Minimal MQTT With Micropython

I have been meaning to play around with MQTT for some time now, and finally decided to take the plunge one evening last week. I had three cheap home temperature and humidity sensors, and was bothered that they often didn’t agree. Surprisingly, while the analog one had a calibration adjustment in the back, I have no idea how to calibrate the two digital ones. I took this as a sign that it was time to learn MQTT and be able to install my own, accurate sensors. Of course, I began by ordering the cheapest sensors I could find, but I can always upgrade later on.

Three Cheap Sensors

While we have written quite a bit about MQTT in Hackaday, I had to go all the way back to 2016 to find this introductory four-part series by Elliot Williams. Five years is a long time in the tech world, but I decided to give it a try anyway. Continue reading “Minimal MQTT With Micropython”

This Stackable Pi Portable Is Ready To Rumble

The proliferation of desktop 3D printing and powerful single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi has given rise to an absolute explosion of small bespoke computing devices. Whether or not you think these cobbled together devices are close enough to Gibson’s original vision to call them cyberdecks, it’s a remarkable shift from the norm that brings us closer to the “High Tech, Low Life”  philosophy so prevalent in cyberpunk literature and films.

[Jay Doscher] has been on the front lines of this movement for some time now, producing several very popular designs. His latest creation leans hard into the more utilitarian aspects of the cyberpunk ethos, inspired more by the grit of The Expanse than the lusciously upholstered interiors of Star Trek’s Enterprise-D. The culmination of lessons learned over the last several years, the new Kuiper Deck is cheaper and easier to build than his previous designs, thanks at least in part to the fact that you no longer need to go out and get an expensive Pelican case.

Like his previous designs, the Kuiper Deck makes extensive use of 3D printed components. But this time around, [Jay] is using an array of smaller pieces that are bolted together on an acrylic front panel. This not only means the project is compatible with a wider array of machines, such as the Prusa Mini, but it’s also easier to print as larger parts have an annoying tendency to warp. The downside is that you’ll need some way to get the acrylic panel cut to shape, though you can buy one through him if you don’t have any way to get it made locally.

In place of the Pelican case his previous designs used as an enclosure, [Jay] has found a heavy-duty stackable plastic tote available from McMaster Carr for $12 USD. It’s not particularly nice looking, nor is it waterproof. But that’s also sort of the point. If you’re just trying to put together a small computer that you can toss around the shop and not have to worry about breaking, the Pelican case was always a bit overkill.

The electronics bill of materials is similarly sparse, comprising mainly of the Raspberry Pi 4, a cooling fan, and a 10 inch LCD from Pimoroni. Everything gets screwed to the rear of the panel and connected with pre-made cables, making assembly very simple. That said, there’s still plenty of room inside the case for custom hardware should you want to put something custom together such as a mobile software defined radio rig.

[Jay] created the original Raspberry Pi Field Unit in 2015, but it wasn’t until he unveiled the revised Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit in 2019 that the idea of sticking a Raspberry Pi into a Pelican case became something of hacker meme. It sounds like the Kuiper Deck is going to be his final word on the subject for now, but it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing folks putting together similar builds for years to come.

Custom Firmware For IKEA’s ORSALA Lamp

These days, home appliances are equally as likely to have soft buttons and rotary encoders as they are to have a simple old clunk/clunk power switch and an analog knob for controls. This is all well and good if the device aligns with your personal philosophy about how such controls should work; otherwise, it’s absolutely maddening. [j-zero] ran into this problem with their ORSALA lamp from IKEA, and set about rectifying the problem with some custom firmware.

The ORSALA lamp uses a rotary encoder for setting both brightness and color temperature, with a button to toggle modes. A long press is required to switch the lamp off. The custom firmware modifies this behaviour, such that the lamp can be switched on and off with a simple button press. Turning the encoder modifies brightness, and turning it to minimum switches the lamp off too. Meanwhile, the less commonly used color temperature setting can be modified by using the button while adjusting the encoder.

The hack was executed by reprogramming the ORSALA’s onboard microcontroller, the STM8S003F3P6, via its SWIM interface. The pads for the interface are easily located on the board, making the hack easy. Other than the inputs, the lamp packs separate TTP932 LED drivers for the warm white and cool white LEDs, making it easy to code a custom firmware to handle all the necessary functions.

It’s a great example of a hacker taking control of their own device and remaking it to suit their needs. Of course, if you want to go for another hacker trope, just stuff a Raspberry Pi in there instead!