Biometrics — like using your fingerprint as a password — is certainly convenient and are pretty commonplace on phones and laptops these days. While their overall security could be a problem, they certainly fit the bill to keep casual intruders out of your system. [Lewis Barclay] had some sensors gathering dust and decided to interface them to his Home Assistant setup using an ESP chip and MQTT.
You can see the device working in the video below. The code is on GitHub, and the only thing we worried about was the overall security. Of course, the security of fingerprint scanners is debatable since you hear stories about people lifting fingerprints with tape and glue, but even beyond that, if you were on the network, it would seem like you could sniff and fake fingerprint messages via MQTT. Depending on your security goals, that might not be a big deal and, of course, that assumes someone could compromise your network to start with.
Thanks to the ESP8266 and the ESP32, we’ve seen an explosion in DIY home automation projects recently. When it only takes $3 and a few lines of code to bring your gadgets onto the network, that’s hardly a surprise. But hacking bare ESP modules onto devices will only get you so far. Eventually you’ll probably want to put together a slightly more mature home automation system, and that’s where things can get a little tricky.
Which is why [Alfredo] created the Maisken Homelay. This device is a one-stop-shop for your home automation needs that leverages the power of the ESP32. With the microcontroller slotted into this compact PCB, you’ll be able to trigger four relays for your high current or AC loads, and still have 8 GPIOs and the I2C bus for expansion. All while retaining compatibility with existing open source projects like Home Assistant and ESPHome.
What really sets this project apart is the attention to detail. [Alfredo] has included a HLK-PM01 power supply on the board which takes mains voltage and brings it down to 5 VDC for the ESP32, so won’t need a separate power cable. He’s also taken the time to add isolation slots to separate the potential high-voltage connected to the relays from the rest of the board, added current and thermal fuses for protection, and peppered the board with screw terminals so you can easily connect everything up.
Sure you could get a simple relay board shipped to your door for a few bucks from the usual suspects. But it’s not going to offer the kind of quality of life and safety features that the Maisken Homelay has. There’s even a 3D printed enclosure available to help tidy things up.
Toilet paper has become a hot button issue over the last month or so, and the pandemic prompted panic buying, and consequent shortages. Now there are adequate supplies, at least where this is being written, but sometimes one’s rolls aren’t the domestic items we’re all used to. This happened to [Ebenezer], who had some of the large size rolls suitable for toilet roll dispensers rather than a domestic bathroom. To solve this problem he made a makeshift toilet roll winder.
The adventures of small dogs aside, we all know that toilet rolls unroll themselves very easily indeed but are a significant pain to get back on the roll once they have done so. Rolling toilet paper must therefore be an exact science of velocity and tension, which he approached with a 3D printed shaft that mounts a toilet roll tube in a Ryobi drill. Getting the tension right was a bit tricky, but we’re extremely impressed with the result. Like him we’d have expected some side-to-side movement, but there was very little and a near perfect toilet roll was the result.
This is a simple hack, but one extremely well executed, and that it does something we might normally consider near-impossible is a bonus. Of course, should you wish to ration your toilet paper, you can always print it.
Wink Labs just announced that their home automation hub, the Wink Hub, is “transitioning to a $4.99 monthly subscription, starting on May 13, 2020.” Should you fail to pay the fiver every month, you will lose access to their app, voice control, and automations, which is everything it does as far as we can tell.
This is an especially bitter pill to swallow for Hub users, because the device was just that — a hub. It speaks Bluetooth, Z-Wave, ZigBee, WiFi, Kidde, and a couple other specific device protocols, interfaces with Amazon’s Alexa, has a handy Android master panel app, and had a nice “robot” system that made the automation side of “home automation” simple for normal people. In short, with its low one-time purchase price, compatibility with many devices, nice phone app, and multiple radios, it was a great centerpiece for a home-automation setup.
“Nice home automation system you’ve got there. Would be a shame if anything happened to it.”
Sometimes connectivity problems go away by power cycling a router. It’s a simple but inconvenient solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist, but that didn’t stop [Mike Diamond] from automating it for a few bucks in parts. The three-dollar router rebooter may be a simple device with only one job, but it’s well documented and worth a look.
The device is an ESP8266 board configured to try to reach Google periodically via the local wireless network. If Google cannot be reached, the board assumes a reboot is needed and disconnects the 12 V power supply from the router by using a relay. Then, after a delay, power is re-connected and all of one’s problems are over until the next time it happens. [Mike] used a relay module that has built-in screw terminals and a socket for the ESP8266-01, so it looks like the whole device can be put together without soldering a thing.
While the code for making this happen may sound trivial, [Mike] nevertheless delves into documenting it. It makes a great example of how to implement a simple event-driven finite state machine in a way that’s clear and concise. By structuring the code so that there is a finite number of specific states the device can be in (router power on, router power off, and testing connection) and by defining exactly how and when the device switches between those states, operation and troubleshooting becomes a much more manageable job. Another great example is this IoT Garage Door Opener project. If you’re programming devices that interface to physical things, these techniques are definitely good practice.
Sure, but [Michael] realized that simply cutting out a ring wasn’t a very efficient approach. Unless you happen to need progressively smaller plant hangers, or maybe a new set of drink coasters, the center disc ends up being wasted material. That might not have been a big deal a few months ago, but when a trip to the Home Depot for more plywood could literally be hazardous to your health, that kind of inefficiency just won’t do.
He reasoned it would be better to break the ring down into sections, which could easily be nested so they fit neatly on a square plywood panel. Of course, now those sections need to be connected to each other in a way that’s strong enough for the ring to hold up the weight of the plant.
So that means extra pieces need to be cut out to serve as braces, and you’ll need to screw it all together, so better add some nuts and bolts to the BOM. You’ll probably want some eye bolts as well, but in a pinch you could just weld washers to the heads of screws like [Michael] did once he ran out of the good stuff.
Some would argue that the time [Michael] spent coming up with this revised design is more valuable than the wood he avoided wasting, which might be true if he was on the job and getting paid hourly. But when it’s a personal project, and quarantine has made sourcing materials difficult, we think it’s a fantastic example of working with what you’ve got on hand.
Most gyms are closed right now due to social distancing rules, which is what we’re using as our latest excuse to justify our sloth-like lifestyle. But apparently some people miss working out enough that they’re putting together impromptu home gyms. [Michael Pick] has even outfitted his DIY pull-up station with an Arduino to keep track of his exercise while on lockdown. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.
In the video after the break, [Michael] explains the design and construction of the bar itself which technically could be thought of as its own project. Obviously the Arduino counter isn’t strictly necessary, so if you just wanted to know how to put some scraps of wood and suitably beefy rod together in such a way that it won’t rip off the wall when you put your weight on it, this video is for you.
Towards the end of the video, he gets into an explanation of the electronic side of the project. Inside the 3D printed enclosure is an Arduino Pro Mini, a HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, and a 1602 serial LCD. Once the gadget has been mounted in the proper position and activated, it will count how many pull-ups [Michael] has done on the screen.
While we historically haven’t seen a whole lot in the way of homebrew exercise equipment, the current COVID-19 situation does seem to be getting the adrenaline flowing for some of you. We recently covered some DIY dumbbells made from hardware store finds that would be an excellent first project for any hackers who’ve recently been ejected from the Matrix and are trying to use their muscles for the first time.