Building a message board with a web interface

[Sergio] is just getting into hardware hacking. He started by getting an HD44780 compatible LCD screen running with his Arduino. To take the project to the next level, he decided to add a web interface for changing the message displayed on the LCD.

He’s doing things on the cheap (a man after our own hearts), purchasing many of his components off of eBay. Unfortunately that decision came back to bite him when it was time to connect his Arduino to the network. The Ethernet Shield knock-off wasn’t the same as the official version. That one’s got a Wiznet W5100 ethernet chip with does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Instead, [Sergio] is using a board with an ENC28J60. It took a bit of searching, but eventually he came up with an example to help him get his Arduino serving web pages and listening for updates from them.

The ENC28J60 is actually not a bad piece of hardware. It’s cheap enough, and there are a few hardware/software demos out there that are worth taking a look at.

Adding Ethernet control for a 5.1 speaker set

[HuB's] set of 5.1 surround sound speakers was gobbling up a bunch of electricity when in standby as evidenced by the 50 Hz hum coming from the sub-woofer and the burning hot heat sink on the power supply. He wanted to add a way to automatically control the systems and offer the new feature of disconnecting the power from the mains.

The first part was not too hard, although he used a roundabout method of prototyping. He planned to use the IR receiver on the speakers to control them. At the time, [HuB] didn’t have an oscilloscope on hand that he could use to capture the IR protocol so he ended up using Audacity (the open source audio editing suite) to capture signals connected to the input of a sound card. He used this to establish the timing and encoding that he needed for all eight buttons on the original remote control.

Next, he grabbed a board that he built using an ATmega168 and an ENC28J60 Ethernet chip. This allows you to send commands via the Internet which are then translated into the appropriate IR signals to control the speakers and a few other devices in the room. The last piece of the puzzle was to wrap an RF controlled outlet into the project with lets him cut mains power to the speakers when not in use. You can see the video demonstration embedded after the break.

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Ego Box monitors web hits

[Bogdan's] latest project is a box that displays web hits for a chosen site. He calls it the Ego Box because depending on how traffic goes it either bloats or crushes your ego. This provides similar functionality as our Troll Sniffing Rat but the biggest difference is that this is a stand-alone Ethernet device. That’s thanks to the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller chip which manages the stack and has been quite popular in DIY electronic projects. In order to monitor your hits [Bogdan] crafted a bit of code to add to the header of your index page. It increments the counter file each time the page is loaded, and the Ego Box simply monitors that file, displaying the traffic on an eight digit 7 segment display.

[via Adafruit]

Web controlled sprinkler automation

[Doug] needed to update his watering system to comply with his city’s new water saving ordinance. The old system wasn’t capable of being programmed to water only on even or odd calendar days. Rather than purchase a replacement he decided to build his own sprinkler controller. It needed to switch 12V solenoids, a job that’s not too hard to design for. Rather than re-invent the wheel, he modified a previous controller design. It is basically an Arduino and Ethernet shield on a his own etched board. In addition to the ATmega328 and an ENC28J60 (for ethernet connectivity) there is a bank of transistors to drive the watering solenoids. Now he has a web interface that controls the watering schedule and is fully in compliance with the new city code.

If you need another way to save when watering your grass you should take a look at the sidewalk-avoiding sprinkler.

Stepping beyond the Ethernet shield

We’ve said it time and again, the Arduino is a prototyping platform. In that spirit, [Doug Jackson] shows you how to conserve the expensive Arduino board and Ethernet shield by building your own Arduino Ethernet module. You may remember the ENC28j60 as a NIC for your microcontrollers. [Doug's] board makes use of that chip and adds an ATmega168 with a crystal, power regulator, breakout pins, and even a few DIP switches which can come in quite handy.

IPv6 to 1-wire protocol translator

[Fli] assembled an AVR based system that can assign IPv6 addresses to 1-wire components. An AVR ATmega644 microcontroller is used in conjunction with an ENC28J60 ethernet controller chip. To get up and running with IPv6 on this meek hardware [Fli] ported the uIPv6 stack from the contiki project over to the AVR framework. Although he encountered some hardware snafus along the way, in the end he managed to get five sensors connected to the device, each with their own IP assigned using the stack’s alias capability.

This is great if you’re looking for a low-cost IPv6 solution. We’re not sure if there’s much demand for that, but it’s useful for that 1-wire home automation setup you’re considering.

How-To: Web server on a business card (Part 2)

This mini web server is slightly smaller than a business card. There are a lot of tiny one-board servers out there, but this is probably the smallest you can etch and solder at home. Unlike many embedded web servers, files are stored on a PC-readable SD card, not in a difficult-to-write EEPROM. Read on for the web server design, or catch up on PIC 24F basics in the previous article: Web server on a business card (part 1).

[Read more...]

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