Bad news if you bought several Insignia-branded smart devices from Best Buy. The company has decided to shut down the back end systems that make them work — or at least work as a smart device. On the chopping block are smart outlets, switches, a security camera, and an upright freezer. If you bought, say, the freezer, it will still keep things cold. But the security camera will apparently be of no use at all now that the backend systems have gone dark. The company is offering an unspecified partial refund to users of the affected devices.
Best Buy announced this in September, and the shutdown date was last week on November 6th. Not all Insignia products are impacted, just the ones that rely on their app.
Anytime we talk about cloud-based technology, there are always a few people who say something like, “I’ll never rely on anything in the cloud!” Perhaps they have a point — certainly in this case they were right. There are really two things to consider: hardware devices that rely on the cloud, and data that resides in the cloud. In some cases, one product — like a camera — might have both.
Continue reading “Best Buy’s IoT Goes Dark, Leaving Some “Smart” Products Dumbfounded” →
So you bought yourself a Neato XV-11 and your floors have never been cleaner. The only problem is that you want to hack around with the hardware without losing your floor-sweeping minion. [Hash] found a solution to the issue by building a computer inside of the dustbin module.
You can see at the center of the image above a touchscreen. Normally this is just blank plastic, as it’s the removable container where your floor sweepings go, but [Hash] was inspired by the modular design. Since that bin is intended to be removable, it’s a perfect way to make add-on hardware removable. All he needed to do was find a way to connect to the Neato’s own electronics. The solution was a non-standard USB cable.
Using the guts from an Insignia Infocast 3.5 (he picked several of them up on clearance at Christmas) he milled an opening for the touch screen, added a cooling fan, and wired up a toggle switch (not pictured above) which powers everything from the 14-17V coming in from that USB cable. The Infocast is a Chumby with a different branding so there’s plenty of Linux-based power and it’s WiFi enabled. Watch [Hash’s] walk through video after the break to see all that went into this clever concept.
We haven’t seen too many hacks that make use of the Neato XV-11. [Hash] is the same guy who hacked the Lidar on the unit, but there must be others turning out impressive projects. Don’t hesitate to send in a tip if you know of one.
Continue reading “Dustbin Computer Lets You Clean And Prototype With A Neato XV-11” →
[Madox] gutted an Insignia Infocast to use with this robot. Insignia is Best Buy’s house brand and they partnered with Chumby to make their Infocast line. If you can find a used or clearance model it’s a great way to get yourself and embedded Linux board for a project like this one.
The body and wheels are 3D printed, with design files available at [Madox’s] Thingiverse page. The mechanum wheels work amazingly well, using seven bearings each for smooth operation. The body itself includes a holder for two groups of batteries. One of those battery packs powers the Chumby board while the other is used to power the four servo motors responsible for locomotion. To simplify the electronics [Madox] chose to use a USB servo drive which only set him back about $20.
We’re not sure what the USB dongle on top of the robot is used for. We’d guess it’s a WiFi adapter, since the machine sets up its own access point to act as a controller. But we thought Chumby boards had WiFi built-in. At any rate, check out the video after the break where you can see an Android phone driving the little bugger. There’s a flaw in the code that prevents side-to-side movement, it gets fixed after a video break at about 2:15 and everything is peachy after that.
Continue reading “Chumby Controlled Mechanum Wheel Robot” →
[Phil] picked up an HD radio receiver when Radio Shack was clearing them out at a 60% discount. But to his disappointment, when he hooked it up the sound left a lot to be desired with limited mid-range and flat bass. After some forum mining he discovered that the optical output didn’t have this problem, and came to the conclusion that the op-amp driving the analog audio-out jack needed some tweaking. He didn’t get his hands on a schematic for the board, but took the advice from some vintage equipment gurus and swapped the stock IC for a Burr-Brown OPA2604AP chip.
This fixed the problem without any other adjustments to the hardware. But while he was in there, he also secured the external antenna connector jack to the chassis for good measure.
If you’re wondering about the particulars of the equipment, [Phil] was hacking an Auvio HD Radio tuner. But he also mentions that Best Buy sells an Insignia NS-HDTUNE which may benefit from the same modification.