Photon Remote Temperature Sensor

Contributors: jenfoxbot
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Phant is No Longer in Operation

Unfortunately Phant, our data-streaming service, is no longer in service. The system has reached capacity and, like a less-adventurous Cassini, has plunged conclusively into a fiery and permanent retirement. There are several other maker-friendly, data-streaming services and/or IoT platforms available as alternatives. The three we recommend are Blynk, ThingSpeak, and Cayenne. You can read our blog post on the topic for an overview and helpful links for each platform. The code in this tutorial will need to be adjusted to work with the other data streams.

The scientific method allows us to examine the universe and its natural phenomena. Through collection and analysis of data, we discover historical trends to make predictions about future events. One such phenomenon that greatly impacts our daily, and long-term, lives is temperature. This tutorial shows you how to build your own remote temperature sensor that automatically uploads data to the web service. This is a perfect, hands-on project for teaching, or learning, the difference between daily temperature fluctuations and average temperature over time, a particularly crucial distinction when discussing climate change.

This system uses the Particle Photon as the control device, a handy lil' microcontroller that easily connects to WiFi. The Photon reads in temperature data from the SparkFun TMP102 digital temperature sensor, then uploads the data to a web server for remote data acquisition and, if desired, subsequent analysis and plotting.

finished system enclosed

For all you visual learners, check out a video of the project below:


To follow along with this project at home, you'll need the following:


Here's a wish list of most of the parts mentioned above for your convenience.

Casing and Installation

  • For electronics: Project box or waterproof tupperwear

    There are tons of options for cases, just be sure it is durable, waterproof, and not made of metal (will block the WiFi signal).

  • Stand for solar panel (e.g. metal post, garden sign, plant holder, tripod, etc.)

    While a stand is somewhat optional, it allows you to point the panel towards the sun and adjust it throughout the year to obtain maximum incident solar radiation. Check out your local thriftstore for inexpensive items to use as a stand. Be sure the stand and attached panel will withstand the elements (including wind). Alternatively, you can attach the solar panel directly to the temperature sensor case.


Recommended Reading

The goal of this tutorial is to give you enough information to get your remote temperature sensor up and running as quickly as possible, regardless of your background and experience with the components used in this project. As such, this tutorial provides only a brief mention of the underlying hardware and software elements. Check out the guides below for more in-depth information, including the I2C communication protocol used by the TMP102 sensor and the Phant library used by the web service.