H6X POD [in dev]

- the companion for the next Apocalypse -
AirQualityIndex, UV, GPS, HeartRate, Thermal Cam, 21Ah, 60w Charger, LEDs for days and more

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My idea is to make a device that can be a Weather Station or warn me if Air Quality (maybe even indirect virus particle risk) or sun UV Levels become harmful - happens earlier than you think. That can see Temperature and measure Heart Rate, charge a Phone about 10 times, flood-light the Dark, tell me where i am and much more...

Logging, Displaying and then sending all that Data to a Smartphone, all while being offline,
and for weeks on one Battery charge.

The H6X Pod will be rugged - made of Carbon, Aluminium and Vegan Maritime Leather and has self protection and redundancy features.

// in development - i am a beginner //
for the first functional prototype i am staying in the Arduino realm. I have completed my initial research & testing and am working on building and finalising the prototype design.
i am posting this to get feedback, find bugs and anyone who wants to collaborate. happy about any and all feedback

Features - Apr 23, 2021:

(over 28 different Capabilities & dataPoints)

Battery:  21.000mAh

Fast Charging Out:    60w (USB-C, USB-A - QC4+, PD3.0)

Fast Charging IN:       30w (USB-C, USB-micro-b (backup))

  • SD Card Reader (for Logging all dataPoints)
  • 1.54" IPS TFT Screen & GUI with capacitive touch Buttons or analog joystick
  • HTML App (Monitoring and change Settings - Offline on localNetwork)
  • 'Thermal Duct' Cooling System (/w two 20x20mm Fans)
  • Automatic Sleep and Power Save modes
  • Error, Battery and Electronic Path Protection (Auto-Shutdown, Warnings)
  • Robust Design, some Redundant Sensors & Components

  • 1 × ESP32 DevKit C
  • 1 × Sensirion SCD30 CO2, Temperature, Humidity
  • 1 × AMG8833 8x8 Interpolated Thermal Cam
  • 1 × CJMCU-8128 BME280, CSS811, HDC1080
  • 1 × MAX30102 Heartrate + Blood Oxygen

View all 28 components

  • [H6X] State of the build #4

    Manu Bender04/28/2021 at 23:27 0 comments

    Progress:  65,6%      Hardware: v9       Code: v9.8


    • implemented AMG8833 8x8px Thermal Cam
    • added Button2 library for Interrupt double-click detection
    • enabled INA260 Interrupt low voltage alarm to trigger system power off through Buck converter EN pin
    • removed pull-up resistors on all I2C sensors, keeping 10k main I2C pull-ups
    • bug fixes


    • detecting SD unmount or error inside Loop() not working anymore
    • removed MPU9250 for AMG8833 to work (I2C addresses)

    AMG8833 Functions:

    Using Algorithm from the Adafruit AMG88xx Library.

    Screen shows:    Center Point Value, Max Value, Min Value, fps,  Interpolation Time

    • LowRes Mode      30x28 Pixels Interpolated, 12 fps 
    • HighRes Mode     120x111 pixels Interpolated, 1 fps (+Auto-Exposure)
    • Full Screen burst mode    collects the highest value out of the full array
    • Center Point burst mode  collects the highest value out of the 2 center pixels

    Button Single-Click:    Trigger Burst Measurement (small 0.49" screen shows 3-sec countdown)
    Button Double-Click:  Toggle Measurement Area (Center Point, Full Screen)

    In HighRes mode i maxed out the Resolution so the frame Rate drops to 1. The Colour Temperatures are mapped to onscreen Min and Max Temps. Kinda works like a simple exposure compensation in a normal camera. The adjusted values get passed on to the LowRes mode if switched. Default temperature scale is 22C - 33C.

    It features a Burst Mode (Averaging Mode) to get a more accurate reading with the 8 bit sensor values, by averaging 50 samples over 3 seconds. Measurement will always be taken from the highest temperature seen by each of the 64 Sensors inside the selected Measurement Area (8x8 or 1x2).

    Burst Modes after the Jump:

    Read more »

  • [H6X] State of the build #3

    Manu Bender04/23/2021 at 17:18 0 comments

    Progress:  64,8%      Hardware: v9       Code: v9.8

    Update: Time for some pictures of Hardware implementation and UI progress:

    Prototype v9
    Layout of Battery pack, power & charging boards inside the Thermal Duct, that the empty battery slot creates.
    Components are mounted on Aluminium heatsink that goes from top to bottom with maximum exposed surfaces to the Airflow.
    There are two levels of PCBs in this design. 3x 2S 2A Chargers(?), 4x 3A voltage buck converters, INA219 + INA260, 400w PWM Controller, 2S 20A Protection/Balance Board. Hoping Air will still flow ok. 
    Also still figuring out the power path for charging.
    Loading Screen
    Loading Screen (random selection of 12 different screens), shows loading errors and reset reason

    More Pictures & Info after the jump --->>

    Read more »

  • [H6X] State of the build #2

    Manu Bender04/23/2021 at 12:21 0 comments

    Progress:  61,4%      Hardware: v9       Code: v9.7


    • replaced MLX90614 BCC with AMG8833 64px Thermal cam
    • added Sensirion SCD30 - CO2, Temperature, Humidity Sensor to support fairly inaccurate CCS811 & HDC1080
    • added secondary tiny 0.49" OLED screen (displays sensor & error data)
    • added additional INA260 Voltage & Current Sensor (15 Amps max)
    • added mini GPS Module in plans (not ordered yet, still researching - PA1010D ?)
    • added self-error checking/disabling for Sensors & SD reader
    • sped up code by a lot! (avg 80 fps)
    • made progress with UI/UX menu (new Debug & Info Screens, Charge Indication etc...)
    • implemented deep Sleep & low Power Modes


    • conflicting I2C adresses for RTC, MPU & AMG8833 (go Serial? or one has to go)
    • how to manufacture precise aluminium bends (r 1.75cm)
    • voltage still unstable bc of  janky breadboard/cables & too many components (occasional i2c errors) guessing  soldered connections and better wires will fix this

    Issues with the power Path/Charging:

    USB-C input needs 9v from wall charger to work, because i am using non-balanced 2S, 8.4v, 2A charging modules that don't boost the voltage.

    i tested multiple 2S charging boards TP5100 in parallel and i think it killed 2 of them. So charging would be limited to 1 charger with 2A max, which would take way too long (over 16h). Maybe going 2S was a bad idea, but it gives me the ability to toggle these (HW-313, 3A) voltage buck converters on and off via their enable pins. And voltage conversion differences between battery voltage and the component voltages are lower. (highest is 12v, lowest 3.3v)

    Having a balanced, protected 2S (3 terminal) buck-boost converter/charger supporting 7A with USB-C PD4.0 polling for voltage, input and output switch, would be a dream (MJ1 Batteries support 6.8A charge rate, which would take 6h30).. if my math is correct.

    I know designing a custom PCS with charging/power/protection/management features, sensors and as much as fits on it would probably be the best solution, but i don't have the expertise yet. Arduino and Alibaba modules it is for now. 

    unless someone wants to help?

    New Component / Feature Illustration:

  • [H6X] State of the build #1

    Manu Bender01/25/2021 at 22:26 0 comments

    Progress:  42,7%    Hardware: v7       Code: v7.3


    • Airflow, heat management, heat expansion of materials.
    • Getting my prototyping circuit up and running again. switched to a new breadboard and wires and now all the voltages have dropped.

    no idea how to tackle the charging path. Schematic &  more Details after the Jump

    Read more »

  • First Concept Renders.

    Manu Bender01/25/2021 at 22:08 0 comments

    This was my first version. With a hilariously complicated tray, pushed by a tiny linear Actuator, comes out to show you all its brains. Moved away from that. Also the old version was much bigger and heavier with a double 9x9 18650 Pack.

    Going for a 6x6 Hexagonal design now.

    Read more »

  • Sensor Testing.

    Manu Bender01/25/2021 at 22:05 0 comments

    Had first successes with the CJMCU-8128 (CO2, tVOC) and MAX30102 (HeartRate), WiFi, Screen:

    Read more »

  • Proof of Concept.

    Manu Bender01/25/2021 at 21:59 0 comments

    This is the first prototype, to give Aluminium bending and tolerances a try. Also ordered 3 different materials for the cover. Denim, and two types of faux Leather.

    Read more »

  • How the Idea found me.

    Manu Bender01/25/2021 at 21:44 0 comments

    The Idea (Storytime):

    came to me after i returned from India where i had been traveling there on foot, Train and Motorbike from North to South and back. Around March 2020 I was spending my time with new friends in Rishikesh, one of whom got really sick, right when COVID really started in India. We questioned bringing her to the Hospital but couldnt really tell, no doctors to find and the medicine shops gave us wrong or fake antibiotics, wich didn't help. So, during that time we had the need for a thermometer but couldn't find any after searching whole Tapovan. Her condition worstened, so we brought her, masked up and evading the doctors in the entrances, who were to trying to test all the "Covid Tourists". And found out after the usual India chaos, that she had a bladder infection. 
    She stayed there 4 days, we visited.

    That gave me this idea, what if I could build a thing that had say, a Powerbank a Lamp, Temperature and HeartRate monitor. We definitely wouldn't have been so clueless and not aware of the danger that she had been in. Our friend got slowly better with the help of antibiotics and right after we had to leave from Delhi for Germany with the last Government chartered ariplane, wich we almost missed.

    Back in germany i Started planning. Very little know how about machining coding etc. but i"m getting there, slowly but surely.
    Going through all the available arduino sensors and now looking into industrial sensors.
    Getting into deep rabbitholes about for example thermal conductivity of aluminium vs copper variants.
    Trying to add functionality into every last square mm while keeping it 'minimal'.

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Esteban wrote 04/26/2021 at 13:38 point

Genius design and great idea!

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Manu Bender wrote 04/26/2021 at 13:58 point

thanks man!

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setCREATE wrote 04/25/2021 at 20:31 point

Really cool Idea! For the controller chip, have you thought of using an MC60 module? it has the SD Card, GPS, GSM, and many other features already on itself, it can save you a lot of space.

also, does this thing have a sleep mode? for like expanding the battery life to some crazy amount of time?

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Manu Bender wrote 04/25/2021 at 21:09 point

hey thanks, good suggestion! i have not seen that particular model yet, but i have considered similar modules. It is almost the perfect solution for this (plus would add GSM), but i think after the arduino phase i'm going to go one step better and design a custom pcb in the perfect hex shape with those components and better power management, i'm still pretty limited by my expertise, though. 

But next up is finishing the prototype as i have it, to test functionality, usability and feasibility.

sleep and power-saving modes are already implemented for the esp32 and most of the sensors (the ones that have an easy sleep/power-off mode in the code). Toggling deepSleep via html app and then working off of the RTC and ULP timer with configurable wakeup/sleep times. I (very loosely) estimate the battery life to be over 4 weeks on low-power/deepSleep mode with interval logging, probably longer (if its not used for device charging or lights)

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setCREATE wrote 04/26/2021 at 06:00 point

That's great, keep it going.

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