example, suppose you're following the UsbAudioHowto, and you want to use madplay to decode streaming MPEGs." OK, which packages do I care about - do I build them all? Posted by Martin Haeberli on Jun 18, 2009 2:39pm
You can build them all, or select only the ones listed in the recipe in the original post. Posted by Peter Murray on Jun 18, 2009 3:01pm
Next question: the recipe at: http://oldwiki.openwrt.org/OpenWrtDocs(2f)Hardware(2f)Asus(2f)WL500GPV2.html says: "Next, the USB2 support needs to be patched. You can review the patch at https://dev.openwrt.org/cgi-bin/trac.fcgi/attachment/ticket/3365/ssb-ehc..., and you can pull down the patch file via a little, tiny, grey link at the bottom. That patch targets kernel 2.6.25-4, which is probably not your kernel. The following appears to do an okay job of pulling down the patch, and rewriting it for kernel 2.6.25-10:" But, for some reason, ticket 3365 is closed, so this patch is no longer available. Is it still relevant for the 8.09 branch? Best, Martin Posted by Martin Haeberli on Jun 23, 2009 7:56pm

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