Chief Wahoo

Graphing sensor data with Python

Doing the library dance to draw graphs of what’s going on inside the box whilst writing as little of my own code as possible.


To cook up a graph like the one above, the ingredients are as follows:

  • lm-sensors: Standard issue C library for gathering information from the hardware.
  • Py3Sensors: Python bindings for the above, making the C routines available at a higher-level.
  • SQLAlchemy: I don’t touch a database without it.
  • Pandas: Magic library for all sorts of data-munging tasks. Here we just use it to resample timeseries data and interpret annotated Numpy arrays.
  • SciPy: Giant, high-performace library for doing science. It’s only used here for the Butterworth filter.
  • Graph-rendering service. A touch prettier than vanilla matplotlib.

The final blend of the ingredients above is available on GitHub, what follows is some brief documentation.

Setting up

Because the idea of this project was to write as little code as possible, the dependencies are heavy. The associated virtualenv is over 300Mb on my box, you have been warned.

First, install lm-sensors. It's available from the Ubuntu repositories.

Clone the repo mentioned above. If you don’t have them already, set the Python deps to install. Go away and make a cup of tea, it will take a while.

You'll also need sqlite, unless you intend to use a more serious database.

$ git clone
$ cd lm-graphs
$ pip install -r requirements.txt


Recording some data

We can’t draw a graph without any data, so let’s take some readings to play with. The script is set up to create tables for the classes that Py3Sensors exposes. The table below roughly shows how code maps to the schema:

code                  | schema
Chip                  | Chip
Feature               | Sensor
Feature.get_value()   | Reading

Once the tables are in place, lm-sensors will be polled every second and the table of Reading objects will begin to be populated. Go and make another cup of tea at let it gather some data.



Now the exciting part, drawing some graphs! Register with and go through the setup stuff. They let us just chuck data up and draw graphs from it.

Just like snowflakes, all computers are different. You need to figure out which sensors you have available and which of those you interested in. Run sensors in your terminal and you’ll get some output like this:

Adapter: ISA adapter
in0:          +2.81 V  (min =  +0.84 V, max =  +1.45 V)  ALARM
in1:          +2.83 V  (min =  +2.41 V, max =  +2.56 V)  ALARM
in2:          +0.83 V  (min =  +0.24 V, max =  +0.25 V)  ALARM
+3.3V:        +3.31 V  (min =  +5.69 V, max =  +1.58 V)  ALARM
in4:          +1.54 V  (min =  +0.61 V, max =  +2.00 V)
in5:          +2.51 V  (min =  +1.78 V, max =  +0.92 V)  ALARM
in6:          +1.73 V  (min =  +1.91 V, max =  +1.26 V)  ALARM
3VSB:         +5.09 V  (min =  +5.23 V, max =  +3.12 V)  ALARM
Vbat:         +3.34 V
fan1:        2419 RPM  (min =   80 RPM)
fan2:        1220 RPM  (min =   15 RPM)
fan3:           0 RPM  (min =   10 RPM)  ALARM
temp1:        +32.0°C  (low  = -124.0°C, high = -51.0°C)  ALARM  sensor = thermistor
temp2:        +26.0°C  (low  = +104.0°C, high = -87.0°C)  ALARM  sensor = thermistor
temp3:       -128.0°C  (low  = +16.0°C, high = +49.0°C)  sensor = disabled
intrusion0:  OK

Adapter: PCI adapter
power1:       80.10 W  (crit = 125.19 W)

Adapter: PCI adapter
temp1:        +21.1°C  (high = +70.0°C)
                       (crit = +90.0°C, hyst = +87.0°C)

From this output we can see which sensors are disabled or not giving any readings (see temp3 and fan3 on the ISA adapter). We can also see that the fan, voltage and temperature sensors are for different types of information won’t make sense graphed together.

In the graph at the top of the post, I graphed temp1 and temp2 from the ISA adapter and temp1 from the PCI adapter.

The script is set up to render a graph for a selection of sensors referenced by ID. You can see which IDs got assigned to which sensor by querying the database directly:

$ sqlite3 lm-sqla.db 'select id, chip, label from sensor;'

Grab the IDs for the sensor you want to graph and replace in the script and run it. It will spit out a URL to a graph. Presto!