Hacking a Pogoplug into a $20 PBX

Pogoplug Series 4 Backup Device

The Pogoplug Series 4 is a little network attached device that makes your external drives accessible remotely. Under the hood of this device is an ARM processor running at 800 MHz, which is supported by the Linux kernel. If you’re looking to build your own PBX on the cheap, [Ward] runs us through the process. Since the Pogoplug 4 is currently available for about $20, it’s a cheap way to play with telephony.

Step one is to convert the Pogoplug to Debian, which mostly requires following instructions carefully. After the Pogoplug is booting Debian, the Incredible PBX bundle can be installed. We’ve seen this bundle running on a Raspberry Pi in the past. Incredible PBX’s preconfigured setup based on Asterisk and FreePBX gives a ton of functionality out of the box.

With your $20 PBX running, there’s a lot that can be done. Google’s Voice service allows unlimited free calling to the USA and Canada. With Internet connectivity, you get email notifications for voicemails, and can query WolframAlpha by voice.

LEDs Turn This Paper Map into a Tram Tracker

Subway radar

Public transit can be a wonderful thing. It can also be annoying if the trains are running behind schedule. These days, many public transit systems are connected to the Internet. This means you can check if your train will be on time at any moment using a computer or smart phone. [Christoph] wanted to take this concept one step further for the Devlol hackerspace is Linz, Austria, so he built himself an electronic tracking system (Google translate).

[Christoph] started with a printed paper map of the train system. This was placed inside what began as an ordinary picture frame. Then, [Christoph] strung together a series of BulletPixel2 LEDs in parallel. The BulletPixel2 LEDs are 8mm tri-color LEDs that also contain a small controller chip. This allows them to be controlled serially using just one wire. It’s similar to having an RGB LED strip, minus the actual strip. [Christoph] used 50 LEDs when all was said and done. The LEDs were mounted into the photo frame along the three main train lines; red, green, and blue. The color of the LED obviously corresponds to the color of the train line.

The train location data is pulled from the Internet using a Raspberry Pi. The information must be pulled constantly in order to keep the map accurate and up to date. The Raspberry Pi then communicates with an Arduino Uno, which is used to actually control the string of LEDs. The electronics can all be hidden behind the photo frame, out of sight. The final product is a slick “radar” for the local train system.

Raspberry Pi Gets VGA, Dual Screen Support


The Broadcom SOC in the Raspberry Pi is actually surprisingly powerful, it turns out. It’s actually capable of driving a VGA monitor through the GPIO pins using a handful of resistors.

[Gert van Loo], Raspberry Pi chip architect, wizard, and creator of a number of interesting expansion boards showed off a VGA adapter for the new B+ model at the recent Raspberry Pi Jam in Cambridge this week. Apparently, there is a parallel interface on the SoC that can be used to drive VGA with hardware using a resistor ladder DAC. That’s native VGA at 1080p at 60 fps in addition to HDMI for the Raspberry Pi. Only the new Model B+ has enough pins to do this, but it’s an intriguing little board.

The prospect of having two displays for a Raspberry Pi is very interesting, and the remaining four GPIOs available mean a touch screen could be added to one display, effectively making a gigantic Nintendo DS. Of course there are more practical problems a dual display Raspi solves, like driving a projector for the current crop of DSP/resin 3D printers, while still allowing for a usable interface during a print.

The VGA expansion board, “is likely to have issues with EMC,” which means this probably won’t be a product. Getting a PCB made and soldering SMD resistors isn’t that hard, though, and we’ll post an update when the board files are released.

Thanks [Uhrheber] for sending this one in.

HackerSpace Monitor Monitors Hackerspace Environment

Hackerspace Monitor

What’s going on at the Hackerspace? If you can’t answer that, maybe your ‘space needs a HackerSpace Monitor. [Tayken] over at the Tokyo Hackerspace has come up with a way to remotely monitor all the stuff you’d want to know about the ‘space.

His project is based on a Raspberry Pi with a webcam connected to the Pi’s USB port by way of a hub. The webcam is set up to stream 2 frames per second, which is plenty to be able to judge the activity at the ‘space. A WiFi dongle is also plugged into the USB hub in order to gain internet access, send out the video and allow the ability to SSH into the Pi.

What if you’re on the fence about heading over to work on your favorite project but the current weather leaves you wondering what the temperature is going to be like at the hackerspace? Well, this project has that covered too. An off the shelf temperature and humidity sensor plugs directly into the Pi’s GPIO pins. [Tayken] used the Python-based package, RPi.GPIO, to manage the temperature and humidity sensor readings as well as a toggle switch that monitors if the main door is open or closed.

To get everything all the above information to be displayed on a webpage, [Tayken] had to do some fancy programming. Luckily for us, he has made all his code available for download. Not only is this a great convenience for members, but it can also show non-members when it is or isn’t a good time to show up to check the ‘space out.

Adding I/O to the Rasberry Pi Models A & B

PiMagic RaspPi to Arduino Shield Interface

The Raspberry Pi has been the basis for many cool projects. Even so, Models A and B have been criticized for having only a handful of GPIO pins available. Sure, the new Model B+ has a 40-pin GPIO header but what if you want to use your old RaspPi with a bunch of in and outputs? [Steve] is one of those guys and has done something about it by creating a pretty neat solution he calls the PiMagic. It’s a Pi Plate that has an on board ATMEGA328 running an Arduino bootloader. The RaspPi and the Arduino communicate via UART as [Steve] felt it was a bit simpler than going the SPI or I2C route.

The RaspPi GPIO’s run on 3.3v and the ATMEGA328’s like 5v. To solve this, the PiMagic has a Level Shifter that keeps the I/O of the two boards happy. Older Pi’s had a problem burning out PCB traces when supplying too much current on the 5v supply line. [Steve] threw in a fuse that will burn out before the Pi does to ensure that no Pi’s were harmed in the making of this project.

Now that a bunch of I/O are available, how do you physically access them? Well, the PiMagic has female headers in the typical Arduino layout. This way any Arduino Shield will plug right in. [Steve] made all his source files available for those who want to make one themselves. Find an assembly video after the break.

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THP Semifinalist: Secure Your Internets with Web Security Everywhere


[Arcadia Labs] has created a great little device in Web Security Everywhere, a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize. At the center of it all is UnJailPi, a Raspberry Pi device which can act as a secure router between a protected network and the unprotected internet. UnJailPi can create OpenVPN and Tor connections on the fly from its touch screen interface. The full details are right up on [Arcadia's] Hackaday.io project page.

One of the most amazing things about the project is its creator, [Arcadia Labs]. [Arcadia] started from square one learning python just 1 year ago. Since then he’s become a proficient python coder, and created UnJailPi’s  entire user interface with pygame.

[Arcadia] is also working with simple hand tools. He has no access to the CNC routers, 3D printers, or milling machines used in many of the projects we see here on Hackaday. All the work on UnJailPi’s acrylic case was done with a handsaw, a file, and a heck of a lot of patience.

Currently [Arcadia's] biggest hurdle is finding a good power supply for his project. UnJailPi is designed to work both on AC or an internal battery. His current power circuit throws off enough heat that the Raspberry Pi resets while the battery is charging.

We’re sure [Arcadia] will figure out his power issues, but if you have any suggestions, leave a comment here, or head over to the project page and let him know!

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

WiFi Raspberry Pi Touchscreen Camera


Adafruit has a tutorial on their site that shows how to fashion together a cloud-connected, point-and-shoot camera. The best part of this project is that it can be customized to the heart’s content, unlike traditional digital cameras or smartphones. The integrated touchscreen and open-source computing allows for Instagram-like filters that can be scrolled through easily. No case is needed, but a 3D printed one can be attached for a more polished outcome.

The backup system of this Raspberry Pi-enabled device connects wirelessly to the internet and uploads the photos through the use of a Dropbox API. This functionality is great for syncing the camera to a cloud based server which then can be turned into a makeshift picture database for a website. The camera might be good for recording timelapse photography as well where a program could automatically create GIFs from the backup photos. It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to make either, especially because Adafruit pretty much always provides great documentation. Their videos are usually good too. The one posted below is relatively short, but provides enough information to see how it works.

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