Video display from RGB strips makes it seem so easy

[Fabien] wrote in to share a link to this RGB video display which he made. He’s got some pretty cool routines that make it more functional than you would think, but first we want to comment on the construction. He used an RGB strip, which makes this look like an incredibly simple build. The strip has a data and power bus running the length of it. You can it into smaller segments, then just solder jumper wires to reconnect the buses. That’s exactly what he did here, making it what must be the fastest method of putting together a display of this size (16×10 pixels).

It’s driven by a Netduino which easily addresses the LPD8806 drivers responsible for the LEDs. It gets input from a computer via Xbee, making it easy to include data from the net, or to push visualizations. The video after the break shows a [Van Gogh] self-portrait. Since 160 pixel resolution wouldn’t do it justice, the visualization software shows a zoomed in portion of the painting which is constantly panning to let you see the entire work. It’s a fabulous effect.

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All About Accelerometers

If you’ve ever wondered about the use of or theory behind or the use of accelerometers, this tutorial by Love Electronics is a very good resource. In this article, Love takes one through how to hook up an ADXL345 accelerometer and use it with a Netduino processor. Before the subject of hooking everything up is broached, a very good discussion is given on the general theory and operation of accelerometers.

Information is given about installing all the required software and libraries. Additionally, a mini tutorial about writing a “hello” application using the .NET framework is given. Finally, the application gives the [Windows Presentation Foundation] tools necessary to visualize the raw data that the Netduino produces.

One could really start using this processor and accelerometer from scratch with this tutorial and some basic electronics knowledge.  This could add a great new feature to your next robot or allow measurement that couldn’t be done with simpler sensors.

Klout Klok tracks your popularity, time

[Fabien Royer] has been playing around with Netduinos and he just came up with a really awesome project that will display the time and social media popularity. It’s a very nice build, and we’d guess that his social media influence is going to go up very shortly.

Klout is a service that connects to your Facebook or Twitter profile and tells you how much influence you have on a scale of 1 to 100 (possibly 10 to 100. see this). To build the Klout Klock [Fabian] used a Netduino Plus, a good choice because of the integrated ethernet port. The Netduino connects to the Klout API to either satiate vanity or admit prestige. The display is an adafruit TFT screen.

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Self-regulating water heater


Most everyone is looking to live a little greener these days, with motivating factors typically being the preservation of the environment or financial considerations. [Fabien] fit into the latter category after realizing that about 25% of his monthly gas bill went to heating the water he and his family use each day. After a few calculations, he found that they only required hot water 68 of the 168 hours per week that the water heater was typically running. He figured the best way to save a few dollars was to rig the water heater to turn itself down when it wasn’t being used.

He connected a servo to the temperature control knob on his water heater, allowing it to be adjusted by a microcontroller. Having a rough idea as to the schedule his family keeps during an average week, he wrote an application for his Netduino that would actuate the servo when needed. A DS1307 real-time clock was wired to the Netduino for accurate timekeeping, so as to ensure [Fabien’s] wife never had to endure a cold shower.

It’s a shame that most water heaters don’t ship with some sort of programmable thermostat like you see with newer HVAC systems, but this hack is definitely a step in the right direction.

Continue reading to see his power-saving water heater in action.

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