Build your own SMS chatroom

While he was organizing a party, [Mike Seese] hit upon the idea of chatroom that would operate over SMS. Not being content with the ‘reply all’ function, [Mike] built a Group Messaging Service that runs on his home server.

The chat room is initiated by sending a text to a server. Your friends then reply, and the chatroom is then opened. The project was written in C++, and [Mike] put everything on github for your perusal. The software does use libraries from /n software’s IP*Works, but if you have any trouble obtaining those libraries feel free to drop [Mike] a line.

The great thing about this project is the fact that it’s platform independent – as long as a phone can do SMS, it’ll work. Seems like a great thing for those of us still using the old Nokia ‘bar’ phones. An SMS chatroom has been done before but this is the first time we’ve seen a build that will run off your server, and not internet-based services.

While it may not be the best idea for people without unlimited texts on their phone plan, it’s a really great idea and we’re wondering why something like this isn’t available via Google Voice.

Chatbox wireless IM client

[Utpal Solanki] wanted to do some text chatting from the comfort of the couch. He built this wireless chat client that he calls Chatbox using a microcontroller, a character LCD screen, and a keypad that he built himself.

The device communicates via an Infrared emitter and receiver. It pairs up with an Arduino using an IR shield that [Utpal] built. The handheld unit flashes a pair of white LEDs whenever it receives a message from the Arduino. You can then hit the Inbox button and scroll through to read what was received. To reply  just type on the keypad the same way you would with a cellphone, then hit the send button to shoot that message back to the Arduino.

On the computer side of things the messages are being relayed to and from the Arduino over a USB connection. Early on in the video demonstration (embedded after the break) [Utpal] shows his Chat Box program communicating via the handheld unit in the same way that other messenger programs work.

Looks to us like he’s built his own non-pink version of what the IM-ME was originally intended to do.

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“Ask an engineer” live streams at Adafruit

I [Caleb], finally had a chance to catch one of the live chat sessions over at Adafruit.com called “Ask an engineer“. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the show is only an hour long, the amount of information covered was quite amazing. They started out, announcing a new, this really cool looking touch screen system, product and going over the tech specs. This very quickly turned into a question and answer session about how to utilize and modify the device. [Limor], aka [ladyada] was extremely knowledgeable and [rossum], the designer who made it even showed up in the chat to fill in the rare gap. After that, there was a general question and answer period where people were firing off questions so fast I couldn’t watch them all and still follow her answers. It was a lot of fun and quite frankly felt way too short.

Be sure to check it out on Saturday night at 10:00 P.M. ET

Chat list indicator uses hacked xmas lights

Here’s a way to display which friends are logged into chat. This uses the same G-35 hacked Christmas lights we saw earlier in the month. [Andrejk's] company uses Microsoft Lync as their chat protocol when working in teams. The service has an SDK that allowed him to write some .NET code to check status and display it on the string of lights. It works much as you would expect; red for busy, green for available, purple is out-of-office, and we’d guess that yellow is for away. Watch him demonstrate the system after the break.

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Pseudo 3D chat

3d_video-conference

[Chris Harrison] and [Scott E. Hudson] have built a novel system for faking a 3D video chat session. Their implementation separates the image of the chat participant from the background. They then dynamically reposition the video based on the movement of the viewers head. Their using the OpenCV library to do facial recognition (just like the Laughing Man demo). The 3D effect is very similar to what you see in [Johnny Lee]‘s Wiimote headtracking. A video of the pseudo 3D chat is embedded below.

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