Echo, Meet Mycroft

The Amazon Echo is an attempt to usher in a new product category. A box that listens to you and obeys your wishes. Sort of like Siri or Google Now for your house. Kickstarter creator [Joshua Montgomery] likes the idea, but he wants to do it all Open Source with a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino.

The Kickstarter (which reached its funding goal earlier this month) claims the device will use natural language to access media, control IoT devices, and will be open both for hardware and software hacking. The Kickstarter page says that Mycroft has partnerships with Lucid and Canonical (the people behind Ubuntu). In addition, they have added stretch goals to add computer vision and Linux desktop control to Mycroft.

Continue reading “Echo, Meet Mycroft”

A Single-Chip Video Game Console

Ready to feel inadequate with your programming skills? You’ve been warned. Take a look at [Voja’s] single chip video game console using the PIC24. It produces the VGA signal, 5-channel sound, and is presented in a gamepad form-factor with directional pad and two buttons.

He’s been working with PIC24 for a while now generating VGA signals, and he decided it might be fun to create a 2D video game… so he decided to see if he could program a replica of the old Spectrum game Jumping Jack (play it online here).

It uses a PIC24EP512GP202 microcontroller, complete with 512K flash memory, 48k data, and a whopping 28-pins. The game, which is extremely well documented, is laid out over on his projects page. It makes our heads spin just looking at it! This is a great project to compare with the ArduinoCade from last week. Both do an amazing job of pumping out audio and video while leaving enough room for the game to actually run.

Anyway, enough talking about it — just take a look at the following demo!

Continue reading “A Single-Chip Video Game Console”

Controlling Mains Power Rube Goldberg Style

[g3gg0] has some nice radio equipment including an AOR AR-5000 receiver and a HiQ SDR. They are so nice that it appears they lack an on/off switch. [g3gg0] grew tired of unplugging the things, and decided to nerdify his desk with a switch that would turn his setup on and off for him. He decided to accomplish this task by emulating the Scroll, Number and Caps Lock LEDs on his keyboard via a Digispark board. He uses the LEDs to issue commands to the Digispark allowing him to control a 5V relay, which sits between it and the AC.

Starting off with some USB keyboard emulation code on the Digispark, he tweaked it so he could use the Scroll Lock LED as sort of a Chip Select. Once this is pressed, he can use the Caps Lock and the Number Lock LED to issue commands to the Digispark.

It’s programmed to only stay on for a total of 5 hours in case he forgets to turn it off. Let us know what you think about this interesting approach.

Quick Keyboard Hack to Control Heavy Loads

When you want to control an external device (like a lamp) from your computer, you might reach for a USB enabled micro. Looking for an inexpensive and quick option to control two lamps [Pete] wanted to control a couple 12 volt halogen lamps, he reached for his keyboard and used a little bit of python.

Desktop PC keyboards have 3 LED’s indicating lock functions, hardly anyone uses the scroll lock, and on a laptop with no keypad, numlock is no big loss as well. Adding wires to the little PCB out of a USB keyboard the numlock and scroll lock LED’s 5 volt output was redirected to a switching circuit.

That switching circuit takes the output of either LED, inverts it with a PNP transistor, then connects to the gate of a FQP30N06L, “logic level” mosfet transistor to handle the heavy lifting. Once the wiring is in place a fairly simple Python script can take over turning on and off the two chosen lock keys, giving  control of up to 32 amps with the touch of a button.

Simplest Electricity Monitoring Solution Yet

Monitoring your home’s energy use is the best way to get a handle on your utility bills. After all, you can’t manage what you can’t measure! The only problem is that most home energy monitoring systems are cumbersome, complicated, or expensive. At least, until now. [Kevin] has created a new electricity meter based on Particle Photons which should alleviate all of these problems.

The Particle Photon (we get confused on the naming scheme but believe this the new version of what used to be called the Spark Core) is a WiFi-enabled development board. [Kevin] is using two, one to drive the display and one to monitor the electricity usage. This part is simple enough, each watt-hour is accompanied by a pulse of an LED on the meter which is picked up by a TLS257 light-to-voltage sensor. The display is a Nextion TFT HMI (touch screen) which is pretty well suited for this application. The data is corralled by emoncms, part of the OpenEnergyMonitor platform, which ties everything together.

For a project that has been done more than a few times, this one does a great job of keeping the price down while maintaining a great aesthetic. Make sure to check out the video below to see it in action.

Continue reading “Simplest Electricity Monitoring Solution Yet”

Hack Puts Aging Sprinkler System Online

Water conservation is on a lot of people’s mind, and with an older sprinkler system one may not have the finest control of when and where the lawn is getting its water. Faced with such a system [Felix] decided to hack into his, adding better computerized scheduling, and internet remote control.

The brains of the operation is handled by a Moteino, which is a Arduino compatible micro controller board with WiFi on board. In order to interface with the sprinkler system, an interface PCB is made. The interface has an on board buck power supply to regulate the 24 volt AC power of the sprinkler down to 5 volt DC for the micro and the 74HC595 shift registers.

The output from the shift registers connects to a pin header where the stock computer normally would have plugged in. With a little software and a phone app, the new micro-controller takes over the sprinkler’s TRIAC’s turning on and off zones with a push of the thumb.

Join us after the break for a quick demonstration video.

Continue reading “Hack Puts Aging Sprinkler System Online”

Upgrading Your Alarm System With an Arduino

When [Doug] moved into his new house, he found an old alarm panel set up — but it had no monitoring service any more. Not wanting to pay a monthly fee to have it setup, he decided to try interfacing an Arduino with the system in order to push events to the net!

The cool thing is he was actually inspired by another similar project we shared on Hackaday a few years ago entitled Bending a Home Security Control Panel to Your Will. But that project only showed you how to interface the Arduino with the keypad — [Doug] went the extra mile and interfaced directly with the control board for more features.

He’s using an Arduino Uno and an Ethernet breakout board to hook it up to the network. This allows him to send text messages to himself when the alarm system is armed, disarmed, or triggered. All the code is available on GitHub in case you also have a DSC 1550 alarm system.

It’s a pretty slick hack, so don’t forget to check out the video after the break.

Continue reading “Upgrading Your Alarm System With an Arduino”