Final Year Project

Project Abstract

This project looks at an implementation of an ethernet local area network using embedded microchip ‘PIC’ microcontrollers, whereby each room in a building is thermally controlled by an embedded ethernet node. Each room node is then in turn controlled by a central control node which also hosts an embedded web server, allowing a user to easily control the temperature of each room through an internet browser.


With the ever increasing amounts of integration of microprocessors and microcontrollers in electrical goods in today’s world and the ever growing adoption of cheap ‘smart home’ solutions, it makes sense to integrate some form of processing power into the heaters in each room of an house. With the popularity of ethernet (IEEE 802.3) as an home networking medium, it makes sense to use this technology. There are several ways this could be achieved, even in an home without any wired ethernet cables. Two existing technologies are WiFi (IEEE 802.11) and ethernet over mains (known by several names by different manufactures). The second of these two would be very easy to use, as it provides a RJ-45 socket for the network device to use, whereas the second option would involve having to integrate the WiFi receiver / transmitter into each node, which is beyond the scope of this project.

A project involving several PIC microcontrollers talking to each other over ethernet has not been attempted before by the university, although one PIC acting as a standalone web server, with controls for various input and output transducers, has been completed successfully but used a different network interface controller (NIC). However, since that project was completed, the microchip TCP/IP stack has gone through several revisions with the latest being v4.00RC (beta), which was supplied through whilst having trouble trying to get various parts of the stack to work properly.

Room-by-room temperature control has been chosen as the purpose for these interconnected microcontrollers, due to the current popularity of energy saving, ‘green’ technology. By controlling the temperature of each room individually, rather than a single thermostat for the whole building or floor, can significantly save energy bills and with the added convenience of being controlled through one central website would allow the busiest of users to only heat the rooms needed, at the times when they are needed. If this website is also made available to the internet through a permanently connected home broadband connection, the home owner would then have increased control over the temperature in their rooms, by being able to control their temperature from anywhere in the world. An example of this is the scenario of when the user extends or shortens a planned holiday and can simply connect to their house to update its heating pattern to adapt to their latest needs.

Test Room
Test room, with 'heater' on
  Test Room
Test room, opened up, with 'heater' off

Erm, not quite sure what to fill in here, without repeating the whole of the dissertation :|

So have a directory listing...

This page is best viewed with a web browser
© 2007 Michael Curry
Last Updated 29 July 2007
Valid XHTML 1.1!    Valid CSS!