IoT part 2 with Button

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Further to my earlier article ” Physical Ms Flow button -IoT part 1” I have been tinkering around with Arduino code & Flow buttons a bit more. Some successes and some failures.

The failures

I cannot seem to connect to the device any more. So updating the code in Arduino desktop does not re-install on the device. I’d played around with that a bit and created a 2nd workflow to see if I could direct different information to other places, all to no avail as the device would not accept the new code.

That I’ll need to work through as another exercise, as I’d want to change settings on the device, especially when my Flow trial comes to an end.

In the initial setup I had the choice of 3 ports Com 3, Com 9 & Com 10. I currently have only Com 9 & 10. I think I pushed everything to Com 3 to load up the device.

So, while playing with the Raspberry Pi I found I could remote link to it, so I thought I’d try that with this ESP8266 microchip. It didn’t work, even though I had its IP address for the wifi. I had to enable SSH on the RPi device and haven’t done it (nor do I know how & if you can) on the ESP8266 microchip. So that didn’t work.

Also, within the Flows it still will not send a notification to my phone, that is disappointing. I know the mobile phone number associated with the account

The successes

Success 1- Altering the flow

So, as the code was set, as in the address of the initial workflow is configured in the device, so why not change that workflow? So that is where I put some of my efforts.

What I found was some other actions in the flow, such as Get current weather & Get a post, and in the Send an Email notification you can put dynamic data from what is fetched by the weather & Blog and you can put this dynamic information into the email, so that was pretty cool, up to a point.

So, on pressing the button I can get a live weather update sent to me via email, eg Subject = Weather -Clear& Apparent Temp5& Wind Direction= 140&Wind Speed =11& Gust Speed=36 and there is more information in the body of the email.

But there seem to be no simple news ones, there is a BING query, but you need an API key for that which is part of Azure services and I didn’t want to mess around with getting an account for that.

The other flows were a bit constrained, definitely less than Zapier for integrations with other services, and a lot of the other services I hadn’t really heard of, so most probably all paid services. There were a few SMS ones but they did not look simple and free.

This is why I quite like the android/google stuff as a lot of that is free and you can do some smart stuff with it. With MS its more enterprise focused so maybe more robust services but you have to pay for all of them.

Success 2. The device just running on power only, not connected to the Computer

So, I decided to try again to just move the ESP8266 microchip to just be plugged into power only microUSB instead of to the Computer, and this time, on pressing the button, the email arrives, so that workflow is active.

This was a biggy! I was thinking what was the point of the device if it had to be cabled to the computer to work, which is all I could get it to do yesterday. Now its independent, it is a lot more relevant.

I will take the device to the end of the house to see if it still works from there. The wifi will not be as strong but it works just fine. I’m very pleased with that.

Fixing bad connection/com port with device

I found the following video on YouTube that seems to address the lack of connection, so I’ll test that out.

Work? No, I seem to not have these types of extra items in my device manager, so I’ll need to try something else.

End comment

So I’m pleased with the ESP8266 microchip running from a power only setting. Shame about phone notifications, but that could just be a Flow issue.

It was good to explore the Flow modules, but not that versatile. I do like the dynamic information that you can have in other flows, that is fun, shame there were no other simple ones. Maybe I’d need to do more research to get more leverage. You can grab data from an Excel sheet (on a OneDrive location), that may be worth exploring. Also with the dynamic data you can have formulas. This is all tinkering though as its the Device and its communications that is the important thing.

I do have to figure out how to blow away the existing setup on the device and install a new programme. That is quite important.

I also did not have the Flow email account on my phone as its running from an email server on my VPS and the phone will not accept the account. This could go 2 ways, one start figuring out how to make android accept that email account, or forward the email from that account to another.

I chose the latter option and am using Thunderbird to do a forwarding using Message Filters to setup a forward of those weather emails to a different account that is on my phone. That works.

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