Broadcasting Bluetooth Beacons With Bubbles

Bluetooth beacons have only been around for a few years, but the draw is incredible. With Bluetooth beacons, your phone is location aware, even with location services are turned off. They’re seen in fast food joints, big box retailers, and anywhere else there’s a dollar to be made. [Nemik] has been working on a home automation project, and came up with a use for Bluetooth beacons that might actually be useful. It’s a WiFi-based Bluetooth beacon notifier that scans the area for beacons and forwards them to an MQTT server.

[Nemik]’s ‘Presence Detector’ for Bluetooth advertisements is actually a surprisingly simple build, leveraging the unbelievably cheap wireless modules available to us today. The WiFi side of the equation is a NodeMCU v2 ESP8266 dev board that provides all the smarts for the device via Lua scripting. The Bluetooth side of the board is a PTR5518 module that has a nRF51822 tucked inside. With the right configuration, this small board will listen for BLE advertisements and forward them to an MQTT server where they can be seen by anyone on the network.

[Nemik] is selling these beacon to WiFi bridges, but in the spirit of Open Hardware, he’s also giving away the designs and firmware so you can make your own. If you ever have an abundance of Bluetooth beacons sitting around and want to make a beacons of Things thing, this is the build for it.

Minimal MQTT: Networked Nodes

Last time on Minimal MQTT, we used a Raspberry Pi to set up an MQTT broker — the central hub of a home data network. Now it’s time to add some sensor and display nodes and get this thing running. So pull out your ESP-8266 module of choice, and let’s get going.

DSCF8443For hardware, we’re using a WeMos D1 Mini because they’re really cute, and absolutely dirt cheap, but basically any ESP module will do. For instance, you can do the same on the simplest ESP-01 module if you’ve got your own USB-serial adapter and are willing to jumper some pins to get it into bootloader mode. If you insist on a deluxe development board that bears the Jolly Wrencher, we know some people.

NodeMCU: Getting the Firmware

We’re using the NodeMCU firmware because it’s quick and easy to get running. But you’re not stuck with NodeMCU if you want to go it alone: MQTT has broad support. [TuanPM] ported over an MQTT library to the native ESP8266 SDK and of course there’s espduino, a port for an Arduino-plus-ESP combo. He also ported the MQTT module to NodeMCU that we’ll be using today. Thanks, [TuanPM]!

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Audio-coupled Smoke Alarm Interface Sends Texts, Emails

The Internet of Things is getting to be a big business. Google’s Nest brand is part of the trend, and they’re building a product line that fills niches and looks good doing it, including the Nest Protect smoke and CO detector. It’s nice to get texts and emails if your smoke alarm goes off, but if you’d rather not spend $99USD for the privilege, take a look at this $10 DIY smoke alarm interface.

The secret to keeping the cost of [Team SimpleIOThings’] interface at a minimum is leveraging both the dirt-cheap ESP8266 platform and the functionality available on If This Then That. And to keep the circuit as simple and universal as possible, the ESP8266 dev board is interfaced to an existing smoke detector with a simple microphone sensor. From what we can see it’s just a sound level sensor, and that should work fine with the mic close to the smoke detector. But with high noise levels in your house, like those that come with kids and dogs, false alarms might be an issue. In that case, we bet the software could be modified to listen for the Temporal-Three pattern used by most modern smoke detectors. You could probably even add code to send a separate message for a CO detector sounding a Temporal-Four pattern.

Interfacing to a smoke detector is nothing new, as this pre-ESP8266 project proves. But the versatile WiFi SoC makes interfaces like this quick and easy projects.

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We’re Giving out 125 Teensy-LC Boards this Week

This week we’re giving away 125 Teensy-LC Boards. You’ve sat on the sidelines long enough. Time to write down your Hackaday Prize idea and get it entered!

It isn’t just the big prize (a trip into space) on the line. Each week we’re giving away things to help your build. Below you can see the 50 projects which won a LightBlue Bean from last week’s giveaway. This week it’s a huge number of Teensy-LC boards going out to those who need them. These little wonders pack a real punch, with a 48 MHz ARM Cortex-M0+ that has 62K of flash, 8k of RAM, plenty of IO and a 12-bit analog module for both input and output! You’ll also be eligible for each of the future weekly giveaways… we’re distributing $50,000 in prizes to hundreds of projects over 17-weeks!

Entering is easy. Write down your idea to help solve a problem faced by a wide range of people. Start fleshing out your build plan. Pictures are a huge help, even if they’re just a hand-drawn sketch on some paper! Your best bet at getting recognized for a giveaway is to post a new project log which mentions how you would add this Teensy board to your creation.

Last Week’s 50 Winners of a LightBlue Bean


Congratulations to these 50 projects who were selected as winners from last week. You will receive a LightBlue Bean which combines Bluetooth LE with an ATmega328 in a nice little package ready for prototyping. Don’t forget to post pictures and information about what you build with these little wonders!

Each project creator will find info on redeeming their prize as a message on

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Achievement Unlocked: Global Virtual Hackerspace

We’ve been riding the runaway train that is for about fourteen months. With over 60k registered user and  hundreds of thousands of visitors a month it’s hard to remember how we got from humble beginnings to where we stand now. But a big part of this is all the suggestions we’ve been hearing from you. On the top of that list have been numerous requests for more collaborative features. This week we’ve pushed an update that will change the way you interact with your fellow hackers.


This brand new messaging interface is beyond what we dreamed when we started development. Our goal with Hackaday has long been to form the Virtual Hackerspace, and this is it. Shown above is group messaging for the project. You can see that thread selected on the left among many other threads in progress. On the right is the list of the team collaborators. Each project on has group messaging availalbe, all you need to do is add your collaborators.

group-messagig-buttonNeed skills that you don’t have to finish the project? Just want to brainstorm the next big project? Jump on and get into it. Head over to one of your projects, invite some collaborators if you don’t already have them, and click the “Group Messaging” button in the left column.

This is not private messaging and it’s not just chat. This is new. It’s persistent, it’s instant, it’s long, it’s short, it is what you need to work with other hackers. We don’t even know what to call it yet. You can help with that and you can tell us what you find to do with it. We’ve designed it for creative abuse.

Configurable Notifications

When loading up the message page for the first time you’ll see a bar across the top requesting desktop notification access. This feature gives you a pop-up message when the tab with the messaging interface is not active.

If you don’t have the interface open you will receive an email when new messages come in. This can be toggled globally for all of your chats but we do have plans to configure these emails per-chat thread. Thanks to [jlbrian7] for the tip that users of Firefox on Linux need an extension to enable notifications. I’m using Chrome on Mint and it work just fine without adding packages.

Dude, Mobile

Screenshot_2015-04-21-16-57-07This Virtual Hackerspace goes with you and we’re not just talking out of the house. How many times have you been sitting at the bench wondering what the heck you’re doing wrong? Whip out your phone, snap a picture and post it so the collaborators on your team can help out. Right now it’s rock-solid on iPhone. Android requires a very quick double-tap on the image icon to trigger but we’ll have that fixed in a jiffy.

Of course images work from the computer interface as well, and there’s a code tool to embed snippets in your messages.

Team Invites and Requests

The only part we don’t have working is the ability to talk to yourself but that is coming. For now you must have collaborators to enable group messaging and this update makes that simple.

Each project has a team list in the left hand column. You’ll notice that a text box has been added to invite members. Just type their hacker name and click the invite button. They’ll get a private message with instructions for accepting your invitation.

Give it a Spin Right Now

We’ve set up the official Hackaday Prize Hacker Channel so that you can try it out right away. Casual conversation is welcome, but this is also a great opportunity to find team members for your Hackaday Prize entry. We’ll also be hosting regular events on the channel. More on that soon!

Hackaday Links: March 22, 2015

[Liam Kennedy] built a wearable space station notifier it’s on Kickstarter, and now the campaign is in its final hours. It’s very cool; doubly so if you don’t have to talk to a crazy lady who doubts the existence of NASA.

[countkillalot] lost a Raspberry Pi. It was in his apartment, and responded to ping, but he couldn’t find it. Turning the Pi into an FM transmitter revealed its location. Relevant

If you don’t listen to the Amp Hour podcast, oh man are you in for a treat. This time it’s [Chuck Peddle], father of the 6502, designer of the KIM-1, and someone with at least three hours’ worth of interesting stories.

MakeIt Labs, the Nashua, New Hampshire hackerspace, has done everything right – they have their 501(c)(3), and they’ve been talking to the city about getting a new space. They have the option of moving into a space three times the size as their current one, and it’s cheaper than the current space. They have an indiegogo to raise the renovation funds for the new space. Oh, supports pages for hackerspaces. Just pointing that out.

Speaking of hackerspaces, yours needs this sign.

A 3-DAY DESERT CAMPING AND TECH-FEST WITH BEER. That’s all you need to know about Arduino Day, an event being held next weekend in the Mojave.

Want to hide from the NSA, or whatever governments or corporate interests are listening in on your phone? Stick it in a microwave. [WhiskeyTangoHotel] tested out a Tek RSA306 spectrum analyzer in a microwave, once with the door open, once with the door closed. If you’re exceptionally clever or have access to Wikipedia, you can figure out what frequencies will leak out of a microwave given the size of the holes in the metal mesh.

Here’s a Flintstones toilet paper holder. It would have been a phonograph, but no one could find a cooperative turtle and bird.

It has been brought to our attention that everyone should be aware still exists. If you want something that does everything with MIDI and SID chips, there you go.

THP Hacker Bio: Felix Rusu

As far as entries for The Hackaday Prize go, Moteino is exceptionally interesting. It’s the only project to be used in other projects for The Hackaday Prize. The two other projects making use of the Moteino, 433MHz transceiver and Plant Friends didn’t make the cut, but [Felix]’s Moteino did.

Like many of the Internet of Things project, Moteino is a radio module and a microcontroller in an extremely convenient package. The radio is a HopeRF RFM69 operating in the  315, 433, 868 and 915MHz ISM bands. The microcontroller is everyone’s favorite – the ATMega328, but [Felix] also has a Mega version with the ATMega1284 on board. Already there are a few great examples of what the Moteino can do, including a mailbox notifier, a sump pump monitor, and a way to Internetify a water meter.

[Felix]’s bio below.

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