Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Build Your Own EnerJar

Several folks have asked me recently about energy measurement projects for various Environmental Science classes. Here's one that's a step above the most common ones I have seen. Matt Meshulam and Zach Dwiel, two EE students at Washington University in St. Louis, have put the hardware and software designs for their award-winning EnerJar.

It's a great combined software/hardware project with a green focus for those students who get through mastering the basic circuit board design and software development skills stages. With somewhere around $10 of parts, you can build this simple voltage, current, power, power factor, energy consumption...(really anything you want to program the PIC controller to measure) meter. Just pluc something into a power receptacle through the EnerJar and it will measure and display whatever data you want on its nice red LEDs.

Matt and Zach are planning to have preprogrammed PIC micro-controllers for sale so that hobbyists can go directly to building the jars if the computer interface and download steps seem daunting. Given the eager response on their web site, I imagine some intrepid soul will soon have pre-fabricated PC Boards that the less-intrepid can simply stuff, solder, and plug in.

Do check it out, complete with step-by-step instructions.