A different type of Arduino Internet shield


The cost of an Ethernet shield for an Arduino isn’t horrible; generally between $17 and $32 depending on which one you buy. But have you seen the cost of a WiFi shield? Those are running North of $70! [Martin Melchior] has a solution that provides your choice of Ethernet or WiFi at a low-cost and it’ll work for most applications. He’s using a WiFi router as an Arduino Internet shield.

This is the TP-Link WR703N which has been very popular with hackers because of its combination of low price (easy to find at $25 or less) and many features: the USB is super hand and, well, it’s a WiFi router! The Arduino Pro Mini shown dead-bug style is talking to the router using its serial port. [Martin] wires a pin socket to the router, which makes the rest of assembly as easy as plugging the two together. The rest of his post deals with handling bi-directional communications with Arduino code.

If you really just need that direct Ethernet pipe consider building an ENC28J60 chip into your designs.

TP-Link router turned into a DALI automated lighting controller


The members of Shackspace continue to put up impressive hacks based around the tiny TP-Link routers. This time around [Timm] has shoehorned a DALI controller inside the router case. This is a protocol we don’t remember hearing about before. The Digital Addressable Lighting Interface is a control network for commercial lighting. That way people responsible for taking care of large buildings can shut off all the lights at night (to name just one use). The new room at Shackspace has this style of controllers in its lights.

The two brown wires coming into the router make up the data bus for the DALI system. It connects to the add-on PCB which uses an Atmel AT90PWM316 microcontroller. The chip is specifically designed for DALI networks which made the rest of the project quite easy. It talks to the lights, the router talks to it, bob’s your uncle, and you’ve got network controlled lighting. Get this in a big enough building and you can play some Tetris.

In case you were wondering. Yes, this project has already been added to their TP-Link firmware generator.

SenseLamp automates rooms by replacing light fixtures


Would you believe that this beautiful light fixture is actually a hacked together home automation project? Okay, so this wire mess is the second of three versions that [Christian] built. It replaces a light fixture in the room, but if you look closely you’ll see that there is a compact fluorescent bulb included in the build. The laser-cut frame acts as a bit of a lamp shade, while providing a place to mount the rest of the hardware.

The final version cleans things up a bit, and adds a footprint for the PIR motion sensor that he forgot to design into this version. The idea is that each lamp monitors motion in the room, switching the light on and off again as necessary. A light-dependent resistor ensures that the bulb is only powered up if the room is dark so as not to waste electricity during the day.

The build includes a sensor package that reports back temperature and humidity data. Communications are provided by a WR703N router rolled into each of the four units installed in his house. With this kind of hardware at his disposal it should be a snap to control every IR remote control device in his house via the network by adding an IR LED and some code to the lamps.

The Keypad Contest


What can you do with ten buttons and ten lights? A lot.

[Andrew] and [Nathan] found a collection of Hale Research keypads being thrown out, and decided to host the Keypad Contest. The goal of the contest was to create something nifty using the ten buttons and ten lights on the keypad, and an ATtiny2313 that replaced the original 8051-compatible microcontroller in the device.

[Andrew] wanted to try making PCBs with his home-built CNC machine, so he milled out USBtinyISP programmers for the ATtiny2313. Then he gave out eleven development kits to a group, and explained how to develop on the hardware.

After a month of hacking, seven people completed projects. The winner was an internet radio controller, which had the keypad sending serial data to a TP-Link WR703N router. The router used a USB sound card and OpenWRT firmware to stream music. The runner up was a timing game called “Capture”.

The contest write up has details on all seven projects. [Andrew] and [Nathan] were successful in getting software engineers to try hardware with this contest, resulting in some neat hacks. After the break, check out a video demo of the internet radio controller.

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TP-Link TL-WR703N specialized firmware generator


Seen at the center of this image is a TP-Link TL-MR3020 which is basically a TL-WR703N wireless router with a few extra LEDs. We’ve seen a lot of projects using this hardware and that’s because it’s cheap and ripe for hacking. The devices can run OpenWRT, a Linux distro for routers that greatly extends the functionality when compared to the stock firmware. Now a couple of members of Shackspace — a hackerspace in Stuttgart, Germany — have written a script that automatically generates specialized firmware for the router. That link goes to their wiki page about the script, but you may find this overview post to be an easier read.

The concept is that gathering specialized hacks into easy to flash packages does away with a lot of configuration headaches. For example, if you just want to play around with an NFC reader for a day-long event you can connect hardware like what is seen above and use the NFC-gate option of the script to flash firmware meant to drive it. So far there’s also support for streaming a USB webcam, serving as a USB network bridge, and a few others. But the whole point of this is to make it simple to roll new firmware mods into the script that make it easy to preserve the work for use at a later time.

[Thanks Hadez]

Outlet charging station retrofitted with the guts of a WiFi router

While wandering around the aisles of his local electronics store this Westinghouse USB charging station caught [James'] eye. He sized it up and realized it would make the perfect enclosure for a small WiFi router. And so began his project to turn a TP-Link TL-WR703N into a DIY Pwn Plug.

The basic idea is to include hidden capabilities in an otherwise normal-looking device. For instance, take a look at this ridiculously overpriced power strip that also happens to spy on your activities. It doesn’t sound like [James] has any black hat activities planned, but just wanted an interesting application for the router.

He removed the original circuit board from the charging station to make room for his own internals. He inserted a cellphone charger to power the router, then desoldered the USB ports and RJ-45 connector for the circuit board to be positioned in the openings of the case. He even included a headphone jack that breaks out the serial port. There’s a lot of new stuff packed into there, but all of the original features of the charging station remain intact.

Turning a plush Dalek into a WiFi enabled robot

You can now “EX-TER-MIN-ATE!” with one finger since this plush Dalek from Doctor Who has been turned into a wireless robot. The build started out with the toy whose only trick was to spout quotes from the popular science fiction television series. [Madox] took it apart to see how it worked, then added some of his own goodies to make it better.

We just looked in on a project from this guy on Tuesday. It was a light painting wand that used the TP-Link TL-WR703N wireless router. This uses the same tiny hardware as the controller. Since it’s a WiFi router it’s quite simple to serve up a control interface on any browser. To make it all work [Madox] designed and printed a new base plate. This provides brackets on which the two servo motors can  be mounted. It also gives him a place to anchor the driver board and the router itself. The original voice hardware is still there, driven by a connection to the router hardware. See the final product in the clip after the jump.

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