The Amazon Echo is a pretty cool piece of tech: it lets you ask questions, queue up music, find out the weather, and more, without having to do anything but talk. But, the device itself is a bit pricey, and looks a little boring. What if you could have all the features of the Echo, but in a cool retro case and at a cheaper price?
Well, you can, and that’s exactly what [nick.r.brewer] did, using a ’50s intercom and a Raspberry Pi. He picked the vintage intercom up at an antique store for $20, and the Raspberry Pi Zero is less than $10. So, for about $30 (and some parts most of us have lying around) he was able to build a cool looking device with all of the capabilities of the Amazon Echo.
The hardware portion of the build was pretty straightforward, with the Raspberry Pi, a sound card, WiFi dongle, USB hub, and microphone all fitting nicely inside the case of the intercom. The software side of things is a little more tricky, but with a device like this it runs well with Amazon’s Alexa SDK. Of course, if you want to add more hardware features, that’s possible too.
Continue reading “Retrofitting a Vintage Intercom to Run Amazon Alexa”
Forgot your apartment keys? If you’ve got a ritzy building with a doorman, no problem. If your digs are a little more modest, you might only have an intercom panel that calls up to your apartment so someone can buzz you in. But if nobody is home, you’re out of luck. That’s why [Paweł] spent an hour whipping up an intercom connected automation system pack full of goodies.
The design is pretty simple – an ATMega328P to snoop on the analog phone ringer in the apartment when the intercom call button is pushed, and a relay wired in parallel with the door switch to buzz him in. For added security, the microcontroller detects the pattern of button presses and prevents unwanted guests from accessing the lobby. Things got really fun when [Paweł] added a PCM audio module to play random audio clips through the intercom. As you can see in the video below, an incorrect code might result in a barking dog or a verbal put-down. But [Paweł] earns extra points for including the Super Mario Bros sound clip and for the mashup of the “Imperial March” with “The Girl from Ipanema”.
True, we’ve seen a slightly more polished but less [Mario] version of this project before, but the presentation of this particular hack has us grinning from ear to ear.
Continue reading “Hacked Apartment Intercom Barks at You or Buzzes You In”
We’ve all seen the old movie scene where the executive calls his assistant on the intercom for some task or other. [Jan] may not be an executive, and he may not have an assistant. He does have Raspberri, his voice controlled personal digital assistant. Raspberri started life as a vintage Televox intercom box. [Jan] found it at a second-hand store, and snapped it up in hopes of using it in a future project. That project eventually happened when [Jan] got a Raspberry Pi and learned how to use it. He decided to build the Televox and Pi together, creating his own electronic assistant.
[Jan] started by adding a cheap USB sound card and WiFi module to his Pi. He also added a small 3 Watt audio amp board. The Televox used a single speaker as both audio input and output. [Jan] didn’t want to make any modifications to the case, so he kept this arrangement. Using a single speaker would mean dead shorting the audio amplifier and the sound card’s microphone input. To avoid this, [Jan] added a DPDT relay controlled by the original push-to-talk button on the Televox. The relay switches between the microphone input and the audio output on the USB sound card. Everything fit nicely inside the Televox case.
With the hardware complete [Jan] turned his attention to software. He went with PiAUISuite for voice input. Voice output is handled by a simple shell script which uses google voice to convert text to speech. For intermediate processing, such as scraping a weather website for data, [Jan] created custom python scripts. The end result is pretty darn good. There is a bit of lag between saying the command and receiving an answer. This may be due to transferring the audio files over WiFi. However, [Jan] can always get away with saying his assistant was out getting him more coffee!
Continue reading “Meet ‘Raspberri’, Your Personal Voice Controlled Assistant”
[Kyle] just moved into a new home, a 1970s abode that was very modern for its time. When the house was built, a home intercom system was installed. Of course this intercom system was eventually disconnected, but now [Kyle] would like to find a use for it.
The intercom system is a wonderful piece of engineering from the late 60s and early 70s. The base station has an FM radio, a mono input (for plugging in a turntable, we suppose), and a huge speaker. The satellite units – one for each room in the house – are much simpler with just a push to talk switch and a volume control. Yes, in classic minimalist style, the engineers for this intercom system used the speaker as a microphone.
[Kyle] would like to keep the wonderful plastic fantastic aesthetic of the intercom system, but he’s looking for something cool to do with this hardware. This could be the beginnings of a very cool, very strange house-wide artificial intelligence build, kind of like a consumer version of HAL 9000. We’re interested in hearing what you’d do with [Kyle]’s hardware, so leave your ideas in the comments.
[Bozar88] lives in an apartment building that has a buzzer at the front security door. Guests find your name on the panel next to that door, and press a button to ring the phone just inside the entry of each apartment unit. He decided to extend the built-in capabilities by adding a morse-code entry password which unlocks the security entrance automatically (translated).
He designed a circuit and etched his own board which fits nicely inside of the wall-mounted phone. It uses an ATtiny2313 to implement the coding functions. The device attaches to the intercom line in order to detect incoming button presses from the entry panel. There’s some protection here to keep the signal at or below 5V. The output is two-fold. The microcontroller can drive the microphone line using a transistor, which gives the user audio feedback when the code is entered. To unlock the door an opt-isolated triac (all in one package) makes the connection to actuate the electronic strike on the entry door.
The video after the break is not in English, but it’s still quite easy to understand what is being demonstrated.
Continue reading “Apartment entry morse-code lock”
On his blog, [Kenneth Finnegan] recently showed off a replica of a fun toy he used to play with as a kid, a telephone intercom system. The setup is pretty simple, requiring little more than a pair of analog phones, a battery, and a resistor.
The phones are connected to one another using a standard telephone cable, but [Kenneth] uses a 9v battery to introduce a small bias current into the loop, allowing the speakers at either end to hear one another. He also added a small LED into the circuit so that there is a visual indication as to when both handsets are off hook.
The setup is very simple at the moment, though [Kenneth] does have some ideas in mind to enhance his intercom system. He hopes to tweak the remote phone to ring when the local phone is picked up, among other things.
Telephone technology is nothing new, but for just a few dollars (or less) your kids can be entertained for hours as [Kenneth] was way back when.
Continue reading to see a short video overview of the phone system, and be sure to share your ideas for enhancing it in the comments section.
Continue reading “This toy intercom system is way better than a pair of tin cans and some string”