Category Archives: House

Kafka Sharp

The beginning

It all started by Fred George µService Architecture presentation at Öredev (

Looking at the presentation give me one of those moments when I think: This is COOL, where can I use this concept. It have to be an application that produce data continuously. Why not use it for my home data collection and control system? Well it’s not 250k messages per second but it’s a steady stream of data.

So now I have an application to test the concept on. Heading down in the cellar to find a box to run Linux on because the Kafa server run best on Linux. As Linux is my second operation system I have to struggle a bit to get the Kafka service to actually run as a service together with the ZooKeeper service (the configuration service). I decided to go for the latest version at the time 0.8 and that gave me some more work later on, but I will get back to that. When everything was up and running you can start a couple of PuTTy terminals and run commands to set up a topic, produce data and consume it: --zookeeper localhost:2181 --replica 1 --partition 1 --topic kafkatopic --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic kafkatopic –from-beginning

Then in another terminal: --broker-list localhost:9092 --topic kafkatopic

A c# client please

Well this is exiting for a while but there was a project to do. So to connect the data logger, running as a service written in C#, we need a C# client to connect to the bus. There are a Java client implementation bundled with the Kafka packages and there are clients in several languages here

But there are no C# client! I found one at github but it’s written for version 0.7. No problem I start with that code (thanks to that programmer!) and modify it to use Kafka 0.8 protocol. Well the changes between 0.7 and 0.8 was not minor! There is a good description of the protocol at the Apache Kafka wiki . As the work went on I have done a lot of refactoring and large parts of the code is new.

After getting all the code in place I mange to connect to the bus on the Linux box and both produce and consume messages from my c# client, but I haven’t found any way to create a new topic like the do. There is a configuration on the broker to make it auto create a topic but that doesn’t work. OK I have the Java client running, so whay not start up the old reliable WireShark? After some digging in TCP conversations I found out that the Java client made two request for meta data on the topic before it produced on it. The first request returned an error saying that there are no leader broker on this topic but it also trigger a topic creation on the leader broker according to the server log. So the next request tell what leader and which partition the topic can be found on. After changing the producer to do that dance at startup, it work just fine.

First µ-service

At last it was time for a µservice! I decided to pick up data from sensors on the 1-Wire bus and put the data on the Kafka bus. Digging out the 1-Wire bus access code from the old logger (glad I made nice structured code there) and whip up some code to connect it to the Kafka bus resulted in less than 100 lines of code!

private const string TopicName = "OneWireSensor";
static readonly JavaScriptSerializer JavaScriptSerializer = new JavaScriptSerializer();
static readonly KafkaBusConnector BusConnector = new KafkaBusConnector("", 9092, "KafkaConsole");
private const int UsbPortNumber = 1;
static void HandleSensorData(KafkaOneWireData data)
   var message = JavaScriptSerializer.Serialize(data);
   BusConnector.Produce(TopicName, -1, message);
static void Main(string[] args)
   var reader = new OwReader("{DS9490}", "USB" + UsbPortNumber);
   while (!Console.KeyAvailable)

The future

My plan is to build a new logger and control Eco-system based on a couple of µ-services that handle a task like:

  • Read sensor data
  • Process data like averaging and filtering
  • React on a value change and send out a command on the bus
  • React to a command and turn on the floor heating
  • Collect data from the bus and store it in the RRD.
  • Etc.


To be continued….





The House project pt1

Early days

Collecting and storing

Collecting data have always been interesting and there have been several projects for collecting temperatures. It started with a AS3145KT, a small PIC board that read four DS1820 and send the temperature readings on a serial port (yes it was the mid nineties). Temperatures indoor, outdoor, brine (heat exchange pump) and hot water out was monitored. The data was collected by a service running on a Windows NT 4 computer and stored in an Access data base. The Acess db was not that optimal because after about three weeks the database file have grown to about three megs and the service come to a grinding halt, spending all time trying to update the database. It was solved by copying the file and empty the database, but it was a real mess to merge the data together afterwards. Well the MySql real database appeared and after that the data size was not a problem.


Now the presentation was a challenge. Wading through temperature readings with a 10 seconds resolution isn’t nice! So now some data consolidation / compression was needed. Fortunately I discovered RRDTools in time before I manage to do something on my own. An excellent package providing both data consolidation and presentation. BUT it was written in old faithful C. Well it was possible to wrap the program or start it as a process from inside the logger service, but that was to messy.

RRD From C to Java to C# (and back)

After some digging the RRD4J project surfaced but Java was not my first choice. At that time I was a hard dying C++ / C# programmer in the MSDN trenches. Actually I was forced into Java (Java EJB3 on Jboss to be exact) at my assignment so the obvious solution was to port RRD4J to C#! Now RRD4N (.NET) was born and a new logger design started. The port was not optimal and I manage to introduce a nasty bug that showed up years later. I also made an effort to separate the data storing from the presentation, as we where told to do in 2005, but that made the implementation over complicated. Eventually I switched back to Java but that’s another post).

The old logger service was a simple piece of software just listening on the serial port and writing the data to the database every 10 seconds. The fine resolution was needed for the heater hot water return but a waste when it comes to outdoor temperature. It was time for a bit more sophisticated logger. This time it has to be in C# because it’s 2008 and C# is still a preferred language.

To be continued…..