First Responder Call-In Using Google Voice


Firefighters and firehouses are not as glamorous as your kindergarten self would lead you to believe. Most firefighters in the US are volunteers, and most firefighters don’t live in the firehouse. Instead of hanging out at the fire house all the time, they use a call-in system that displays a list on a web page saying, ‘Joe is coming to the fire house’ or ‘Jack will meet you at the scene’. It’s highly efficient given the budgets they’re working with, but as [Andy] discovered, this same system can be replicated with Google Voice.

The system relies on a Google Voice account that’s set to have all calls go straight to voicemail. The missed call sends off a voicemail notification to the Gmail inbox, effectively turning the Gmail inbox into a call-in system for free.

In testing, [Andy] noticed the Gmail inbox doesn’t quite refresh fast enough for his purposes, so he whipped up a simple webpage with a little bit of PHP to parse the emails and display everything automatically. The idea being that this webpage could just be displayed on a monitor in the station, waiting for the next call.

Another improvement [Andy] points out could be setting up several numbers, each for different status codes. It’s an astonishing simple system, and now something that can be replicated for free.

Making QR Codes in Google Docs


[Jordi] sent us this great tip on how to generate QR codes inside Google Docs. This can be super handy if you ever need to make a lot of them at one time, plus they update on the fly!

In his example he set up the code to create vCards so he could transfer contacts to his phone quickly and easily. The code pulls in a Google API QR generator and provides you with a QR code as an image! The following is his code, which can be easily modified to suit your needs:

=image("" & A2 & "%20" & B2 & "%0ATEL;CELL:" & C2 & "%0AEMAIL:" & D2 & "%0AEND:VCARD")

Or if you just want the bare bones:

=image("<strong>YOUR CELL</strong>")

And if you need a full walkthrough, there is a video after the break. Those wanting to tinker around with more QR code hijinks will enjoy forming images from QR codes and milling QR codes into your copper layers.

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Alarm clock uses Raspberry Pi to poll Google Calendar


We know a lot of people love using their smart phone as a bedside alarm clock. The problem is that a mobile phone is mobile by nature and eventually you’ll forget to put it in the bedroom one night. That’s why we like the solution that [Devon Bray] has chosen. He set up his Raspberry Pi as an alarm clock that is set using Google Calendar.

The setup which he shows off in his video is quite simple. The Raspberry Pi is connected to a set of powered computer speakers. It plays a song whenever an appointment called “wake” comes up on his Google Calendar. This is accomplished by using the Google Data APIs Python Client Library (isn’t that a mouthful?).

This only scratches the surface of what is possible. With this in place you could easily add LEDs to the room for a sunrise alarm. But if you’d prefer a more bare-bones hardware side of things that’s possible too.

Continue reading “Alarm clock uses Raspberry Pi to poll Google Calendar”

Button automatically tells people to bugger off in Gmail

[Kevin]’s friend is a remarkably helpful engineer, and when his friend gets requests to help out on a few projects he always has a hard time saying no. Really, [Kevin]’s friends’ time is much too valuable to take up many more projects, but saying no to someone will drag you down. To  alieve his friend of the torment of saying no, [Kevin] built an automated Gmail assistant that will automatically replay to an annoying email with the words, “Go F*** Yourself!”.

The automated Gmail assistant is built around a Teensy 2.0 microcontroller equipped with a key that serves as a safety, lest an accidental “F*** you” be sent to friends, family, or employers.

If [Kevin]’s friend feels bad for telling so many people off there’s also a handy feature to make sure the engineer friend doesn’t seem too unhelpful: there’s a one percent chance of the Gmail assistant of replying with, “That’s a Great idea, I’ll get right on it!”.

BAMF2011: Google’s SKPR Bot, not for arachnophobes

Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.

18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.

Real-time GPS tracker with mobile phone uplink

[jayesh] wasn’t actually trying to solve any clever problems when we built his homebrew GPS tracker. He just had the hacker mentality and wanted to build something fun and useful while geeking out with electronics and software.

On the hardware side, he started with an Arduino, then added a GPS module for location detection and a GMS/GPRS module for the data uplink to his server over AT&T’s network. The Arduino uses several libraries and plenty of custom code. On the server, he worked up some wizardry with open-source packages and the Google Maps API. All of the source code and hardware details are well-documented. Put together, it’s a GPS tracker that can update a map in real-time. Sure, there are commercial products that do roughly the same thing, but where’s the fun in that? The principles here can also be put to good use in other microcontroller-based projects.

Tweet-a-Watt now speaks to Google Power Meter

Hackaday’s own [Devlin Thyne] has been working with Adafruit to come up with a way to use the Tweet-a-Watt along with Google Power Meter. Back in March we put out the word that Google had unveiled the API for Power Meter and [Devlin] is the first we’ve heard of to come up with a way to use your own equipment with the service. You can build your own or use Adafruit’s kit and the data pulled from your energy use will be nicely displayed using the big G’s tools. Right now there’s only support for one Tweet-a-Watt but we’d image this will evolve fairly quickly into a much larger house solution. Head over to the Tweet-a-Watt code page to get the source files for this project.

[Thanks PT]