[Jamie Zawinski] controls his drapes from the command line

As one of the founders of Netscape and the Mozilla Project, [Jamie Zawinski] is no stranger to frustration elicited from syntax errors, terrible implementations, and things that don’t work even though they should. This familiarity of frustration is what makes [jwz]‘s command line controlled curtains so great; it’s rare to see someone so technically proficient freaking out over the lack of DHCP on an Arduino Ethernet.

[Jamie]‘s project begins as so many do – modifying an existing piece of hardware to connect to the Internet. This is easier said than done, as [Jamie] fried a USB hub, FTDI cable and an Arduino Ethernet all at the same time. Finally turned onto the seeed relay shield, [jwz] got busy writing scripts to power his curtain.

Of course, this level of automation is nothing without a good bit of integration. After [Jamie] realized his projector (a Panasonic PT-D5500U) and receiver (Denon AVR-2805) could talk to his computer, he got busy mashing them together with a Griffin PowerMate. Mashing the button on the PowerMate turns on the projector and closes the drapes. There’s also a cron job running so that [Jamie] is reminded of the glowing orange ball in the sky.

Automated window curtain hits the road

[Niklas Roy] upgraded his privacy curtain and is taking it on the road. Regular readers will remember the first version that resided in his shop window and used video processing in conjunction with a motor to keep the small bit of curtain in front of any passersby. We’ve embedded the original demo video after the break and it’s not to be missed.

But now he’s decided to make some upgrades to the system because it’s going to be shown as an art display. He looked around for a motor upgrade but found that the best motor at the most reasonable price could be pulled from a Makita power drill. The track itself is modular, making the installation scalable up to ten meters in total length. He even built a clean-looking laptop dock that handles the video processing end of things. But there’s something here for you as well. He’s released all of his source code, schematics, board design, and even the SketchUp files for the motor mounts and other parts. Dig out that old power drill and build one of your own.

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Roller curtains with your graphics on them

[Lenore] added a bit of customization to her office window hangings by fitting roller curtains with custom printed fabric. The treatment seen above is a $20 Enje roller blind from Ikea but that logo is all Evil Mad Science. The weight at the bottom of the fabric uses a friction-fit plastic insert that can be stapled onto new material. Some fusible tape was ironed onto the sides to finish those edges, and the roller at the top has strong adhesive that remains for a second use after peeling off the original material.

A fabric printer was used to produce this rendition of shades. But we’d like to see some conductive thread added for a fabric-based display that can be rolled up when not in use.

Window curtain moves to screen pedestrians

[Niklas Roy] built a motorized window curtain to screen out foot traffic in front of his window. When you hear “motorized curtain” you may think that this will move up and down but it doesn’t. Instead, the small curtain move horizontally to cover passersby as they travel down the sidewalk. This is accomplished using a camera in conjunction with some motion sensing software. In the video after the break you can see that the software also anticipates the movement, and ends up doing a good job of keeping the target covered. That’s thanks to the Processing sketch working in conjunction with a rotary encoder on the hardware setup. Details for both are available on the page linked above.

This harkens to other community involvement hacks we’ve seen like the subway stair piano, or the bottle recycling video game. It’s fun and quirky, which is not too much of a surprise as we saw a glimpse of that when we looked at [Niklas'] public fountain hydropower generator.

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