Internet of Things toilet

There are many things that happen in my bathroom which I wish to keep private. But over at Instructables, member e024576 (about whom all we know is that he’s male and aged 59 – judging by the accent he uses in the video below when he runs out of loo-roll, he’s also from somewhere in the lower half of the USA) has been able to power through any bathroom-related shame to work out what toilet events can be usefully hooked up to the cloud without causing any personal embarrassment, all with the potential for making your toilet experience smoother, more environmentally friendly and less fraught with worry that the paper might have run out.

Why? Because he can.

Flushed with success

Flushed with success

I still wouldn’t use e024576’s loo, but that’s just me.

e024576 says:

How does it work? – An aquarium liquid level sensor float switch detects toilet tank level; flushing lowers the level closing the switch. A photo cell located in socket (blind hole) of the toilet paper holder spindle mounting arm detects when the spindle is removed to change out the toilet paper (letting light hits the photo cell, thus “closing the switch”).

Signals from these two sensors are sent (wirelessly – despite what the intro photo implies) via a hacked two button key fob; that is, sensor switch closure effectively pushes a button. A 315 MHz receiver module connected to a Raspberry Pi receives switch closure signals.

The Raspberry Pi, using Python API gspread, transmits the event data to Google Drive spreadsheet.

See system layout image.

How hard and how much $ ? – Assuming you already have a Raspberry Pi, and you know how to load and run Python programs, and can build basic electronic circuits – this is pretty easy & quite inexpensive (< $40) IoT (Internet of Things) project.

Why do this? – (1) To explore IoT on the cheap, and (2) because I can.

Here at Pi Towers, everybody is shouting about their own improvements to the system – which start with working out how to signal that the toilet paper is about to run out *before* it actually does. Someone who will not be named suggests encouraging the saving of water with a display that flashes “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” And we think that electrifying the handle would be a great prank – combined with OpenCV, perhaps, so the toilet could give out worse shocks to people whom it doesn’t like. The possibilities are endless.

If, for no particular reason I can make out, you want to try to emulate this project yourself, you can find full instructions over at Instructables. Thanks e024576 – if you get in touch to let us know what your real name is, we’ll add it to this post!

28 Comments