Water Meter Monitoring

Discussion in 'Home Automation' started by jrich523, Jul 26, 2016.

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  1. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    @nayr this is mostly for you since you're the only person I've come across that can likely shed some light on this.

    Im trying to log my water meter and I've narrowed it down a little.

    I've found that its an Orion transmitter and most likely the "Classic" model

    https://www.badgermeter.com/brands/orion/orion-classic-ce/

    https://www.badgermeter.com/resourc...nt ce product data sheet ori-ds-00656-en.pdf/

    Basically all it says is that its a FSHH signal which from what I can tell I should be able to capture. I was able to find some FHSS receivers but its really all around R/C planes/cars etc.

    Thats all i've been able to figure out so far. I assume there is some way to grab this signal and log it? If i could get a USB FHSS reader or maybe something I could wire in to either BeagleBone or Arduino that would work too.

    thoughts?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2016
  2. nayr

    nayr Known around here

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  3. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    Hmm from what I can tell the encoder (weird name for it) is the actual meter, which is installed and owned by the water company. I have a basic Badger ADE (Absolute Digital Encoder) which has the Orion Classic attached to it. I assume basically back in the day they use to send a person to manually read that ADE meter and have since upgraded it with the Orion so that a van can drive by and collect the readings.

    I imagine they wont let me change the ADE/Orion because it will screw up how they read it. I really just want to grab any FHSS signals (seems to be what the Orion is sending out) and then just filter it on my serial number and grab the reading. According to the spec sheet it sends real basic info

    I guess I'll have to learn a bit more about how FHSS works and how I can read it. It seems all FHSS communication happens between 902-928 MHz in the US so since its restricted by the FCC I imagine any FHSS reader can read whatever is floating around? However the only "FHSS receivers" I've found are for RC applications and i imagine there is some pairing that is done between the receiver and the controller? Also they seem to mention how many channels they support? I assume for RC that means that each channel is used for some form of control (throttle/direction/etc) and in this case a single channel would be fine?

    It seems like this should be possible, I just might be a tad over my head here.

    I appreciate the response, thanks
     
  4. nayr

    nayr Known around here

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    FHSS is nothing special, but your going to have a fuck of a time reverse engineering the protocol.. thats not documented.

    I am seeing consumer displays for you to put in your house, but it appears as if they are standalone and dont have any method for outputting it via USB or something.

    Unless someone has already written software to decode the data from a generic 933Mhz receiver, this wont be easy.
     
  5. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    In researching this I found a ton of stuff about people complaining how insecure these things are so it might not be too bad. I guess i could reach out to Badger/Orion to see if they are willing to provide any info.

    Also I did come across a Badger Meter Reader which has a serial out, however I cant find any way to buy it, and since its for the water company its probably cost prohibitive.

    Maybe I'll reach out to them and see how much info they are willing to give up.
     
  6. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    I wouldn't bother contacting them. ebay might be more enlightening.

    Don't mess with your meter, the wires, or the transmitter unless you're prepared for a very large fine.

    Options:
    1. reverse engineer the protocol / build a receiver or buy one. Very time consuming. Hard to do without expensive equipment, hard even then.
    2. Build some type of optical or vibration/sound based sensor you attach the the outside of the meter. Eg. sense every time the needle goes around in a full circle.
    3. train a camera on the face of the meter and HEAVILY modify OpenALPR or something similar until it can read your meter by OCR. You could also hire a turk to read it for you.
    4. install a secondary meter / flow sensor of some kind after the water dept's meter

    FHSS is just a modulation technique like AM, FM, QAM, FDQAM, etc it doesn't determine the frequency.

    One of the more active Home Automation forums on the net is http://cocoontech.com you might try searching/posting there. People there tend to use a lot of high end stuff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2016
  7. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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  8. Zorac

    Zorac Getting the hang of it

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    tangent likes this.
  9. mycoma

    mycoma BIT Beta Team

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    or you can mount a camera to read the digits on the water meter:)
     
  10. nayr

    nayr Known around here

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    now that ive put some thought into it this is what I would do, I would cut the water main inside my basement as it comes into my house, then install a flow meeter of my own.. perhaps something like this, but it may not be accurate enough: http://www.atlas-scientific.com/flow-meters.html

    and while I was there I would also install a couple of electronic master valves for the whole house and sprinkler system, so I can shut off the water main when on holiday or anytime a leak is detected; and also shut off all water to sprinklers when they are not running, so if a valve sticks or a pipe breaks it wont result in a massive water bill and mess.
     
  11. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    I must be tired... yes a hall effect or reed switch is going to be the easiest way to read your existing meter. It should have been pretty obvious to me that there's something inside the meter magnetic in order to generate the current to the electronic amr device. My other suggestions would all work too. I'd give this a try before you resort to installing a second meter or flow meter if you have the skills/desire to do it.

    RE: @nayr deff +1 for a automatic shutoff, meant to include that in my suggestion of 2nd meter/flow sensor. In high school one of my friends came home to 4' of water in the basement after a water hose to a toilet broke off (of course the water shut off was in the basement). There are also some that can attach to an existing ball valve. A flow sensor would be a nice addition to your open sprinkler system to get alerts for broken heads.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2016
  12. nayr

    nayr Known around here

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    yeah opensprinkler already has a provision for a master valve that it energizes anytime it turns on so it would be very simple to add it to that.. Ive personally been flooded out a few times living in my parents basement as a teen, the power would go out in a storm and the sump pump would be down for hours.. woke up one morning afternoon with it knee high when I got out of bed.

    There some big obstacles with reading off the meeter, mine is in a pit with a metal lid.. tough RF environment with no power source so trenching some wires out there is going to have to happen.. then building something rugged enough to survive the pit without interfering with the other reader installed would be tough.. I would much rather do it inside the house, near my automation system.. I have copper and soldering it is pretty easy if you know what your doing, if not I think it'd be cheaper to hire someone to install them in a few hours than the cost of the meeter and valves.

    I been thinking of putting a hall sensor on my gas meeter, but its right up next to the house and already penetrates into the basement above ground.

    If you get readings accurate enough, your automation system could even notify you of a stuck toilet or faucet not all the way off.. something that may not trigger a flood sensor but is driving up your bill.
     
  13. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    yeah obviously the hall effect approach only works on meters installed inside a residence (pretty common since the 1980's). For older homes something installed inline is the only practical option. There are also some bolt on leak / flow sensors that clamp on an existing pipe, but that's a more expensive option.
     
  14. nayr

    nayr Known around here

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    I am thinking its a good chance the OP has a pit like mine, IIRC last time I looked in the pit it had a device that looked just like that orion classic transmitter and it had a flush mount antenna mounted on the top of the lid to get the signal out.. mebe not.

    I know I've seen some nice digital indoor water meters used for old houses split into many dorms/apartments and the likes.. I bet enough digging could find a really nice external meter you could install that would not destroy all budgets.

    Looking at the Orion transmitters im starting to think they obfuscated the things on purpose, they will not respond to requests for data unless you sign a NDA and have a software integration they believe is legit commercial product... It seems if you want to get your own digital reader you'll have to get it through the water company, as the residential displays come from the factory programed to only read the serial number of your transmitter.

    The entire security of these things is relying on obfuscation and secrets, so it basically leaves only one recourse.. reverse engineer the signals, and thats going to take some nice equipment I doubt you have access too.. I have most of the needed equipment, and experience with making my own packet radios and reverse engineering.. and its not worth the time and trouble, it'd be a ton of work.. best left to students looking for a research hack to show off there abilities.
     
  15. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    Pit or not, the meters and AMI equipment are pretty similar. I've got a badger meter with an itron transmitter and no pit. I think Denver Water is mostly itron.

    Regarding something like a hall effect sensor, i'd consider something like this: http://www.digikey.com/product-deta...-AAA-000-BU/MLX92242LUA-AAA-000-BU-ND/4968104
    that might save you from the external circuitry in the guide linked above, but can't guarantee this specific part is appropriate.

    If your meter is indoors I'd give something like a hall effect a try. Most meters / flow sensors you could install emit pulses similar to what a hall effect would pick up, so similar efforts would be required to process the output from either.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2016
  16. Zorac

    Zorac Getting the hang of it

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    ive never used these on small scale, but on an industrial scale, i've never had good luck with them. typically there only good for a narrow flow range and are very sensitive to the type of flow in the pipe (too turbulent and the accuracy goes out the window)
     
  17. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    *more expensive less accurate option
     
  18. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    I had looked at flow meters but mostly what I found in that market was right around $100, which if thats the only option thats fine, but I was going to see if there was a cheaper way.

    I could maybe use a hall sensor but i think it might be a little tough to try and decode that to the actual info and as @Zorac pointed out, there is likely to be other interference.

    Also as @Nyar guessed, I have a pit thats probably about 50ft from where I have my automation gear (which would be the closest point since it happens to be on that edge of the house anyways)

    I dont know if i would say they really did anything to obfuscated it, other than its FHSS and I would just need to find the pattern, from the reading I've done it sounds like these things are very basic and not encrypted or even really encoded in any way, I think if i was able to figure out the frequency order I could probably do the rest, however I dont have the equipment to do it, so dealing with the signal is sort of out of the question.

    Sounds like its time to go down the flow meter route
     
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  19. Zorac

    Zorac Getting the hang of it

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    My mistake, I was referring to he bolt or strap on meters, I have no experience with trying to do his with a hall sensor
     
  20. nayr

    nayr Known around here

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  21. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    So, the one part thats discouraging me from doing that is, ideally it should use something like MySensors, which I was never able to get to work correctly. I'm fairly certain it was power issues with the radio, but i gave up before i was able to get it sorted out. Also I was doing it with just a simple temp sensor, and the mysensors example code for it was broken and based on other posts i've seen it still seems to be that way. Basically nothing they had worked right, so meh...
     
  22. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    You can always try to capture and decode the wireless signals. But it will be a fairly slow frustrating process. Keep in mind all your neighbors have the same kind of meter, broadcasting with a different serial number. Yours is the closest so it should be the strongest signal, but you still have to deal with all the other transmissions. We also don't know what interval it transmits at, it probably isn't every time the water flows.

    Some kind of flow meter installed inline in side the house it going to be the best option.
     
  23. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    yeah so, thats basically what we've been talking about. Also because im the first house on a dead end, all of the water meters are on the front of my yard, so there are 4 within 5 ft of each other.

    I was able to find the interval in some of the docs, I believe it blasts out every 4 seconds.

    the problem is that i dont have the equipment to listen to a single range which is the real problem.
     
  24. switchman

    switchman n3wb

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  25. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    yeah it uses FHSS which is frequency hopping.. so that lets say it uses 4 different frequencies to send the data, you need to know the order it jumps to "decode" it so to speak which could maybe be ok if i could isolate it, and monitor a frequency range (i think its like 900-950 or there about, its documented some place)

    that looks pretty neat and might work, but i wasnt able to find any mention of FHSS on the site or forums.. which... if it could do it, i assume i'd come across at least one reference?

    at any rate, that looks really cool for other uses anyways... maybe i'll see what those goes have to say about this.

    thanks for the link!
     
  26. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    nayr likes this.
  27. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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  28. jrich523

    jrich523 Young grasshopper

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    interesting, so, they basically all just send 'pulse' data which should be pretty easy to capture on a beaglebone huh? im actually going to toss a BB in the garage for the garage doors, could probably use it for this too. I'll have to dig in to these to figure out the differences, but this seems like a really good option.
     
  29. tangent

    tangent Getting comfortable

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    I was thinking they generated a electricity for a pulse internally, but I found a datasheet for the Badger RTR and it's open drain with support for up to 30V input. https://www.badgermeter.com/resourc...tter register rtr tech brief rtr-t-05-en.pdf/
    the longer your cable run they higher the voltage you'll want to use.

    The resolution varies, different products / models pulse at different rates. 1/gal, 1/ ft^3, 1/10gal, etc some are more precise. Also note, mismatches between the meter and register will cause problems.
     
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