The aREST platform comes with a free cloud server, where you can connect your ESP8266, Arduino or Raspberry Pi projects, and quickly control them from anywhere in the world. On top of that, aREST also comes with a cloud dashboard, that you can use to graphically control devices connected to the aREST cloud.

In this article, you will learn how to use the aREST cloud dashboard to easily create a dashboard to control your devices remotely, from anywhere in the world. As an example device, we'll use a simple ESP8266 WiFi chip connected to an LED. We'll first create an account on the cloud dashboard, and build the hardware part of the project. Then, we'll connect the project to the aREST cloud, and finally we'll see how to create a dashboard to control the project from anywhere in the world. Let's start!


Creating an Account on the Cloud Dashboard

The first step is to create an account on the aREST cloud dashboard, if that's not done yet. It's of course completely free. You can do so by going to:

https://dashboard.arest.io/

On there, you will be able to create an account, and once that's done you should be redirected to the main page where you can find your dashboards:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

Don't create any dashboard yet, we'll do that in a moment. First, we'll assemble our hardware project.

Building the Project

It's now time to actually build the project that we will connect to the aREST cloud. I used an ESP8266 board here, however this would work with any boards that is compatible with aREST. Here are the parts that you will need for this project:

The assembly of the project is very simple: simply place first the ESP8266 WiFi chip on the breadboard. Then, place the LED in series with the resistor, with the longest pin of the LED connected to the resistor. After that, simply connect with some wires the other side of the resistor to pin 5 of the board, and the other side of the LED to the ground pin.

This is the final result:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

Connecting Your Board to the aREST Cloud

We can now actually connect the board to the aREST cloud. The first step, if that's not done yet, is to install the latest version of the Arduino IDE that you can find here:

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software 

Next, you will need to install the aREST library if it is not yet installed. To do that, I recommend following the instructions at:

https://github.com/marcoschwartz/aREST 

Once aREST is installed, you can simply load the sketch inside the aREST examples called "esp8266_cloud.ino". Inside this sketch, you will simply have to modify two things: your WiFi credentials, and also the device ID that will be used to identify the device on the aREST cloud. You have the option to protect your devices with an API key, but as we just want to demonstrate how to dashboard works here we won't use that.

Once the sketch is modified, simply upload it to the board, and it should automatically connect to the aREST cloud.

Creating a Dashboard to Control the LED from Anywhere

It's now time to go back to the aREST cloud dashboard and actually control our device from the cloud. First, create a new dashboard inside the main page:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

After that, navigate into this dashboard, and click on the Edit Mode button. This should allow you to edit the dashboard. The aREST cloud dashboards are organised in rows, columns, and elements. So first, create a simple row using the interface. After that, create a column with 25% width inside this row. Finally, add an element in this column with the following parameters:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

This will basically create a set of two on/off buttons that are linked to this device. Of course, make sure to change the device ID with the one you set in the code. You should already see at this point that the device is online and connected to the cloud.

Once that's done, edit the element to indicate that we want to control pin number 5:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

You can now submit the changes, and also click again on the Edit Mode button to hide the edit mode. This is what you should see:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

It's now time to actually test the dashboard! Simply press the On button, and you should immediately see the LED lighting up on the board:

How To Use the aREST Cloud Dashboard

Note that we never set the pin to be an output here: this was automatically done by the dashboard when we set the buttons to pin number 5. You can of course now add more elements to the dashboard, for example to control other devices or to monitor other boards from the cloud.

I really now invite you to test the aREST dashboard and use it to control & monitor your devices from anywhere in the world. Of course, if you have any questions or comments about the aREST dashboard or aREST in general don't hesitate to leave them below!