Home audio and lighting taken over by the Raspberry Pi

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We’re beginning to see a lot of momentum building for using Raspberry Pi boards as the basis of your home automation. This latest offering from [Iain Hamilton] combines lighting and audio control through a single web interface. His frontend is run as a web page from the RPi board. It even includes separate layouts for mobile devices and computers in order to maximize use of the screen real estate.

Three buttons at the top of the interface allow him to configure the settings and switch between lighting and audio controls. This audio control screen issues commands to the Spotify client running on the Pi. The Mopidy package takes care of almost everything (as we’ve seen with other single-board computer Spotify servers). Future iterations will offer other streaming services like SoundCloud. [Iain's] home lighting system uses X10 modules for control. He’s using a USB dongle to facilitate control of that system.

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Multiple Raspberry Pi boards used to create video wall

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Five Rasberry Pi’s are used to drive this four-display video wall. This screenshot shows the system playing back some BBC documentaries. The sync, alignment, and video quality all seem to be spot on which makes it quite easy for your eye to assemble the images into one picture.

Each screen has its own Raspberry Pi which generates the HDMI video shown on the screen. These are fed from one central RPi board which acts as the controller. Video is pushed between the boards using the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) available through the Linux GStreamer package. Synchronization between the different video boards is taken care of using network time. [Samer] mentions that this system is scalable — each additional screen simply requires one more RPi to drive it.

The team also did some experiments with live video. They added a sixth RPi board with the camera module in order to display a live feed.

Hackaday Links: Sunday, July 21st, 2013

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Adafruit tears down a set of brainwave cat ears. They’re made by Necomimi and use your brain waves to adjust a pair of plush cat ears on the headgear.

If your desktop computer is sitting on the floor you may have damaged USB dongles by hitting them with your knees. [Megacier] prevents this from happening again by building a flexible dongle link.

Can anyone help [Brian Benchoff] find a datasheet for this International Rectifier 92-O350 so he can fix up his old VT100 terminal?

Here’s a quick example of how to graph data from a Raspberry Pi on the sen.se cloud service.

Have some extra fun with your oscilloscope by displaying any image. This set of conversions starts with a picture and ends with an audio file that will draw it on the scope’s screen.

You’ve probably already heard that the Sikorsky Prize for human powered helicopter has been claimed. If you didn’t see any footage of the flight now’s your chance. [Thanks Adam]

Simple looking Antique Internet Radio has a lot under the hood

rpi-internet-radioAt first glance you might not even notice that this 1934 radio has been altered. But close study of the tuning dial will tip you off that changes have been made. It still scrolls through stations just like the original. But it’s not a wheel with some numbers on it. The rotary motion is an effect produced by an LCD screen.

This is the second time we’ve seen one of [Florian Amrhein's] Internet radio projects. The first used guts from a Laptop paired with an Arduino to pull everything together. This time he’s chosen to wield a Raspberry Pi board. It feeds a USB sound card for a bit better quality. A small amplifier board us used to power one large speaker behind the original grill of the radio.

Check out the demo video to see that radio dial in action. It’s delightful that he went to the trouble to emulate a rotating disc to keep with the theme of the project.

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The most advanced microwave you’ll ever own

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Voice activation, one-touch cooking, web controls, cooking settings based on UPC… have you ever seen a microwave with all of these features? We sure haven’t. We thought it was nice that ours have a reheat button with three different settings. But holy crap, what if you could actually program your microwave to the exact settings of your choice? You can, if you let a Raspberry Pi do the cooking.

This hack run deep and results in a final product with a high WAF. Nathan started by taking apart his old microwave. He took pictures of the flexible sheets that make up the control button matrix in order to reverse engineer their design. This led him to etch his own circuit board to hook the inputs up to a Raspberry Pi board and take command of all the appliance’s other hardware. Because it also drives the seven segment display you’ll never see the wrong time on this appliance again. It’s set based on NTP.

We mentioned you can tweak settings for a specific food. The best way of doing this is shown in the demo video. The web interface is used to program the settings. Recalling them is as simple as using the barcode reader to scan the UPC. Amazing.

Now you can keep that old microwave working, rather than just scraping it for parts.

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Web based automation courtesy of Raspberry Pi

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This project is a great example of the Raspberry Pi’s ability to eclipse Arduino when it comes to interaction. [Fall Deaf] mentions that he used to use an Arduino board with an Ethernet shield to add extensible interactivity to his project. But this one, which is a home automation lamp project, uses a Raspberry Pi instead. The concepts end up being very similar. But the cost of the hardware is less and the coding work is arguably orders of magnitude easier.

Don’t get us wrong, the hardware is fundamentally different. When you move from Arduino to RPi you lose some I/O pins and the low level control of them isn’t quite as straight-forward. But you also don’t have to program the thing in C. The Linux kernel handles the low level control which means you can write your scripts using Python. Because Python is an interpreted language the testing and debugging is much faster — no need to flash new code, just run the script again.

This project used the RPi GPIO to drive a strip of LEDs which use the WS2801 protocol. The board includes a NIC which makes it a snap to use as a web server. The smart phone controls seen above are served up from the Pi using jQuery. Right now there’s a cord running out of the lamp. But there should be plenty of room to use a screw-in outlet adapter and to hide the RPi and its PSU inside.

The board still has enough juice to drive other automation features too, like acting as a web radio server.

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Bolstering Raspberry Pi HDMI with a current regulator

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We’ve never tried using an HDMI to VGA converter with Raspberry Pi. We heard they were expensive and have always just used HDMI out (although DVI would be just as easy). Apparently if you have a VGA converter that isn’t powered the RPi board may output unstable video due to lack of current from the connector. [Orlando Cosimo] shows how to fix the problem with a few inexpensive components.

Just this morning we saw a portable PSU using an LM317. This project uses the same part, but in a different way. [Orlando] uses three resistors in parallel to make the LM317 behave like a current regulator (as opposed to a voltage regulator) which will output about 550 milliamps. Input voltage is pulled directly from the 5V line of the microUSB port. The output is injected into the HDMI connector. This will boost the amount of juice available to the unpowered VGA converter, stabilizing the system.

There are a lot of other power hacks out there for the RPi. One of our favorites is pulling the stock linear regulator in favor of a switch mode regulator.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]