UDP between STM32-F4 Discovery boards

stm32-f4-udp

[The Backwoods Engineer] tested out a new accessory kit for the STM32-F4 Discovery board. The image above shows two boards communicating with the UDP protocol. Notice the extra PCB into which each Discovery board has been plugged. This is a third-party add-on which adds Ethernet, RS-232, SD card slot, and a connector for LCD or Camera. We’ve had one of these F4 Discovery boards on hand for a while and haven’t figured out a good way to connect external hardware to the huge dual pin-headers. This doesn’t solve the problem — the base board also includes dual headers to break-out all the pins — but having Ethernet, serial, and SD certainly reduces the need to add all that much more. The other drawback to the hardware is that the sample firmware is targeted at the IAR Embedded Workbench which is neither free, nor in the realm of affordable for hobbyists.

The NIC used on the baseboard has auto-crossover capabilities so the boards were connected using a regular Cat6 patch cable. This example has the boards constantly sending UDP packets with the module on the right reporting status information to a terminal via the serial connection.

Vodafone USB 3G modem driver from mbed

Wow, that’s a really simple hardware setup to supply your device with a 3G Internet connection. Better yet, the software side is just as simple thanks to the Vodafone USB Modem library for mbed. It will work for any of the cell data plans offered by Vodafone. The only problem you may have is not living in one of the 30 countries serviced by the telco.

The dongle seen at the right is sold by Vodafone and is meant to be used for Internet data, so you won’t be doing anything that might get your SIM banned. Connecting to the network is a one-liner thanks to the previously mentioned library. From there, gets and posts can be done with your favorite package. The  Hello World example uses HTTPClient. And since the mbed is simply an ARM platform it shouldn’t be hard to use the library with the ARM chip of your choice.

TouchIt Fabulously with other people on the Internet

[John] from MIT is working on a project to bring a little bit of interactivity to the hacks he does. Because his hacks receive much more attention on the Internet than in real life, [John] made it so clicking a button in your browser can change something in the real world. He calls his creation TouchIt Fabulously (check out that URL!), and it allows a queue of people on the Internet to take part in a real-world hack.

The basic idea of [John]‘s build is very simple: a microcontroller connected to the Internet and a 7-segment display receives button presses from random people on the web. [John] did a lot of work to make sure everything is ‘fair’ when a lot of people are hitting his server by including per-IP queuing and rate limiting.

Right now, it’s just a 7-segment display connected to the Internet with a live video stream. With each press of a button, the counter decrements by one, and the person to take it all the way to zero gets to put their comment up on the web site.

If this build receives a lot of interest, [John] plans on turning it into a much bigger build that will control the lights in his office, shoot ping-pong balls at him, and an interactive display where people can draw graffiti in one of MIT’s many hallways.

Now that [John]‘s build is up on Hackaday, we look forward to the stress testing our readers will graciously provide.

Thanks go to [Steve Baconmeister] for sending this in and having the best fake name ever.

Checking network status with a traffic light

If you’ve ever dealt with a buggy Internet connection, you know how frustrating it can be. This project takes the guesswork out of mashing F5 over and over, or simply walking over to your router and ‘turning it on and off again.’

Necessity is the mother of invention, and when the folks at the Bitlair hackerspace in Amersfoort, Netherlands got tired of opening up a terminal to see if their network connection was down at this weekend’s Haxogreen camp they did what any self-respecting hackerspace would do: make a traffic light monitor the Internet.

The traffic light is controlled by a Raspberry Pi the Bitlair folks had lying around attached to a spare traffic light they somehow obtained with a relay. Green means the Raspi can reach 8.8.8.8, red means there is no connection, and flashing lights means there is packet loss.

Not bad for a project put together in a few hours. Now if we only knew how they obtained a traffic light, ‘just lying around.’

Video after the break.

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Smile, your face is on the Internet

[Kyle McDonald] is up to a bit of no-good with a little piece of software he wrote. He’s been installing it on public computers all over New York City. It uses the webcam found in pretty much every new computer out there to detect when a face is in frame, then takes a picture and uploads it to the Internet.

We’ve embedded a video after the break that describes the process. From [Kyle's] comments about the video it seems that he asked a security guard at the Apple store if it was okay to take pictures and he encouraged it. We guess it could be worse, if this were a key logger you’d be sorry for checking your email (or, god forbid, banking) on a public machine. Instead of being malicious, [Kyle] took a string of the images, adjusted them so that the faces were all aligned and the same size, and then rolled them into the latter half of his video.

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Remote phone control using Bluetooth and a video stream

remote_bluetooth_phone_control

Hack-a-Day reader [Bobbie] sent us a hack that is an adaptation of the automatic cell phone button pushing machine we featured earlier this week. Inspired by that project, he challenged himself to construct a more efficient way to tackle the problem.

He started out in much the same fashion, pointing a camera at the phone in order to view the display remotely. The main thing he focused on to make his project unique was they way in which the buttons on the phone were activated. He was impressed by the mechanical button pressing rig, but thought it to be overly complicated. Instead, he decided to send button presses over Bluetooth to his phone which happened to be AT+CKPD compatible (PDF).

Not only that, his interface is quite impressive too. Originally planning to use the keyboard to send input to the phone, he changed course and programmed his video stream GUI to register mouse clicks instead. Now, when he clicks one of the phone’s buttons in the video display, the appropriate button press is sent to the phone – Awesome!

Keep reading to see a video of his remote phone interface, you’ll be glad you did.

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Machine pushes cellphone buttons from anywhere in the world

[Mok Young Bacq] works on the weekends for mobile game monitoring service. He has three cellphones that he uses for work, and although you would think this means he could work from anywhere in the world, the roaming charges are a killer. His solution was to build an incredibly intricate machine that can use three different cellphones (PDF) on his behalf.

Above you can see it perched underneath the apex of the ladder, but you’re definitely going to want to watch the video after the break. This interface method uses a camera to look at each phone. It’s hung pointing downward and moves like a pendulum to look at one of the three screens at a time. Each phone has one servo motor for each button, which uses a flexible cable as an actuator. Now he can take trips abroad, just checking in over the Internet for his two 17-hour weekend shifts (10am to 3am the next morning) working the phones.

This reminds us of the cellphone endurance tests. What happens when a button stops working?

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