Automated Aquarium is Kitchen-Sinky

fishtankAutomation

People have been converting their old Power Macs and Mac G5s into fish tanks for a few years now, but [Hayden's] Internet-enabled tank is probably the most awesome ever crammed into an aquarium along with the water and the fish—and we’ve seen some fascinating builds this summer. After gutting the G5 and covering the basic acrylic work, [Hayden] started piling on the electronics: a webcam, timed LED lighting, an LCD for status readouts, filter and bubble control via a servo, an ultrasonic sensor to measure water levels, thermometer, scrolling matrix display, an automatic feeding mechanism, and more. He even snuck in the G5’s old mainboard solely for a cool backdrop.

The build uses both a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino Mega, which sit underneath the tank at the base. The Pi provides a web interface written in PHP and jQuery, which presents you with the tank’s status and allows changes to some settings. Nearly every component received some form of modification. [Hayden] stripped the webcam of its case and replaced the enclosure with a piece of acrylic and a mountain of silicone, making it both waterproof and slim enough to fit in the appropriate spot. Though he decided to stick with an Amazon-bought Eheim fish feeder, he disabled the unit’s autofeed timer and tapped in to the manual “feed” button to integrate it into his own system.

It’d take half of the front page to explain the rest of this thing. We’ve decided to let the aquarium tell you the rest of its features in the video below. Yeah…it can talk.

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This piggy bank is our stock broker

piggy-bank-stock-buy

[Johna and Justin] are working to take the emotion out of playing the market. They built this piggy bank which automatically purchases stock when your coinage totals the cost of a single share. That’s right, just turn the selector to one of your three chosen stocks (Google, Facebook, and Apple are used in this example) and plug in some coins. The bank counts your money, compares it to the current online stock price, and pulls the trigger if you have enough dough. You can check out a demo clip after the jump.

The hardware is rather simple thanks to Adafruit’s programmable multi-coin acceptor. It handles the cash and it’s pretty easy to interface with the Arduino which handles the rest of the work. It connects to a computer via USB, depending on a PHP script to poll the current price. We dug through the code repository just a bit but didn’t find the snippet that does the actual stock purchase. Whether or not they actually implemented that, it’s certainly an interesting concept.

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Easy web interface with GPIO access runs on Raspberry Pi

rpi-web-interface-using-mysql-php

Here’s a Raspberry Pi hack that adds web control using PHP and MySQL. As you can see in the image, it serves up a webpage (using the Apache2 server) which allows you to change the state of the GPIO pins. It’s not super-complicated, but it is nice to see a step-by-step guide for installing and configuring the package.

Web interface GPIO control is one of the features we loved about the Adafruit Web IDE. But this offering is loaded completely from the RPi (the Adafruit package uses cloud based code) and utilizes the tools most Linux network admins will be used to. A MySQL database manages the connection between GUI commands and GPIO modification. The webpage is served up by a PHP script which takes care of polling and changing database values. Configuration requires a new database, plus the username and password which has access to it.

Electric Imp makes a cat door Tweet its activities

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This Tweeting cat door uses the Electric Imp to read a sensor and report back to the server. The hardware is pretty neat. The board hosts an ARM Cortex-M3 processor and gets on your home network via WiFi. The mini-USB cable simply provides the power. Programming is done over the network. Our own [Brian Benchoff] had a chance to try the Imp out earlier in the Fall.

Monitoring a cat door is as good a reason as any to undertake a project. The hardware added to the board includes a reed switch mounted on the jamb along with a magnet on the door itself. There is also a blue LED that gives a bit of user feedback. The software isn’t quite as easy but it still wasn’t that bad. As with most web-connected projects getting all the parts to talk to each other was a bit of a chore. The Imp reports back to a server on the local network which then activates a PHP script that uses Sen.se to push out a Tweet.

[Thanks Pat]

What you can do when a Raspberry Pi teams up with an Arduino

We thought that connecting an Arduino to a Raspberry Pi was overkill, but one thing caught our attention. [Jan Stevens] mentions that the RPi is less expensive than the Ethernet Shield. Interesting. As we looked into his writeup a bit more we began to think he’s onto something. [Jan] uses the PHP serial class to communicate between the RPi and Arduino. This ends up being a very inexpensive way to bring some of the more powerful web programming options to your hardware devices.

Sure, he’s just driving three RGB LEDs. But the demo video after the break gives us a glimpse as some of the interface options that become available when an embedded Linux machine is in play. He’s using jQuery, AJAX, PHP, and JSON to name a few. If you want to give this a try yourself you can grab the code from his Github repo. Of course we’re going to want to hear about any projects you develop from this starting point!

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Turning a light off over the Internet

Because reaching over a few feet to turn off a switch is too much to bear for [Bruce], he connected his desk lamp to the Internet. It’s a pretty cool build that’s the perfect tutorial for connecting just about anything to the internet.

For his build, [Bruce] used an Arduino with a relay attached to an output pin. When the Arduino receives a signal on its serial port, a tiny voltage is applied to the relay, turning on the light.

This could have been done with an Arduino Ethernet, but the PHP script [Bruce] went with is a little more versatile. Whenever someone pulls up this digital light switch web page, they can turn [Bruce]‘s desk lamp on and off.

For an introduction to connecting bare bones projects to the Internet, we’re really liking [Bruce]‘s build. Just try no to go crazy with that link and leave the failure testing to the professionals. You can check out the demo video after the break.

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Detecting ASCII art across the Internet

As a web developer and designer, [Victor] has a habit of putting a very nice ASCII signature in an HTML comment at the top of every web page he designs. He was inspired by seeing others do this,  and this piqued his curiosity to see who else was doing this. His idea was to scan through a chunk of the Internet and see what other web pages had ASCII signatures in an HTML comment. With a lot of very clever work, [Victor] managed to grab some interesting ASCII art that would have been missed without looking at the source of millions of web pages.

After gathering a list of the top million top-level domains from Alexa, [Victor] wrote a script to download the HTML for all the pages in parallel. After that, it was just an issue of detecting the ASCII art in all the HTML files. There were a few earlier ASCII art detection algorithms, but nothing that suited [Victor]‘s use case. The best result came from only looking at the first comment (otherwise the signatory wouldn’t want you to find it with a quick glance at the source) that were at least 3 lines long and 40 characters wide. After discarding everything with HTML tags in it, [Victor] had an awesome gallery of the ASCII art from webpages all around the Internet.

What did he find? Well, there’s far too many ASCII signatures for [Victor] to put up on his webpage, but he did provide a nice sample of what he found. They’re mostly logos, although there is a Hypnotoad and Aperture Science sentry turret in there.

If you’d like to try out [Victor]‘s script, he made everything available on GitHub.

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