The FarWatch Family- Programs for remote monitoring

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©Aug 2007-Feb 2019

The FarWatch family consists of three elements. It is structured so that you can start gently, with just the first element, and build towards fancier solutions as suits your energy or needs.

Don't, please, be dismayed by "three elements". It means that if anything goes wrong your problem is already divided, and you are that much closer to conquering it. Three elements also means that you can "mix and match"... use what you like, substitute for things you don't. And lastly: The first element is useful on its own. Add elements only when your appetite demands them.

Parts of the FarWatch family go back many years... you will probably recognize them for their dated approach. But they still work, even if they are a bit tedious to set up. And offer features "the new kids" lack. On the other hand, more recent developments are easier to implement.

First element... data source...

Far Watch lets you watch premises from afar. You can check on things at the Watched premises from any internet connected computer, anywhere in the world. The computer you use to check up on the Watched premises doesn't need anything beyond a normal internet browser.

The original FarWatch (still available!) had lots of special features... and it is a bit of a challenge to set up.

"Son of FarWatch"... using an Arduserver for the data source at the "watched" premises... is REALLY simple.

For the original FarWatch, the PC it runs in can be very modest... a Win98SE box was quite sufficient, but of course these days, we are told that having one of those online is unsafe.

For my fancier FarWatchers, I believe DS043 (the old "simple" FarWatch solution) will run on Windows 10. I know at least some Vers ions of DS025 (the "fancy" solution) do. Both need a working 1-Wire system on the PC concerned, however. And in both cases, you need to put the exe on your hard drive in a place where they can write an .ini file. (It is not enough to run them straight from their zips.)

At the Watched premises, you must have an always- on internet connection, but you do NOT need to have a static IP address. I've not met anyone whose DSL, or broadband, or cable connection was inadequate. This includes people using very basic "home user" set ups.

An Arduserver, or the basic FarWatch are good options to supply the first element. Near the bottom of this page, I provide an introduction to a deluxe FarWatch data source program.

The second element... watching what your FarWatch or Arduserver is sending

Once you've installed an Arduserver or set up a FarWatch data source, you can see the temperatures, etc, at the Watched premise simply by visiting a webpage. Worried that maybe the heating has failed, and your pipes are about to freeze? Just use FarWatch.

The third element... watching what your FarWatch or Arduserver is sending. The Ne Plus Ultra!! Ta da!

Once you have the above working, you can extend your arrangements even farther and set up a FarWatchWATCHER!

I now have several on offer. They are simple bits of software that you run on the PC of your choice. Every so often... I recommend twice an hour... it automatically "looks" at the premise where DS025 is running, and checks things. (You don't have to remember to check.)

At the simplest level, it checks that the server at the watched premises is still "up". I recently was saved a great deal of hassle by one of my FarWatchWatchers bringing "a situation" to my attention in a very timely manner. Things could have been "difficult" without the warning that FarWatchWatcher gave me.

Some of the FarWatchWatchers check that the temperature on the sensor of your choice is still above the threshold of your choice. If it isn't, the Watching computer beeps (within a user-defined time band), and a red panel flashes on the FarWatchWatcher screen. (At one point, your PC couldn't be in a "suspend", or "power save" or "screensaver" mode... but I think that no longer applies.)

Other FarWatchWatchers are not so "alarm" oriented... but they will "harvest" sensor readings, save them in a datafile on the Watching computer, and draw a real-time graph on its screen.

FarWatchWatcher does saves you having to remember to check via FarWatch that the pipes in the Watched premise are not heading towards freezing.

And guess what? FarWatchWatcher (with alarms) has its own descriptive page, too!, as does the FarWatchWatcher (data logging and graphing) program. (That is the latest variant on a series of programs which work in similar ways, but are hard-coded to need their data in a particular format. The others are described at http://sheepdogsoftware.co.uk/ssfw004.htm, http://sheepdogsoftware.co.uk/ssfw003.htm. The data requirements are explained, and there's nothing to stop you from setting up your own data server to those requirements. Not hard, and details are given. ()

Deluxe FarWatch data source.....

Once you have a basic (non-Arduserver) FarWatch deployed, tested, settled in, and enjoyed, you may elect to "go to the next level" (!) That merely entails installing a different piece of shareware in the FarWatch computer. You would not have to give up the FarWatch services already running. You could go back to them if you wished.

The enhanced software makes further use of some of the services you already have working in your computer, as a result of setting up FarWatch. (The enhanced software can also be used without FarWatch, but in that case you will only have the benefit of local services.)

The enhanced product- DS025... don't you love the catchy name?- turns your computer in to a weather monitoring and weather data recording station. It can simply record a temperature... although recording TWO temperatures (indoor/ outdoor?) is so little extra work that you'd be crazy to set system up for just one temperature.... or, with some effort and expense (sensors), you can set the system up to monitor....

Up to five temperatures
(Wind direction is a work- in- progress!)
Barometric pressure
Light levels
Door openings

You can even present images from a simple USB webcam or IPCam at the monitored premises! Using the image capture software and hardware of your choice. See my page about the video feed option in FarWatch / DS025 if you want to see that in action, learn more.

If you visit a FarWatch DS025Weather Station, you can usually see an example of the system in action, although that site is not always up! Details in a moment.

DS025- the weather station shareware- has its own descriptive page.

The FarWatch DS025Weather Station I cited a moment ago is in southern Connecticut, USA, near the Haddam Bridge across the Connecticut river. "Now" is at the right hand edge of the graph. The vertical gray lines are midnights. The red up/ down/ up/ down line is outside temperature. The slowly drifting green line is barometric pressure. One of the brown lines shows you the windspeed: When horizontal wind zero. Gently up: gentle breezes. Strongly up: Strong winds. Look for the on/ off/ on/ off pattern which ties to day/ night/ day/ night. The sensor cost about $10, and isn't very robust, so the windspeed sensing is sometimes out of action.

In other news...

In the spirit of my "FarWatch" family of solutions, I would like to mention...

Sarmalink.com/ (The link will open in a new tab or window, making returning to FarWatch easy.)

I know next to nothing about Sarmalink... but I saw their USB thermometer on eBay in the summer of 2012(!), and decided to look at their webpage. They seem to be trying to do "FarWatch- like" things, and so you may want to look at what they have to offer. If, and I don't know if they are or are not, if they are supplying reliable hardware and robust software, they look pretty good! Their product won't do all that FarWatch will... but, on the other hand, it will be easier to set up!

If you try them, let me know how it goes?

General remarks:

I do not insinuate spyware in my programs. (Click here to learn about the dangers of spyware.... as bad or worse than viruses.)

Your thoughts on the site would be welcome! PLEASE report any difficulties with downloading the material or its use?? I promise I won't think you are silly... and will APPRECIATE any trouble you take to help me see where my instructions are not clear. (I have been known to send free registered Vers ions to people!)
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