Bluetooth Thingies at Maker Faire

In case you haven’t noticed, one of the more popular themes for new dev boards is Bluetooth. Slap a Bluetooth 4.0 module on a board, and you really have something: just about every phone out there has it, and the Low Energy label is great for battery-powered Internets of Things.

Most of these boards fall a little short. It’s one thing to throw a Bluetooth module on a board, but building the software to interact with this board is another matter entirely. Revealing Hour Creations is bucking that trend with their Tah board. Basically, it’s your standard Arduino compatible board with a btle module. What they’ve done is add the software for iOS and Android that makes building stuff easy.

Putting Bluetooth on a single board is one thing, but how about putting Bluetooth on everything. SAM Labs showed off their system of things at Maker Faire with LEDs, buttons, fans, motors, sensors, and just about every electrical component you can imagine.

All of these little boards come with a Bluetooth module and a battery. The software for the system is a graphical interface that allows you to draw virtual wires between everything. Connect a button to a LED in the software, and the LED will light up when the button is pressed. Move your mouse around the computer, and the button will turn on a motor when it’s pressed.

There are a few APIs that also come packaged into the programming environment – at the booth, you could open a fridge (filled with cool drinks that didn’t cost five dollars, a surprise for the faire) and it would post a tweet.

Roll with Dicebot, the Tweeting Dice Roller


[David] modernized a 1920’s dice rolling game to bring us DiceBot, a twitter enabled dice rolling robot. DiceBot started with an antique dice tin. The original tin was human controlled. Pushing a button on the side of the tin would spin the bottom, rolling the dice.

It’s a bit hard to push a button from across the world, so [David] added a small motor to spin the tin. He connected the motor to a simple L298 motor driver chip, and wired that up to a Raspberry Pi. The Pi runs a few custom Ruby scripts which get it on the internet and connect to the Twitter API.

Operation is pretty straightforward. A tweet to @IntrideaDiceBot with the hashtag #RollTheDice will cause the Dicebot to spin up the dice. Once things have settled, DiceBot captures an image with its Raspberry Pi camera. The dice values are checked using OpenCV. The results are then tweeted back, and displayed on DiceBot’s results page.

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Oinker is Twitter for HAMs


Have you ever wanted to send a quick message to your HAM radio buddies over the air but then realized you forgot your radio at home? [Troy] created Oinker to remedy this problem. Oinker is a Perl script that turns emails into audio.

The script monitors an email account for new messages and then uses the Festival text-to-speech engine to transform the text into audio. [Troy] runs Oinker on a Raspberry Pi, with the Pi’s audio output plugged directly into an inexpensive ham radio. The radio is then manually tuned to the desired transmit frequency. Whenever Oinker see’s a new email, that message is converted into speech and then output to the transmitter.

The script automatically appends your HAM radio call sign to the end of every message to ensure you stay within FCC regulations. Now whenever [Troy] runs into some bad traffic on the road, he can send a quick SMS to his email address and warn his HAM radio buddies to stay clear of the area.

Hackaday at Maker Faire


If you are planning your trip to Maker Faire Bay Area — May 17th and 18th — why not hunt down the Hackaday crew? We’ll be packing a ton of swag to give out to anyone who asks for it. But ideally we’d like to show off the best hardware we can find so don’t come empty-handed!

Want your Maker Faire stuff featured on Hackaday? You can Tweet in advance to let us know when you’ll be there and what you’re bringing. You can also track us down during the weekend as we’ll be frequently Tweeting our locations. Here is the contact list and information on some festivities we’re planning:

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Hackaday Twitter hits 40,000 Followers!


I’m not sure exactly how many readers keep an eye on our Twitter account: @hackaday. We hit a new milestone today at 40,000 followers. For those of you who have been watching the Twitter feed recently, you’ve probably noticed it’s no longer limited to simply announcing each new post as it hits the front page. Madness, right?

A little over a week ago [Mike] promoted me to the role of Community Editor; a new position here aimed at directly engaging readers. For now, that means helping to guide conversations in the comments toward a degree of helpfulness and productivity. I’ve also sent out a handful of tweets to sort of test the waters, but considering my job is to engage the community, I thought I’d just ask! What can we at Hackaday be doing differently with social media (particularly Twitter) that you would find valuable? Hit up the comments and let us know, or join the conversation on Twitter: #HaDSuggestionBox

A Twitter Connected Mechanical Calculator

The TwitALU

Two students at the University of Bristol wanted to create a computer to demonstrate how ALUs work. The result is the TwitALU, a Twitter connected mechanical calculator.

The device uses a custom 7400 series ALU based on the famous MOS 6502 processor. Instead of doing the calculations on a silicon die, the ALU drives mechanical relays. This produces a nice clicky-clacky sound as the calculation is computed.

To start a calculation, you tweet @twittithmetic with your input. A Raspberry Pi is used to load the instructions into the ALU. Once the computation is done, it’s tweeted back to you and displayed on the Nixie tube display. It’s not efficient, or fast, but it does the job of demonstrating the inner workings of the device while doing simple math.

The device’s schematics are all available on the website, and are helpful for understanding how a simple ALU works. After the break, check out a quick clip of the TwitALU in action.

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