After we installed a new boiler and a 10 port manifold to control our (waterborne) I needed to find out which heating loop from the manifold went where without spending weeks on my knees turning loops on and off manually, and then wandering around barefoot to find out which part of the floor was affected.

So I decided to put temperature sensors on every loop and a few other strategic points in the heating system.

So far I have 16 temperature sensors (DS18B20 sensors) controlled by 2 Raspberry pi Zero’s.

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Why 2 Raspberry pi Zeros? – Well I ran into problems when I went above 10 sensors on the first raspberry Pi Zero, and decided to see if I could solve this part of the puzzle – as (for all I knew) there was a software or bandwidth limit stopping me at 10 sensors.

The DS18B20 uses a rather ingenious protocol called 1Wire, which enables a “multi drop” configuration of sensors originating from one set of wires. It can be run with 2 wires (parasitic power) or 3 wires (plus, round and data wires). I went for the last one – as using parasitic power sensed one step too far for me. So I used a breadboard attached to the Raspberry pi to make it easier to experiment.

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I have had quite a few problems with this – even though the circuit is simple :

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I’m using a bit more of a “star” configuration, as each sensor has approx 1m of cable connected to it.

I had a number of problems where the Raspberry Pi’s stopped working at “random” intervals – and lot of experiments with resistor values, swapping of power supplies and so on did not sort the problem out.

The solution to the problem (for me in this particular case) turned out to be the wireless connection to the LAN, as soon as I put a access point close to the Raspberry Pi;s – all stability issues of this type went away!

(More about the setup later)