Add Data To Your Shipping Suspicions With This Power-Sipping Datalogger

One only has to ship one or two things via a container, receiving them strangely damaged on the other end, before you start to wonder about your shipper. Did they open this box and sort of stomp around a bit? Did I perhaps accidentally contract a submarine instead of a boat? Did they take a detour past the sun? How could this possibly have melted?

[Jesus Echavarria]‘s friend had similar fears and suspicions about a box he is going to have shipped from Spain to China. So [Jesus] got to work and built this nice datalogger to discover the truth. Since the logger might have to go for a couple of months, it’s an exercise in low power design.

The core of the build is a humble PIC18. Its job is to take the information from an ambient light, temperature, and humidity sensor suite and dump it all to an SD card. Aside from the RTC, this is all powered from a generic LiPo power cell. The first iteration can run for 10 days on one charge, and that’s without any of the low power features of the microcontroller enabled. It should be able to go for much longer once it can put itself to sleep for a period.

It’s all housed in a 3D printed case with some magnets to stick it to shell of the shipping container. Considering the surprisingly astronomical price of commercial dataloggers, it’s a nice build!

Getting a Nest thermostat to work in Europe

[Julian] was really excited to get his hands on a Nest learning thermostat. It’s round, modern design will make it a showpiece in his home, but he knew there would be a few hiccups when trying to take advantage of its online features. That’s because [Julian] lives in Spain, and Nest is only configured to work in North America. But as you can see above, he did a bit of hacking to get it displaying his actual location.

The Nest is web-connected and phones home to the company’s server to handle configuration. Since they’ve made the decision to only support a portion of the world [Julian] had to do a little bit of digging to bend it to his will. He used Wireshark to sniff the packets it was sending. The calls to the company’s server use SSL, but the device also contacts the Weather Underground for data and this is not encrypted. So he was able to intercept that with his router and inject custom information. It’s not a full solution, but he’s part way there.

We’d really like to see what is possible with this device so please send us a link to any Nest hacks of your own.

WiFi telescope

We Make Money Not Art recently visited the LABoral Art and Industrial Creation Centre in Gijón, Spain. The installation that left the strongest impression on [Regine] was the WiFi sightseeing telescope built by Clara Boj and Diego Diaz. Spain is in a situation similar to the USA: A few years ago many municipal WiFi projects launched only to be squashed because of theoretical unfair competition with local utilities. Now commercial projects like WeFi, Whisher, and FON encourage people to “share” their WiFi. Observatorio (Observatory) is designed to provide insight into the current state of local WiFi. It uses a highly directional Yagi antenna to collect wireless access data from the local area. The antenna has a 30deg aperture which is matched to a camera with an identical field of view. The observer sees the camera’s viewpoint with the WiFi data overlaid showing where accesspoints are and whether the AP is open. WMMNA also recommends you check out the WiFi Camera which photographs electromagnetic space.