Two years ago, [Matt] made a move away from his software hacks and into the physical world. He was part of a pilot program to provide mentorship to children as part of the Maker Education Initiative. This program gave him access to 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser cutters within the New York Hall of Science makerspace. [Matt] chose to build an illuminated notification cube for his first physical project. The idea being that smart phones have so many alerts, many of which are unimportant. His project would help him to visualize and categorize each alert to better understand its importance.
The brain of the system is a Raspberry Pi. [Matt] found a Python library that allowed him to directly control an RGB LED strip based on the LPD8806 chip. He wired the data pins directly to the Pi and used an old 5V cell phone charger to power the LEDs. The strip was cut into smaller strands. Each face of the cube would end up with three strands of two LEDs each, or six LEDs per side. [Matt] found a mount for the Pi on Thingiverse and used a 3D printer to bring it into existence. The sides were made of frosted laser cut acrylic. The frosted look helps to diffuse the light from the LEDs.
Over time [Matt] found that the cube wasn’t as useful as he originally thought it would be. He just didn’t have enough alerts to justify the need. He ended up reprogramming the Pi to pull weather information instead, making use of the exact same hardware for another, more useful purpose.
If you are into your social media, then you probably like to stay updated with your notifications. [Gamaral] feels this way but he wasn’t happy with the standard way of checking the website or waiting for his phone to alert him. He wanted something a little more flashy. Something like a flux capacitor notification light. This device won’t send his messages back in time, but it does look cool.
He started with an off-the-shelf flux capacitor USB charger. Normally this device just looks cool when charging your USB devices. [Gamaral] wanted to give himself more control of it. He started by opening up the case and replacing a single surface mount resistor. The replacement component is actually a 3.3V regulator that happens to be a similar form factor as the original resistor. This regulator can now provide steady power to the device itself, as well as a ESP8266 module.
The ESP8266 module has built-in WiFi capabilities for a low price. The board itself is also quite small, making it suitable for this project. [Gamaral] used just two GPIO pins. The first one toggles the flux circuit on and off, and the second keeps track of the current state of the circuit. To actually trigger the change, [gamaral] just connects to the module via TCP and issues a “TIME CIRCUIT ON/OFF” command. The simplicity makes the unit more versatile because an application running on a PC can actually track various social media and flash the unit accordingly.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but cats are certainly a hacker’s best muse. They provide so many ‘reasons’ for projects, like this cat door which [Clement] augmented to monitor the comings and goings of his feline friend (translated). He’s using a web service we hadn’t heard of before called PushingBox to send notifications like Tweets and Emails from the Arduino monitoring that door.
The two white rectangles attached to the cat door in the image above are magnets commonly used for entry door monitoring. Using a pair of them along with reed switches lets the system differentiate between an incoming or outgoing cat. The Arduino is web-connected and running the PushingBox API to manage the notification messages. See a demo of the system in the clip after the break.
This would be a nice addition to the cat door we saw [Dino] build. Of course, if you really want to go all out with the cat hacks the next project should be a GPS tracking collar. Continue reading “PushingBox alerts you of your cat’s roaming habits”
At [mkanoap’s] office, they have a software package that monitors their various servers’ health, but they wanted a separate indicator to display the status of their most critical systems. They put together a simple list of criteria for their display, including the ability to view the status without a computer, and that it share the same red/yellow/green indicators that their monitoring software utilizes. With those needs in mind (and a few hundred dollars to spare), [mkanoap] and crew rushed out to buy a stoplight, then got to building.
Their status system is self-contained, utilizing an Arduino and Ethernet shield to control the stoplight. The Arduino was programmed to act as a web server, and responds to GET requests by toggling any of the three mains-powered lamps using relays. [mkanoap] then created a handful of scripts that check the status of the critical servers every 5 minutes, updating the stoplight accordingly. The whole setup was tucked neatly inside the light’s housing, before being mounted on the wall in their office.
[mkanoap] says that the reaction to the stoplight as been great, though they had to install dimmer bulbs so those people sitting near it were not blinded. His writeup is incredibly detailed should anyone want to construct one of their own, and who wouldn’t?
The team over at Archonix frequently challenge themselves to create a full working project in under 20 minutes. [Andrew Armstrong] put together a blog post detailing their most recent “Quickproject” – a simple Twitter notifier built using their Boobie Board.
They started by putting together a small notifier breakout module that could later be attached to their Boobie Board. The module is pretty simple and includes a trio of LEDs to alert you to activity across several online services, though only the Twitter notification module is currently complete. The notifier’s code was written in LUA, and primarily designed to interact with Linux desktops. They do not currently have a Windows compatible version of the code available, but they are more than happy to host it if someone desires to port their code over.
The notifier was put into an old candy tin with a plastic window, which is perfect fit for their project. All in all, the entire thing took them about 40 minutes, with half spent on hardware, half on code. The notifier does just what it was intended to do, but they have a healthy list of improvements that they would like to add, including the use of the other two notifier LEDs.
[Sean] was screwing around online looking for nothing in particular when he came across a mailbox hacked to notify the homeowner when the mail had been delivered. Since his mail is delivered via a slot in the door, he had no use for the hack as is, but something similar soon came to mind.
His dog isn’t too keen on visitors, and he figured that he could save himself a bit of grief (and a lot of unnecessary barking) if he were to wire up his doorbell to notify him of guests via his iPhone. He stopped by the local hardware store and picked up a wireless doorbell. It was quickly disassembled and wired up to an Arduino he had set aside for a different project. Tweaking some code he found online, he soon had the doorbell talking with the Arduino and was ready to interface it with his iPhone. He decided that he wanted to deliver notifications to his phone via Growl and found a Perl script online that was close to what he needed. A few tweaks later, and he had a Growling doorbell.
As you can see in the video below, it works, though there seems to be a bit of a delay in the notification. We don’t think that it would be enough to send his visitors packing before he made it to the door, but the lag can likely be reduced with a few small modifications.
As for the post that started this whole thing, we’re pretty sure this is it.
Continue reading “Growling doorbell lets you know guests have arrived”
Hack42, a hackerspace in Arnhem, Netherlands recently moved into some new digs, and they wanted an easy way to let their members know whether they were open or not. Fixed hours of operation typically do not fit this sort of organization, so that was out of the question. Instead, they built a switch into the wall** that will let their members know when they are open for business.
The switch separates the TX and RX pins of two Ethernet ports that reside in an old access point embedded in the wall. When the hackerspace is open, the switch is thrown and the circuit is closed. A cron job checks the state of the eth1 port once a minute, sending the “Open” status message to Twitter and IRC once it notices the status change. When the switch is thrown again and the eth1 port goes down, a “Closed” message is broadcast.
It is a simple but cool hack, and quite befitting of a hackerspace.
**No direct Google Translate link is available, though Chrome will translate it for you without issue.