Controlling a terminal with Google Voice


For how awesome Google Voice is, we’re surprised we haven’t seen this before. [Steve] is using Google Voice to run commands on just about any Linux box.

Google Voice doesn’t have an official API, and existing unofficial APIs weren’t up to snuff for [Steve]’s project. He ended up writing his own that checks his unread message inbox every minute and looks for new text messages beginning with the phrase, ‘Cmd’. If a series of checks pass – the text coming from a known phone number and a proper terminal command – the command runs and sends the a text back indicating success or failure.

While [Steve] probably won’t be playing nethack or Zork via SMS anytime soon, we can see this being very useful for a Raspi home automation task. Just send a text message and a properly configured Linux box can open your garage door, turn on the lights, or even start a webcam.

Sega controller houses auto-launch emulator

[Joe’s] wife grew up playing Sega games and he wanted to help her unwind by reliving the experience. Since the work computer she uses when travelling isn’t a good place to install emulators he built this plug-and-play emulator inside of a Sega controller.

We’ve seen this type of thing a few times before (even with XBMC in a SNES controller) but there is one thing we hadn’t thought of lately. Newer versions of Windows have auto-launch disabled for USB drives. But [Joe] knew that there were still some USB sticks that manage to auto-launch anyway so he researched how those work. It turns out that they have two partitions, one is formatted as a CDFS which looks like a CD-ROM to Windows and allows auto-launch. He used this method of partitioning a USB stick, storing the ROMs on the mass storage partition and the emulator and the CDFS partition. To finish the hack he cracked open the controller and found room for a USB hub and the PCB from the thumb drive.

If you still have cartridges lying around you can pull the ROMs off of them over USB.

New Year’s Eve countdown clock included SMS interactivity


We remember several years back, when text messaging was first becoming popular, we went to a bar which had a huge television that would display text messages sent to a particular number. This sounds like a novelty, but in a large group of folks who know one another it’s the sandbox of social games. Wanting to tap in on that fun for his New Year’s Eve party, [James] built this countdown timer that includes an element of SMS interactivity.

The rig is projector based. A computer using Processing does the majority of the work but [James] needed a way to accepts text messages (the locale of the party had no Internet connection so this was the best bet). He grabbed a GSM shield and his Arduino Leonardo. The bulk of the evening the display showed the last few messages received, with a small countdown timer in the lower corner. As the countdown approached zero the time was given prominence as in the image above. We guess he was lucky to find a prepaid SIM card that allowed free incoming text messages. Our cell provider charges us 20¢ for each.

You might give this one a whirl next year. If it’s not quite your thing take a look around. We’ve seen a lot of fun setups like this mini ball drop.

Hackaday Links: November 9, 2012

Yeah, it’s like Twitter but actually cool

Thingiverse – still the best place on the Internet to find cool 3D models to print out – has gone all Web 3.0 with their new Dashboard feature. Basically, you can think of this as Thingiverse’s version of Twitter. The dashboard allows you to see the latest updates from people you like, follow people, categories, and tags, and check out your all-important ‘who’s following me’ stats. Yes, to the Hackaday crowd it may sound a little lame, but it’s a great way to winnow the (awesome) wheat from the (slightly less awesome) chaff.

Hey, we goofed. And not by using the same image twice

Remember when we jumped on the Occupy Thingiverse bandwagon? Well, there were questions about the Thingiverse Terms of Service and confusion that Makerbot actually owns everything uploaded to Thingiverse. That’s completely wrong according to Makerbot’s lawyer [Rich McCarthy]. The whole issue dealt with “Moral Rights or attribution” – a French legal doctrine that isn’t part of US law (or the law of any English-derived legal system as far as we can tell). Yeah, we goofed.

Now u cn snd SMS msgs wit n ‘ino & cell sheld

[Meir] sent in a cellular library for microcontroller projects that allows for simple sending and receiving of SMS messages. Yes, it’s been done before, but [Meir] hid all the hardware interaction with the cellular shield – a good design practice – to make the code nice and tidy.

And you thought PVC was bad…

Just in time for Thanksgiving, [Lou] shows us the fastest way to make mashed potatoes: an oxygen and propane powered potato gun. The build uses oxy and propane tanks you can pick up for a few bucks at any hardware store, steel pipe for the barrel, a grill igniter, and a few pipe fittings. It’s awesome, and we’ve got to hand it to [Lou] for this one. Now to build one and test it out on our indestructible test dummy.

It’s just like the Raspberry Pi! They’re that backordered!

Remember the Stellaris Launchpad, the very cool (and very inexpensive) ARM dev board put out by TI? Yeah, they’re shipping now. News of this comes from [Ryan Holtz] at Autodesk after the FedEx guy came knocking a few days ago. The good news is they’re shipping, the bad news is the price increased slightly to $13.


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


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.

Continue reading “LED sexting belt buckle”