Using an oscilloscope as a composite video adapter

Confronted with a monitor that would display neither HDMI signal, nor composite video, [Joonas Pihlajamaa] took on a rather unorthodox task of getting his oscilloscope to work as a composite video adapter. He’s using a PicoScope 2204 but any hardware that connects to a computer and has a C API should work. The trick is in how his code uses the API to interpret the signal.

The first thing to do is make sure the voltage levels used in the composite signal are within the tolerances of your scope. [Joonas] used his multimeter to measure the center pole of the RCA connector and found that the Raspberry Pi board puts out from 200 mV to 2V, well within the PicoScope’s specs. Next he started to analyze the signal. The horizontal sync is easy to find, and he ignored the color information — opting for a monochrome output to ease the coding process. The next big piece of the puzzle is to ascertain the vertical sync so that he knows where each frame starts. He got it working and made one last improvement to handle interlacing.

The proof of concept video after the break shows off the he did. It’s a bit fuzzy but that’s how composite video looks normally.

[Read more...]

Forget Siri – make Wolfram Alpha your personal assistant

So you can spend a bundle on a new phone and it comes with a voice-activated digital assistant. But let’s be honest, it’s much more satisfying if you coded up this feature yourself. Here’s a guide on doing just that by combining an Asterisk server with the Wolfram Alpha API.

Asterisk is a package we are already familiar with. It’s an open source Private Branch Exchange suite that lets you build your own telephone network. Chances are, you’re not going to build one just for this project, but if you do make sure to document the process and let us know about it. With the Asterisk server in place you just need to give the assistant script an extension (in this case it’s 4747).

But then there’s the problem of translating your speech into text which can be submitted as a Wolfram query. There’s an API for that too which uses Google to do that translation. From there you can tweak abbreviations and other parameters, but all-in-all your new assistant is ready to go. Call it up and ask what to do when you have a flat tire (yeah, that commercial drives us crazy too).

[Thanks M]

SMS gateway lets you Twitter by text message

[GuySoft] threw together a cellphone-based SMS gateway that allows him to push text messages to Twitter. Once up and running, it can be used by multiple people, either with shared or individual Twitter accounts. At its core, this setup uses the cellphone as a tethered modem on a Linux box. The open source software package, Gammu SMSD, provides hardware hooks for phones running in modem mode. The package is already in the Ubuntu repositories but it runs cross-platform and can be downloaded from the project site. This gave [GuySoft] the ability to script a framework that checks for received SMS messages, compares the incoming phone number for a match on a saved list, then pushes the message from a confirmed number to Twitter via their API.

A web interface is used to register new numbers and associate them with Twitter accounts. On the back-end, [GuySoft's] own Python script handles the translation of the message. You can download all of the code, and get more insight on setup from the readme file, over at the GitHub repository.

Smart power meter interface for the Linux crowd

[Graham Auld] got his hands on an energy monitor for free from his utility company. The device seen in the insert provides a nice LCD display but he wanted a way to graph the data over time. There was an included cable and a method of using Google PowerMeter but only for Windows computers. He did a little poking around and came up with a Perl script to interface the meter with Google’s tools.

The hardware module is known as the Current Cost CC128 and the developer was nice enough to publish an XML output description which [Graham] used in his script. From there it’s just a matter of registering and authenticating through the Google PowerMeter API. The script is not fully polished yet but it serves as a road map for your own implementation.

Google unveils API to PowerMeter

Google’s tentacles continue to wrap around every portion of our lives with the addition of an API for their PowerMeter software. The PowerMeter tool works with smart electricity meters to monitor and display power usage in the home. This will allow manufacturers (and hackers alike) to design new devices with the Google interface in mind.

We’ve got an old-fashioned power meter with a spinning dial and no blinking LED. This means we can’t monitor that blink to add our own PowerMeter interface. But if you do have an easy way to grab data from your meter you can design a home system that takes full advantage of Google’s tools.

Ok, who’s going to be the first to have their Google PowerMeter-compatible hack featured on Hackaday?

[Thanks Juan]

Build your own browser extensions for Google Chrome

google-chrome-logo

[Ryan] posted a writeup on developing extensions for Google Chrome. The extension system utilizes HTML with a JavaScript API which is still sparsely documented. After taking us through his twitter bar extension project, he concludes that the Chrome extensions are not nearly as versatile as what we’re used to seeing with Firefox. That being said, this is a move in the right direction for the young browser.

[related: Google Chrome roundup]

Twitter IRC server, tircd

tircd

tircd is an ircd proxy for talking to the Twitter API. It should work with any standard IRC client. After running the Perl script, you authenticate to the IRC server using your Twitter username as your /nick. Join the room #twitter and the /topic will be set to your last update. Any message you type will update Twitter and the room’s topic. All of the people you are following show up in the room as users and post messages as they tweet. If you private message one of them, it will become a direct message on Twitter. Other commands work too: /whois to get a person’s bio, /invite to start following, and /kick to unfollow. The project is brand new and will be added new features in the future like Search API support. Follow @tircd for updates.

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