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soon post most of the source code as well to run the server.  As noted earlier, it is very simple to create a control server and examples are forthcoming.

November 1, 2011
My latest project is my solar array.  For details on that, visit my solar page.  In the process of developing that, I needed a way to remotely control my array switching between battery storage and potentially direct AC generation using a grid tie inverter.  For a while I looked at setting up some kind of client/server configuration running some kind of operating system but after much thought, this was kind of senseless given the amount of power required to operate a PC in comparison to the power I would potentially be generating.  

A coworker whom I have been sharing my solar project with, shared his home project and introduced me to the Arduino.  The Arduino is a low cost microcontroller.  In researching this board I discovered that the original stated       
goal of this board was to create a very low cost, very easy to use, open-source prototyping platform that was available and usable by anyone from engineer to artist.  Given that many artist (but certainly not all) are not technically inclined, it had to be easy to use and reliable.  One of several boards currently available is shown below.  These boards are based on the ATMEGA328 and include both DIP and surface mount packaging.  See this Arduino page for additional views.

One of the very interest parts about this Arduino is that they are created to be expandable and stackable using what they refer to as Arduino Shields.  The one that attracted my attention was the Ethernet Shield shown below which stacks on top of the Arduino uC board.  Additionally, before I purchased a board, I checked on available SW.

As with any other open-source project, the tools are freely available and can be downloaded from the Arduino Software site.  The compiler is simple and very easy to use, even for a non-programmer.  More importantly, there is ample example code available from a number of sites.  A quick search of code located plenty of samples for both using the main Arduino board and the Ethernet Shield.  The code was simple and easy to read.  So much so that I had my doubts about it working.  But in fact, it does.  If you install the code by the link above, it includes sample code that runs out of the box.  All that you need to make it run is change the code is:

1)  configure your router to assign a fixed IP address to your Arduino board.  My router never seemed to even try and automatically assign one, so I manually set it to  Most routers use the sequence starting at 192.168.0.x but if yours does not, make sure you start using the series your router defaults to.  Pick a number that