After reading this article on using Edge DX’s database and how we can store additional data in it, I thought that I would see if I could use Edge DX to store environmental data obtained from a sensor attached to a VDI client in my computer lab. In this article, I will walk you through how I used an inexpensive VDI client, attached an external sensor, and used Edge DX to store and retrieve that data.
I have a Raspberry Pi (RPi) based VDI client that I use in my lab, and before delving into the Edge DX aspect of this article, a little background information on RPis would be helpful.
Developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, RPis are fascinating devices as they are low-cost, Arm-based single-board computers (SBCs) that range in price from $5 to $80. For $5, you get an RPi Zero with a single-core Arm processor and 512MB of RAM. On the upper end, you can get an RPi 4 B+ with a quad-core Arm processor, 8GB of RAM, Bluetooth, and wired and wireless Ethernet for connectivity. For this article, I will use one in the middle of the range: the RPi 3 B+, which has a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, wired and wireless Ethernet, and retails for $35.
What is essential to understand for this article is that RPis was developed to give students a hands-on device to learn basic computer science. For this reason, they have a very open and expandable architecture with a 40-Pin GPIO Header that allows sensors to connect to them. I used the GPIO to attach a temperature and humidity sensor to the RPi using three GPIO pins. You can read more about how I did this in my Virtualization & Cloud Review article.
The sensor, a DHT22, costs $6 and can transmit data every 2 seconds, and below are its specifications:
|+/- 2° C
|+/- 2-5% RH
RPis have a passionate following, and many people and companies have created code and code libraries for their interfaces to them. To gather information from the device, I used the DHT Python library developed by Adafruit. Then I modified a sample program from Adafruit to collect data from the DHT22 to report the temperature and humidity. You can obtain the sample program from my GitHub repository.
Below is a sample of the output from my code:
Once I had the RPi set up with a sensor and the code to read the sensor, I could begin integrating it with Edge DX. My end goal was to write the data to the Edge DX database, but first, I wanted to execute the script in Edge DX and see the output under the Device Events tab.
To do this, I needed to put the output between ### SIP EVENT BEGINS ### and ### SIP EVENT ENDS ### statements. When I ran the script, this is the output that I saw:
At this point, I had to decide whether to keep the Python code on the RPi or bring it up to my Edge DX script library to store it.
If I moved my Python code up to my Edge DX script library, I could run it on any device in my environment; however, to prevent it from inadvertently running on devices not equipped with a DHT22 sensor, I opted to keep it on the local device.
I still wanted to execute the code from Edge DX, so I created a two-line Bash script on Edge DX to run it called TempHum_v01 that contained the following lines of code
You can read this article for more information on scripting in Edge DX.
I then executed the script in Edge DX by selecting the script under the Actions drop-down menu.
The output in Device Events was as expected.
I wanted to write the output to the Edge DX’s database to have a permanent record. I can use this data for trending and correlation purposes; if the servers in my lab went down, I could use it to determine if it was temperature related. To do this, I needed to wrap the output between ### SIP DATA BEGINS ### and ### SIP DATA ENDS ### and write the output in a JSON format, so I used the Python json.dumps() function from the jsonlib module. Below is what the output looked like when I ran the script from the command line:
I then modified my script in Edge DX to write to the database by selecting the Sends Data checkbox and entering a name (i.e., EnvTempHum) in the Data Index text box. I didn’t need to include a timestamp for the data or the device it came from, as it was automatically created when the script ran.
The output was also written to Device Events, as I kept both the SIP EVENT and the new SIP DATA codes.
I selected Data from the Configuration drop-down menu to see the database’s data.
I then selected the envtemphum from the list of indexes. Keen observers will notice that I entered EnvTempHum on the text field, but Edge DX converted it to lowercase.
I selected the columns that I wanted to display from the index schema.
I had no intention of running the script manually every time I wanted to collect the data, so I went back to the script and, from the Trigger drop-down menu, changed it from Custom Action to Long Interval Timer.
My long interval was currently set to every 600 seconds or 10 minutes, so I changed it to every 1800 seconds or 30 minutes. You can see what your timers are set to and change them by going to Configuration > Settings > Agent > Long Trigger Interval (seconds).
After a few days, I examined the data again and saw that it did collect the data every 30 minutes.
I then created a report to pull the data whenever I wanted.
It occurred to me that I didn’t want to constantly keep an eye on my reports to detect when my lab got too cold, hot, or humid, so I created an alert to email me when the temperature got above 85°F or below 50°F below, or if the humidity became greater than 70%.
To create the alert, I selected Alerts from the Configuration drop-down menu and then selected Add Alert.
In the alert wizard, I selected envtemphum from the Data Index drop-down menu and then specified the temperature and humidity conditions that would trigger an email alert. It should be noted that the conditions are ANDed together, so I needed to set up three different alerts to check for each condition.
Now I am emailed when the lab has an issue.
Once I had this solution, a coworker asked me about setting up a pure monitoring solution for their lab as they didn’t have a VDI client in their lab. I suggested we use a RPI Zero 2 for only $15. With the sensor, it came to $21!
The Zero 2 W has a quad-core Arm processor, so he has some exciting plans to use its excess CPU and IO capacity for other lab-related activities, such as using an electronic relay hooked up to it to remotely boot one of a server that he only uses occasionally. He also found he could use other Edge DX features, such as remote rebooting with RPi’s.
I will be the first to admit that the above is a tortured example of using the Edge DX database. Still, I do think that it points out a few sanguine points about Edge DX: it is effortless to write additional data to its database, and even if the data is collected from non-traditional sources (i.e., if it can be acquired from a device, it can be written to the database); it is easy to create a report from any data; and finally, that data can be used to set off alarms when they reach specific thresholds.