good robots do what they're told

Home Brew Temperature Logger

Using a Raspberry Pi Zero, some cheap components and some custom software, you can build a data logger to track ambient temperature in your home for around £10. Track days, weeks and months worth of temperature data and display some pretty graphs via the web.

'The "temperature machine" in action'

Order list

Item Price
Raspberry Pi Zero £ 4
SanDisk 8GB microSDHC memory card £ 4
2.54mm Header strip £ 0.89
DS18B20 1-Wire temperature sensor £ 1.45
1 x 4.7k Ω resistor £ 0.10
Some jumper wires or otherwise recycled wires with connectors £ 0.97
Data logging software FREE
Total £ 11.41

Optional extras You might also want to consider a USB Wifi adapter (about £ 6), a case (I like the one from Switched On Components at £ 3.80) and a USB to TTL serial connection for headless setup. Something with a PL2302TA chip in it like this module or the Adafruit console cable.

Setup the Hardware

Connecting the temperature sensor to the Pi is straight forward. There a loads of tutorials on the web but you’re looking to connect the following physical pins on the Pi to the following sensor connectors.

Physical Pi Pin Description DS18b20 Connector
1 3.3v Power Power (red)
7 GPIO 4 Data (yellow)
9 Ground Ground (black)

The other thing you’ll need to do is connect the 4.7k Ω resistor between the power and data lines. This acts as a pull-up resistor to ensure that the Pi knows that the data line starts in a “high” state. Without it, it can’t tell if it should start as high or low; it would be left floating.

Setup the Pi

Make sure you have the following line in your /boot/config.txt. It will load the GPIO 1-wire driver and any attached temperature sensor should be automatically detected.


On the sensor itself, temperature measurements are stored in an area of memory called the “scratchpad”. If everything is connected ok, the contents of the scratchpad will be written to a file under /sys/bus/w1/devices/28-xxx/w1_slave (where xxx will be a HEX number unique to your sensor). Here’s an example from my w1_slave file.

4b 01 4b 46 7f ff 05 10 d8 : crc=d8 YES
4b 01 4b 46 7f ff 05 10 d8 t=20687

The temperature is shown as the t value; 20.687 °C in this case. The scratchpad allows you to program the sensor as well as read temperature data from it. See the data sheet or the project’s documentation for more details (including how to change the precision of the sensor).

Once you can see the w1_slave file, you’re ready to install the data logging software.

Setup the Data Logging Software

There are lots of options to record the temperature data but for something a bit different, the temperature-machine software logs temperatures from multiple sensors on multiple Pi’s. It sends the data to a nominated “server” Pi and the server stores it all in a round robin database and serves up the charts via a web page.

It’s written in Scala and you’ll need the sbt tool to build it. To setup sbt follow these steps.

$ cd /usr/local/bin
$ sudo wget
$ sudo chown pi sbt-launch.jar
$ sudo chgrp pi sbt-launch.jar

Create a file /usr/local/bin/sbt (change the owner and group as above) and paste the following in (take note that the max memory is set to 512 MB for the Pi Zero). Change the owner and group as above.

SBT_OPTS="-Xms512M -Xmx512M"
java $SBT_OPTS -jar `dirname $0`/sbt-launch.jar "$@"

Then make it executable.

chmod u+x /usr/local/bin/sbt

Once you’ve setup SBT, clone the data logger’s Git repository and build the binary.

$ mkdir ~/code
$ git clone ~/code/temperature-machine
$ cd ~/code/temperature-machine
$ sbt assembly

Then run from the project folder with the following.

$ ./

The data will be stored in ~/.temperature and you can access the web page via your internal network with something like Get you’re IP address on the Pi with hostname -I.

Add Multiple Machines

Running will start up the app in “server” single-machine mode. It will start logging data and serve the web page but not expect any more machines to be sending it data. To support multiple machines, you need to do a little more configuration.

Due to the way round robin databases work, you need to say upfront how many machines you want to connect. It will support up to five sensors per machine. So the first thing is to start up the server specifying the hostname of each machine. To do this, you can use the script instead of

./ bedroom garage

In this example, I changed the hostname of each machine to the room they’re situated in. If you already have data in ~/.temperature, you’ll have to manually delete the contents first (rm ~/.temperature/*). It will start up in the server and log data sent from machines named bedroom and garage. Make sure the hostname of the machine you run this from is included in the list.

The next job is to run the client version on each machine, so if garage is my server, I’d run the following on the bedroom machine. Ensure this machine’s hostname matches what you setup on the server (i.e. bedroom).


The server broadcasts it’s IP address, so any clients should automatically detect where the server is and start sending data to it.

Add Multiple Sensors

The 1-wire protocol allows you to chain multiple sensors, so each Pi can have any number of sensors attached. The software automatically supports up to five sensors. Connect them to your Pi and restart and they’ll be automatically detected and included in the charts.

I found soldering a bunch of sensor wires together along with the resistor a bit tricky so I put together a simple PCB to allow me to chain them without soldering.

Start Logging Automatically

There are different ways to start software automatically after a reboot. I chose to add the following to /etc/rc.local on the server.

su pi -c 'cd /home/pi/code/temperature-machine && ./ garage bedroom &'

and the following to the client.

su pi -c 'cd /home/pi/code/temperature-machine && ./ &'

It will run the startup scripts as the user pi and assumes you’ve cloned the code as above (to /home/pi/code/temperature-machine). After rebooting, you should see a log file and pid file in the same location.

To stop, just run the script.

Do Not Disturb

If you’re monitoring temperatures in a bedroom, you might not want to be disturbed by the LEDs. To switch the Pi Zero LED off, see the Raspberry Pi Forum and Stack Overflow and to switch an Edimax EW-7811 LED off, see my previous post.

Over to you...