PiNet — One Small Project Grows Unexpectedly

A few years ago, [Gregory Sanders] aka [Dr Gerg] had one simple wish in mind when he started what is now the PiNet project — to know whether his garage door was open or closed. Instead of searching out off-the-shelf solutions, he looked at the project as a learning opportunity. After picking up Python, he built a system from a Raspberry Pi, a 12V gel cell battery, and a power supply / charger circuit. Thus project Overhead Door (ohd) was complete (see the ohd GitHub repository) and [Dr Gerg] was done.

Or so he thought. After getting a swimming pool installed, he got the itch again, and started a new project called Pool Controls, because:

The controls for your average backyard in-ground pool are pathetic. I felt like I could do better with a Raspberry Pi, a relay board and some Python. And so I did, and frankly, it’s awesome.

Then he built his own weather station to replaced a commercial one which had died twice in as many years, followed by his own web-based UI framework. Next was the integration of an outdoor security camera system. And finally, although we don’t believe it’s really final, he ripped out the cloud-based controls from his shop air conditioner and added his own Raspberry Pi-based solution. All of these projects are available on his GitHub page.

[Dr Gerg]’s goal in posting all this work is not necessarily so people can duplicate it, although that is okay as well. Instead, he hopes that people will realize that they can build these types of projects on their own, perhaps leaning some things and picking up new skills along the way — have fun doing it. We like the way you think, [Dr Gerg]. Do you know of any small projects which grew and grew and took on a life of their own?

Turn That Pi Zero Into A Streaming Camera, Step-by-Step

What makes [mwagner1]’s Raspberry Pi Zero-based WiFi camera project noteworthy isn’t so much the fact that he’s used the hardware to make a streaming camera, but that he’s taken care to document every step in the process from soldering to software installation. Having everything in one place makes it easier for curious hobbyists to get those Pi units out of a drawer and into a project. In fact, with the release of the Pi Zero W, [mwagner1]’s guide has become even simpler since the Pi Zero W now includes WiFi.

Using a Raspberry Pi as the basis for a WiFi camera isn’t new, but it is a project that combines many different areas of knowledge that can be easy for more experienced people to take for granted. That’s what makes it a good candidate for a step-by-step guide; a hobbyist looking to use their Pi Zero in a project may have incomplete knowledge of any number of the different elements involved in embedding a Pi such as basic soldering, how to provide appropriate battery power, or how to install and configure the required software. [mwagner1] plans to use the camera as part of a home security system, so stay tuned.

If Pi Zero camera projects catch your interest but you want something more involved, be sure to check out the PolaPi project for a fun, well-designed take on a Pi Zero based Polaroid-inspired camera.

Hidden Reed Switches For DIY Home Security


[Rhys] wanted to secure his home against burglars, but didn’t want to go the normal route of using those bulky plastic magnet and reed switch deals. So he sourced some glass reed switches and made his own completely hidden security system.

By using small glass reed switches [Rhys] was able to mount them flush to the wood paneling just above the window frames. To do this he drilled and then chiseled two slots for the reed switches to go in, with the wires routed into the house. A bit of bondo or drywall filler and some paint later and they are completely invisible! To finish it off he glued small neodymium magnets to the top of the window frame which close the switches. It’s a very clean build and quite inexpensive to do — the possibilities for wiring up your entire home like this are quite tempting!

He’s got the switches installed already… why not couple it all to a complete home security setup? We shared a project last year that does just that!