Here’s an interesting gizmo that I just purchased with so much potential. The Reef Angel is a controller, based on the popular Arduino open-source hardware that is tweaked and packaged so it can be used by reef hobbyists. Its main strength is that the development of its software is contributed by other reef hobbyist programmers. This means that its software improves in time due to contributions, and can be tweaked and customized by anyone based on their needs.
I’m a big fan of Open Source. In open source projects, anyone can basically help with anything — from documentation, translation, testing, all the way to coding. I’ve been supporting two open source projects myself: Maemo by Nokia and more recently a joint project by Nokia and Intel called MeeGo where I act am the primary forum administrator of the two projects (here and here).
The basic Reef Angel controller package is just about $199. If you intend to control LEDs via Meanwell drivers, you can order it with a PWM Booster on the relay box pre-installed for an extra $15.
What’s in the Box:Head Unit
HDDB15 Communication Cable
Waterproof Temperature Sensor
Two (2) Float Switches and Connectors
USB to TTL serial converter cable
The Reef Angel Controller head unit comes with color LCD screen and thumb joystick for menu navigation. It supports one pH probe, three temperature probes, and two float switches.
The Reef Angel relay box comes with 8 controllable outlets (10A max), two LED driver outputs (optional), and the communication connector that connects to the head unit via the communication cable that looks like a VGA cable. The head unit is powered directly from the relay box.
A WiFi module can be added for an extra $99. The module lets you access the controller via the internet.
Below is how it looks when everything is connected:
The newest accessory that just came out late last year is the Relay Expansion Module. This lets you connect an additional relay box with 8 additional controllable outlets. With an Expansion Hub (coming soon), you can connect up to 8 expansion modules, for a total of 72 controllable outlets. The Relay Expansion Module that comes with an 8-outlet relay box is only $89 (for a limited time).
Below is how the two relay boxes are connected via the Relay Expansion Module:
There are a lot of documentation, sample codes, and tutorials at the Reef Angel site. If you have questions, need help, or want to help with the project, join us at the Reef Angel Google Group.
I plan to do a follow-up article on how to program the Reef Angel controller as well as other tweaks in the future so stay tuned.
Here are my complete unboxing pics. Make sure to check out the Reef Angel screen shots a the end:
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