Xbee remote sensors tell you when someone enters your home

[Bill Porter] is helping a friend out by designing a simple security system for her home. It relies on Xbee modules to alert a base station when doors are opened, or a pressure mat is stepped on.

The door sensors are quite simple, and you’re probably already familiar with them. One part mounts to the door and has a magnet in it, the mating part mounts to the jamb and has a reed switch that closes a contact when the magnet is in place. The floor mat uses two sheets of conductive material separated by bits of foam. When it is stepped on a circuit is completed and can be sensed by the Xbee as a button press.

These sensors report back to an Arduino base station that has a buzzer and three 8×8 LED modules to scroll a message saying which sensor was tripped. [Bill] does a good job of showing what goes into configuring an Xbee network if you’ve never worked with the hardware before.

You’ll find his demo video after the break.

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Music-synced Christmas light suit

Ah, the end of the 4th financial quarter – the magical time of increased sales, being at work the entire time the sun is up, and holiday parties. For [Andy] at National Instruments, though, things don’t seem too bad. He built a neat Christmas light suit to entertain everyone with his brilliant persona.

[Andy] always loves great Christmas light displays (he even blogs about them), so he figured a wearable light display synchronized with music would be very doable. The build is controlled with LabVIEW to convert .WAV files to power levels and frequency bands. This info is then piped into the Arduino that controls the lights.

[Andy] actually made two light suits, one for him and one for his friend [Richard]. Both guys have two light-up Christmas staffs to wield light mage powers on their coworkers. The lighsuits are controlled by Arduino/Xbee setups – one each for each suit and staff. The result is phenomenal, and should really get everyone in the holiday spirit.

For the Trade Show Booth That Has Everything, a Blimp!

Trade shows are all about attracting attention and getting people to learn about your product, so what could be better than a custom-built RC blimp? Sure, you could just buy one, but what’s the fun in that? After several design iterations, [Tretton37] came up with a blimp known as the [LeetZeppelin] controlled by an Arduino, an XBee module, as well as a Wiimote controller connected to a computer.

The hack itself is a great example of repurposing off-the-shelf materials into something more interesting and unique. In addition to the components listed above, hobby servos were modded to allow for thrust motor control in conjunction with Legos for the gearing and “pillow-block bearings.” A list of the “important” parts used in this hack is furnished on their site as well as a video of it in action, which is also after the break.

As for the results of this hack as a trade-show attention grabber, Fredrik Leijon had this to say: “We think that all the gazing at the sky and half opened mouths proves that it was a huge success!”

Video display from RGB strips makes it seem so easy

[Fabien] wrote in to share a link to this RGB video display which he made. He’s got some pretty cool routines that make it more functional than you would think, but first we want to comment on the construction. He used an RGB strip, which makes this look like an incredibly simple build. The strip has a data and power bus running the length of it. You can it into smaller segments, then just solder jumper wires to reconnect the buses. That’s exactly what he did here, making it what must be the fastest method of putting together a display of this size (16×10 pixels).

It’s driven by a Netduino which easily addresses the LPD8806 drivers responsible for the LEDs. It gets input from a computer via Xbee, making it easy to include data from the net, or to push visualizations. The video after the break shows a [Van Gogh] self-portrait. Since 160 pixel resolution wouldn’t do it justice, the visualization software shows a zoomed in portion of the painting which is constantly panning to let you see the entire work. It’s a fabulous effect.

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Jarvis opens the door at P-Space

It seems like every Hackerspace should have some type of kludged together access system on their entry door. [Vasilis] wrote in to share the system called Jarvis that controls access to P-Space, a Hackerspace in Patras, Greece. It’s an RFID-based system that offers a few nice features.

They already have a server running the webpage, so basing their entry system off of a computer was an easy option. You can get in one of two ways; by presenting your valid RFID tag to a reader at the front door, or by ringing the bell and having a member inside press the Big Button of Doom (BBoD) which is a wireless controller.

The BBoD has an Xbee module inside which lets it send an unlock command back to the computer. The remote is powered by two AA batteries, and since it’s never on unless the button is pressed the team estimates these batteries should last around one year.

There’s even a feedback system. The computer posts the last few events to the webpage. So you can go online and see when the BBoD was used, or who’s tag has recently unlocked the entrance to tell if your friends are there.

Portable power strip control lights and appliances using SMS


[Julian] wanted a way to remotely control various appliances and lights around his house without spending an arm and a leg on home automation. He also desired the ability to easily switch what items he was controlling without a ton of hassle. Since he couldn’t find anything reasonably priced to do what he desired, he built his own SMS-triggered remote control system.

He designed his system to be used like an extension cord, hence the portable junction box enclosure. This enables him to regulate up to four different items at a time, with the ability to swap out components or relocate his controller at will.

The power strip is controlled by an Arduino which receives commands from his PC via an Xbee module. Any text messages sent to his Gmail account are retrieved by his computer and then transmitted to the Arduino. The Arduino in turn triggers relays as designated by [Julain’s] text messages, utilizing H-bridges to provide the required current.

Check out his schematics and code if you’re interested in implementing something similar in your home.

La Crosse weather station wireless data acquisition


Hackaday reader [equinoxefr] posted some images to our flickr pool showing off some modifications he made (Google Translation) to his La Crosse WS2305 weather station. Having built other router-based weather stations in the past, [equinoxefr] was looking for a better way to gather weather data after one of the routers gave up the ghost.

With a brand new La Crosse WS2305 in hand, his goal was to feed the Lacross’ data to his HTPC which runs XBMC. He pulled the weather station apart and probed around with an oscilloscope until he could find the TTL Tx and Rx pins required to retrieve data from the unit. He hooked the data pins to an XBee wireless transmitter, which he then tucked away in the station’s battery compartment.

Another XBee unit was connected to his computer via an XBee Explorer board, and he was reading data from his weather station in no time.

While his isn’t the first La Crosse weather station hack we’ve seen around here, we like how simple and clean it is. If you’re interested, be sure to check out his flickr stream to see more images of the hacking process.