Siri proxy adds tons of functionality, doesn’t require a jailbreak


[Pete] has an iPhone 4s and loves Siri, but he wishes she had some more baked-in capabilities. While the application is technically still in beta and will likely be updated in the near future, [Pete] wanted more functionality now.

Since Apple isn’t known for their open architecture, he had to get creative. Knowing how Siri’s commands are relayed to Apple thanks to the folks at Applidium, he put together a proxy server that allows him to intercept and work with the data.

The hack is pretty slick, and doesn’t even require a jailbreak. A bit of DNS and SSL trickery is used to direct Siri’s WiFi traffic through his server, which then relays the commands to Apple’s servers for processing. On the return trip, his server interprets the data, looking for custom commands he has defined.

In the video below, he gives a brief overview of the system, then spends some time showing how he can use Siri to control his WiFi enabled thermostat. While the process only works while Siri is connected to his home network via WiFi, it’s still pretty awesome.

Continue reading “Siri proxy adds tons of functionality, doesn’t require a jailbreak”

Black Friday deals and Contest Giveaways

Winter is coming, and it’s a great time to start accumulating parts and tools to keep you occupied with projects during the dark and cold days ahead.

Black Friday

We got a tip from Pololu about their planned Black Friday deals, and thought we’d check with some of the other parts suppliers that cater to the hobby market too. Here’s what we found:

  • Adafruit Industries Black Friday – Get 10% off of your purchases made any time on Friday if you use the code ‘BLACK’ (12:00am-11:59pm — we’d guess this is Eastern Time) – UPDATE: Get 10% of Monday 11/28 with the code ‘CYBER’.
  • Pololu Black Friday – many items are available at a great discount plus extra savings using their Black Friday coupons. Sales run midnight on Thursday morning through 11:59pm on Monday night (Pacific Time, 11/24 through 11/28)
  • UPDATE: Sugru – we just got an email about a special offer for this moldable material. Now through December 19th you can get your fourth pack for free using the coupon code: YAYCHRISTMAS

We did hear back from SparkFun. They don’t have a Black Friday deal planned, but they are planning on Free Day 2012 happening some time early in the year! We’ll keep our eyes open for details, but if you hear about it before we do send us a tip.

Make also got back to us. No specific details about Black Friday, but we’re told they have some type of deals in the works.

Digikey and Mouser didn’t get back to us in time for this post.

Laser Cutter Giveaways

Do you want a laser cutter to call your own? Yeah, so do we. If you come up with a really cool project perhaps you can win one. It looks like there’s two contests a contest going on right now that is giving one away to the grand prize winner.

  • Build Lounge is giving away a 40W CO2 Deluxe Hobby Laser Cutter to the best project based on light (community votes).
  • Instructables – Oops…. we waited too long to post about this one as the contest closed on the 14th, sorry. But chances are good this will come around again. For now, you’ll have to be satisfied at viewing the entries that made the finals.

Stroboscope project uses optical drive motor and Arduino

In the quest for a diy laser cutter made from DVD burner parts (that hack’s still in the works) this guy ended up with a junk box full of optical-drive leftovers. He put some of that surplus to good use by building this stroboscope. As the media spins, the white LED just out of focus in the foreground strobes to freeze the little black figure in the same place. The effect, as seen in the video after the break, is a dancing figure created by the optical illusion.

This is the same concept as that amazing 3D rowing skeleton build, but scaled down greatly. Each of the silhouettes seen above are slightly different, showing one pose that makes up a frame of the overall animation. They’re laser cut, but some careful paper-craft could probably accomplish the same thing. Assuming you could keep them from warping when spinning at high speeds.

Continue reading “Stroboscope project uses optical drive motor and Arduino”

Experimenting with an air muscle and sensor feedback

Check out this setup that [Ruenahcmohr] is using in his air muscle experiments. The orange mesh contains an air bladder that is connected to a hose on the right side. The bladder can be filled, or emptied with two solenoid valves not seen here (but you can get a good look in the video after the break). The muscle attached to chain on the other end and is kept under constant tension by a spring. The chain bends 180 degrees around a gear which is connected to a potentiometer. This gives feedback to the ATmega32 which controlling the whole thing. This way, the slider seen above can be used to control the apparatus.

We don’t know if [Ruenahcmohr] has a use in mind for this setup, but it certainly looks promising! We’ve seen these air muscles used for haptic feedback before, but right now we’re drawing a blank when it comes to ideas. What would you use it for?

Continue reading “Experimenting with an air muscle and sensor feedback”

TI Launchpad adds computer control to a robot arm

[Eric Gregori] had an OWI535 toy robotic arm. Although cheap (coming it at around $30) the arm is only set up to be used via a wired control box. [Eric] knew he could do better by adding computer control via a TI Launchpad and motor driver peripheral.

The arm has shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints, a rotating base, and a gripper. All of these are actuated by 3V DC motors and have just two control wires. [Eric’s] motor driver add-on for the Launchpad works great in this case. It’s got three FAN8200 dual motor driver chips on board so it can control up to six motors. Once he made the hardware connections it’s just a matter of sending the commands to the Launchpad via its USB interface, but you will also need to use a larger microcontroller than comes with the Launchpad. Here he’s chosen an MSP430G2553.

In order to make things a little bit more fun he also wrote a GUI for controlling the arm from the computer. He used RobotSee, a programming language that lets you use an image of the hardware, and overlay the controls on top of it. Now he just needs to make this into a web interface and he can have a smartphone controlled crane game.

Don’t forget to check out the video after the break. Continue reading “TI Launchpad adds computer control to a robot arm”