A Quick Look at InitialState (IoT) visualization service

April 16th, 2015

Raymond Jacobs of Initial State invited me to take a look at their internet of things platform in March, not long before I went on my vacation to Hawaii.

initial state gui

(click on image for larger version)

I registered on their site about a week later, and thought I’d take a look after I came back – after all, they offer a free (limited) account to try it out.

I am back :)

As you can see in the photo above, the interface is quite attractive, and easy to read. They have an active blog, and promote projects that use their IoT service.

They provide an http interface, and Python interface as well, for streaming data to their servers – and it looks quite easy to use. You do have to install the Python module with sudo.

I like the logic analyzer / oscilloscope style interface, and Raymond said you can load csv data locally into the interface to plot without uploading the data to their servers.

Their business model is based on subscriptions, so it should not be surprising that their free account is very limited.

Initial State Pricing April 16, 2015

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Free Account

Their (understandably limited) free account provides for streaming 25,000 events to their IoT server each month.

I asked Raymond what counted as an event – a single data point (say a temperature reading) or a group of related values (temperatures for several locations). Apparently each value counts as a separate event.

25000 events / (7 days * 24 hours per day) = 148.8 events (or values) per hour, and then you could not upload any more data that month.

25000 events / (31 days * 24 hours per day) = 33.6 events per hour.

Basically their free account allows you to log five temperature reading every two minutes, and you will have access to the last weeks data, then no access for another three weeks and a bit.

If you wanted to always be able to view the last seven days of data, you could stream one value every two minutes, or five values every ten minutes – and so on.

Fun to try and play with? Yes.

Useful? Depends on your needs.

Starter Account ($9/month)

Here you get 1,000,000 events to play with, and the data retention is increased to 30 days (but what about 31 day months?)

1,000,000 events / (30 days * 24 hours per day) = 1388.9 events per hour, which equals 23.15 events per minute.

That is actually a useful number of events for a simple home monitoring setup, as long as 23 events per minute is enough to log all the data you want.

You still have the issue of the low data retention, so make sure you keep local copies of you data.

For an extra cost ($1 per 1,000,000 events) you can send more data. Not recommended if you want to stream data once per second:

100 points per second * 60 seconds per minute * 60 minutes per hour * 24 hours * 31 days = 267,840,000 events, or $275.84 with their pricing model. Per month.

Professional Account ($19/month)

Now you get 5,000,000 events per month, and the data is retained for 365 days.

It is enough to log 115.75 events per minute – almost two values per second. You can add extra events for $1 per million events.

You can also import files.

Using the 100 points per second example above, your cost would be $281.84 per month – but at least your data would be retained for a year.


As you saw above, I analysed their pricing strategy before spending time implementing their solution.

Initial State has a very interesting IoT visualization interface that has the potential to become very popular – if they adjust their pricing model and offer longer retention.

The current pricing model is too profit centric and is not likely to attract customers once they see how little data they can actually stream in a month. The fact is that the data is not retained for a long enough period to justify storing it “in the cloud”.

Another issue faced by all IoT storage/visualization providers is that industrial and business clients will not want to store sensitive business data “in the cloud”.

Hobbyists and makers who do not need to log more than a few data points, and do not need to log them frequently, should take a  close look, as the visualization is attractive, but those with data sets that need frequent updates for a larger number of points would be surprised at the monthly cost.

Mobile version of Mikronauts.com goes live!

April 15th, 2015

You can now browse your favourite Raspberry Pi, Robotics and other articles at http://Mikronauts.com on your phone in a mobile-friendly format!

http://Mikronauts.com mobile view

If you prefer the standard tablet/desktop oriented view, you can switch back to it from the bottom of the mobile page.

Correction to schematic

April 7th, 2015

While I was away on a wonderful vacation to Hawaii, Thomas found a couple of errors on the schematic I posted for my Raspberry Pi Analog to Digital conversion article.

Here is the fixed schematic:

Raspberry Pi SPI Multiplexer @ http://Mikronauts.com

(click on schematic for larger version)

Sorry about that, I drew the schematic for the article well after building the circuit.

I replaced the schematic in the article with the corrected version above.

The errors were:

  • the Vref was tied to CLK instead of VREF on the MCP3208
  • R36 was on the wrong side of R35


Raspberry Pi Data Acquisition & SPI Multiplexing

March 21st, 2015

I’ve seen quite a few questions in the forums on how to add more SPI devices … so I decided to write up one of my Raspberry Pi based data acquisition projects.

SPIMux / Analog Data Acquisition @ http://Mikronauts.com

(click on the image for larger version)

Currently there are 8 channels of 0-4.096V inputs with 1mV resolution, and 16 channels of 0-8.192V channels with 2mV resolution, article has the schematic and Python source.

I used three MCP3208′s, a 74HC138N, precision resistors and a precision voltage reference in order to add 24 channels of analog input to one of my Raspberry Pi’s.

Article Index:

  1. Introduction, Problems: Conversion Error, Number of Channels, Input Voltage Range, Schematic
  2. Software Support, Sample Code, Results, Conclusion

Banana Pi & Pro SATA and USB Hard Drive Tests and experiments

March 8th, 2015

Did you even wonder if the SATA port on a Banana Pi, and a Banana Pro makes a difference?

Banana Pi & Banana Pro SATA and USB Hard Drive experiments @ http://Mikronauts.com

(click on image for larger version)

Is it really that much faster than USB-SATA converters (like the ones needed for the Raspberry Pi)

I decided to find out, comparing an SD card, USB-SATA adapters, and SATA drives on a Banana Pi and a Banana Pro.

There are four drives competing here… a 5400rpm laptop drive, a 7200rpm 3TB desktop drive, a slow SSD and a fast SSD.

See http://www.mikronauts.com/banana-pi/banana-pi-pro-sata-and-usb-hard-drive-tests/