Advice on how to start my IOT project

  • Hello MySensors community,

    I'm hoping this community can point me in the right direction

    My plan is to monitor our boats in our boathouse with Raspberry Pi's using sensors (Tart, Grove or perhaps z-wave...I would love to build my own one day!). Ideally I'm hoping to find a solution whereby my sensors can all "talk" to a Raspberry Pi gateway. The Raspberry Pi gateway will have VPN client on it so I can securely connect the Raspberry Pi to my home server. From my home server I'd like to have a local install of software (I'm thinking OpenHab) that will talk to my Raspberry Pi gateway and report from my sensors and perhaps even control my sensors.

    Does this setup sound like something openHAB can help me accomplish with regards to installing openHAB on a home server and controlling through my Pi Gateway the various sensors or whatever else I decide to install? If so I'm more than willing to dive into openHAB or some other product if one would suit us better. If anyone is inclined to point me in the right direction on where to begin I would be greatly appreciative of the head start!

    Thank you.

  • Mod

    Welcome to the MySensors community @greavette !

    What you are describing should be fairly straightforward.

    You'd probably build a serial gateway and connect to the raspberry pi, but an alternative is to connect the radio directly to the raspberry pi (instructions) and use mqtt

    General information about how the MySensors network works is available at

    Information about using openhab and MySensors:

    The openHab part of the forum: where you'll be able to discuss with other openhab users.

  • Hello @mfalkvidd , very appreciative of your help and assistance. Very happy to have found this forum and your website. 👍

    Lots of good information here. I'll dig into the links to get more familiar with my initial setup and testing.

    Regarding sensors...I've purchased some Tart sensors and Grove sensors. I'm still trying to work out what sensors I should use. For now we are only using environmental type sensors (water in the boat to indicate pump not working...battery charging, temperature). But from what I've been reading about IOT I'm very interested in growing my devices to go beyond reporting and being able to 'Do' things when instructed. I'm looking forward to lots of fun on this project!

    When you mention a serial gateway, does this include a Tart Sensor Gateway or a z-wave add on board to help me 'Talk' to my sensors? I'm not married to any one type of sensor yet. We bought a few tart sensors because they small, wireless, run of a button battery for more than a year (supposedly). But the plethora of z-wave have more than just sensors but home control devices as well. Seems developing my first solution on z-wave using a RaZberry Hat/addon would be a good way to begin my project and allow me to grow. But I'm still very new to the whole IOT ecosystem so perhaps others can give me advice on what they would use instead to monitor environmental conditions and be able to grow into doing more.

    My basic requirements for environmental monitors are limiting but essential for my use case:

    • Wireless

    • Not overly expensive (this is subjective I know)

    • Battery operated for at least a year (button battery ideally).

    • Easy to install and attach to a Pi Gateway

    • Pi Gateway can collect sensor data from more than one sensor.

    • Ideally I want to run as few applications as possible on my Raspberry Pi so minimal install with minimal applications (preferably no databases or webpages on my Pi). I'm looking to have my Pi receive the various environmental monitoring data and push it to my home server through a VPN connection. Since I'm not at the boathouse 24x7 being able to ensure that my Raspberry Pi doesn't become corrupted if the power gets yanked is what I'm aiming for. I'll be looking to use perhaps a Read Only O/S on my Pi so I won't be collecting data on my Pi Gateway.

    • If openhab is the best way to go...I'm hoping to have openhab on my home server receiving this information from my Pi Gateway(s). I'm researching now on how to serve up a dashboard for openhab and perhaps use an Android app to display data from my openhab server.

    Not sure if this is too much to ask or not but I''ll dig into the links you provided to find the answers I need.

    Thanks again for any help you can provide or pointers you can give to where I can find the information I need.

  • Mod

    @greavette I've never heard about Tart or Grove so I can't say anything about them, but MySensors is an alternative to Z-wave, so if Tart and Grove are alternatives to Z-wave, MySensors will be an alternative to them as well.

    Z-wave can be connected to the same controller (OpenHab for example) as MySensors, but Z-wave nodes can not talk directly to MySensors nodes. A MySensors gateway can only talk to the controller and to other MySensors nodes. So if you buy z-wave nodes MySensors will not help you.

    MySensors does cover all the requirements you listed, but MySensors is DIY - it is targeted at people who want to build their own stuff.

  • Hello @mfalkvidd , my I am talking about competitor sensor products when your has sensors yourself.

    MySensors, I believe, is going to be a great community for us to dig into and learn more about! I look forward to learning all I can about IOT and working with this MySensors community to learn and share what i've built.

    Thank you for confirming a few things for me about products that MySensors has available.

    Also, since I'm so new to the whole IOT thing...does what I'm proposing to do with regards to our IOT setup...having a mesh type network of sensors all talking to a gateway and having that gateway (with minimal software installed) talk to our main server the most reliable way to setup our Infra? In my mind it makes sense to do what I'm proposing as it limits the possibility of problems if we ran the entire setup on a small SBC like a Raspberry Pi. Making the Pi, and the various sensors almost disposable if something goes wrong with them means that our dashboard and database all safe and sound on my home network where I can back it up and fix it if necessary.

    Thank you for any advice you would care to share on how best to setup our little project (that will hopefully grow).

  • @greavette said:

    My plan is to monitor our boats in our boathouse

    Just out of curiosity, what do you plan on monitoring on/with your boats?

  • Hello @dbemowsk ,

    For now just if there is water in the boat, we have two bilge pumps at the bow and stern. Our boats are wooden boats (circa 1950's) and when we are not at the cottage I want to ensure water is not filling up the boat (even though we do put the boat on slings to be doubly sure it won't). Secondly I want to monitor that the battery is receiving a trickle charge (again to ensure the bilge pumps don't drain the battery).

    And third and last...seems like a fun way to get the kids involved in building an IOT project with me! 🙂

    I'm also hoping that as we build out this little project I can build out more IOT projects based on this initial setup.


  • @greavette great idea. You can do one sensor to monitor the water in the boat, one to operate the bilge pump and one to monitor the battery. I also think it's great that you are getting the kids involved. If you need help, there is a great community here that can help with almost anything.

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