VGA message board displays SMS without a computer

[Achu Wilson's] latest creation is a VGA message board which is written to via SMS text messages. This doesn’t sound too interesting at first, until you find out he’s doing this with a microcontroller rather than a PC. All of the complexity is in the code that drives the VGA. He managed to do it without any jitter while using an 8-bit microcontroller.

But first, the cellular side of things. A GSM modem takes care of connectivity. To communicate with the modem [Achu] used an ATmega8. He mentions the he could have used a much smaller uC, like an ATtiny, but this is what he had lying around. When a message is received the ATmega8 feeds the characters to an ATmega16 which is driving the VGA monitor. Rather than deal with the analog voltages necessary to run a color display he simply ganged the three color lines together and drives them from one of the microcontroller pins. This results in white and black which correspond to voltage or no voltage.

You can see him showing off the system in the clip after the break.

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SMS remote start gives new life to your old smartphone

iphone-sms-remote-start

Hack a Day alum [Will O’Brien] recently upgraded his phone, and was trying to find a use for his old one. He always wanted a remote starter for his Subaru Outback, but wasn’t interested in paying for an off the shelf kit. Since he had this old smartphone kicking around, he thought that it would be the perfect starting point for an SMS-triggered remote start system.

He started off by jailbreaking his phone, which allows him to run some Perl scripts that are used to listen for incoming texts. Using a PodBreakout mini from Sparkfun he connected the phone to an Arduino, which is responsible for triggering the car’s ignition. Now, a simple text message containing the start command and a password can start his car from a anywhere in the world.

While [Will] is quite happy with his setup he already has improvements in mind, including a way for the Arduino to send a message back to him via SMS confirming that the car has been successfully started. He’s thinking about putting together a kit for others looking to add the same functionality to their own car, so be sure to check his site periodically for project updates.

LED sexting belt buckle

For some ungodly reason, [Scott] has a friend that wanted a ‘sexting themed’ Halloween costume. We won’t try to make any presumptions of the creativity or mental stability of [Scott]‘s friend, but the SMS scrolling LED belt buckle he came up with is pretty cool.

The belt is based around a $13 scrolling LED belt buckle [Scott] found online. There was a problem with the belt buckle, though. Thirteen dollars means [Scott] didn’t get a whole lot of features with his buckle, so there are only 3 buttons on the entire device: letter up, letter down, and enter. Instead of pressing a button 80 times to get a lowercase ‘z,’ an Arduino was thrown into the mix to take care of all the button pressing.

The Arduino sketch could now input any message into the belt buckle in a matter of seconds. All that was left to do is taking care of the SMS to text part of the build. For this, [Scott] used the Sparkfun USB Host Shield and a custom Android app. Whenever an SMS is received on the phone, the message is sent through the USB shield to the Arduino and output on the belt buckle.

We won’t make any assumptions about the content of the messages during the Halloween party, but at least the video demo of the build is family friendly. Check it out after the break.

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Giving Siri the keys to your house

We haven’t really covered many hacks having to do with Apple’s newest iPhone feature Siri. We’d bet you’ve already heard a bunch about the voice-activated AI assistant and here’s your chance to give it the keys to your house. This project uses Siri to actuate the deadbolt on an entry door in a roundabout sort of way.

This is really just a Siri frontend for an SMS entry system seen in several other hacks. The inside of the door (pictured above) has a servo motor mounted next to, and attached via connecting rod with, the lever-style deadbolt. An Arduino equipped with a WiFly shield controls that servo and is waiting for instructions from the Google app engine. But wait, they’re not done yet. The app engine connects to a Twilio account which gives it the ability to receive SMS messages. Long story short; Siri is sending a text message that opens the door… eventually. You can seen in the demo after the break that the whole process takes over twenty seconds from the time you first access Siri to the point the bolt is unlocked. Still, it’s a fine first prototype.

There’s a fair amount of expensive hardware on that door which we’d like to see converted to extra feaures. [CC Laan] has already added one other entry method, using a piezo element to listen for a secret knock. But we think there’s room for improvement. Since it’s Internet connected we’d love to see a sensor to monitor how often the door is opened, and perhaps a PIR sensor that would act as a motion-sensing burglar alert system.

Don’t need something this complicated? How about implementing just the secret knock portion of the hack?

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Build your own SMS chatroom

While he was organizing a party, [Mike Seese] hit upon the idea of chatroom that would operate over SMS. Not being content with the ‘reply all’ function, [Mike] built a Group Messaging Service that runs on his home server.

The chat room is initiated by sending a text to a server. Your friends then reply, and the chatroom is then opened. The project was written in C++, and [Mike] put everything on github for your perusal. The software does use libraries from /n software’s IP*Works, but if you have any trouble obtaining those libraries feel free to drop [Mike] a line.

The great thing about this project is the fact that it’s platform independent – as long as a phone can do SMS, it’ll work. Seems like a great thing for those of us still using the old Nokia ‘bar’ phones. An SMS chatroom has been done before but this is the first time we’ve seen a build that will run off your server, and not internet-based services.

While it may not be the best idea for people without unlimited texts on their phone plan, it’s a really great idea and we’re wondering why something like this isn’t available via Google Voice.

Only losers text message on cellphones – this guy carries his own teletype for that

Yes, that’s an SMS text messaging device. [Mdziewie] decided that texting on a regular cellphone was too boring and decided to build himself an old-school SMS gateway. Here’s a translated link but the formatting of the forum post gets screwed up with the machine translation.

The device he’s using is an ASR-33 Teletype machine, which was introduced to the market in 1963. It is connected to a GSM modem via an ARM microcontroller, the STM32F103. This chip, along with a few electronic components, let [Mdziewie] design an interface that doesn’t require alteration to the ancient hardware. The forum post linked above includes video of this sending and receiving texts. It’s awesomely loud as it hammers away at the paper, and seems to work as expected.

If you hunger for one of your own but don’t have half-century old equipment there’s still hope. Find yourself a typewriter and turn it into a teletype machine.

SMS gateway lets you Twitter by text message

[GuySoft] threw together a cellphone-based SMS gateway that allows him to push text messages to Twitter. Once up and running, it can be used by multiple people, either with shared or individual Twitter accounts. At its core, this setup uses the cellphone as a tethered modem on a Linux box. The open source software package, Gammu SMSD, provides hardware hooks for phones running in modem mode. The package is already in the Ubuntu repositories but it runs cross-platform and can be downloaded from the project site. This gave [GuySoft] the ability to script a framework that checks for received SMS messages, compares the incoming phone number for a match on a saved list, then pushes the message from a confirmed number to Twitter via their API.

A web interface is used to register new numbers and associate them with Twitter accounts. On the back-end, [GuySoft's] own Python script handles the translation of the message. You can download all of the code, and get more insight on setup from the readme file, over at the GitHub repository.

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