Tomorrow and Monday (Sunday December 16th 2-6 & Monday December 17th 4-8) I’ll be showing my Change You Can Believe In prototype coin collector at the ITP Winter Show. It shows you the worth of your change in the value of items & causes you care about. Come see me!
Hey look! It’s my first major project at ITP. It’s a party in the elevator.
Making your own versus buying something already made… the conundrum.
Our apartment here in New York has one of those newfangled RFID entry systems. We don’t have a door man, so you wave your RFID tag in front of a reader at the door and it automagically unlocks. It’s all fine and good unless you have someone visit. You can make copies of your apartment key, but it’s pretty difficult to clone RFID tags.
The problem: unless your visitor wants to spend their entire time with you or you want to give your RFID tag up… someone will get locked out.
That got me thinking, how else could we let people in to the building?
The Possible Solutions
- clone the RFID tag
- intercept the in-apartment unlock button to remotely unlock
- adopt a dog, train it to open the apartment door, walk downstairs and open the building door
Cloning the RFID tag seems to require an effort and hardware I don’t have beyond what I want to get involved with and a dog doesn’t seem like the right thing to adopt right before grad school, besides, I have Stanley!
Doing a Google search It looks like other people have built similar systems. Essentially, you send a text message, magic happens in the series of tubes and the door unlocks. I built a working prototype today.
My system would use an Xbee at the button [it’s far from the internet box] to activate a transistor which would activate a relay, effectively ‘pressing’ the button. This part works just fine. (a few technicalities, The complexity isn’t as much the hardware as the software that ties it all together.
You need a service to receive text messages, an intermediary web server to translate what the messages mean and send the command to the arduino [it looks like you might be able to do this with within Twilio], the Arduino plugged into ethernet to get the command w/ an xBee & the xBee at the button. All in all, while I think I could eventually make this work, it will take a really long time.
Enter, Lockitron. It’s a hardware + service that came up during some deep Google searching.
It’s a hardware & software solution that does basically what I want to do. They even have a hardware device that has relays, just like what I was building. Sweet. And after chatting with the folks who created Lockitron it looks like I might be able to connect some contraptions to the other relays. Bubble Machine?
In the end, it seems like this will be the way to go for now. Perhaps after I learn more about the code end of software/hardware services at school, I can interface this with a future creation. [looks like Lockitron uses Twillo after all!]
I have cross post on Instagram & Facebook, so you’ve likely already seen this… but the Bubble Alarm Clock has been a ‘hit’ with Stanley and the instructables write up was featured on the front page! I seem to be in a bubble mania phase, we went to Toys ‘R’ Us today to look for other bubble toys to exploit.
Kids toys today are a sad lot. I was hoping to find a bargain on some random simple electronic toys to take apart but couldn’t find anything. There was a decent selection of bubble toys and I ended up with the Gazillion Bubble Hurricane. (Yes, that’s really it’s name - they also have the Bubble Typhoon) It does indeed produce a gazillion bubbles, however the drive mechanism for the wands seems to be faulty.
I’m going to have to return it and try again tomorrow. After reading online, it looks like they are not making the machines like they used to, the old version let you screw in the bubble solution as an auto feeder!
This Gazillion Bubble company & Super Miracle Bubbles seem to have a monopoly on the bubble fun market. Who knew.
Anyway, I’m glad to have a finished arduino project in daily use. I learned how to make a clock, use a transistor, use a relay, use an LCD and how to use github for code. All in all not a bad project.
What’s next? Bubbles + Bike
This eye-fi based ‘internet of things’ camera seems pretty neat. I have a few eye-fi cards sitting around. I wonder what I could stalk… the mailman when he opens the mailbox?
Last night I went to Disneyland and went on Star Tours the Adventures Continue, which impresses me more and more every visit. The queue is great and has lots of stuff to look out (it even uses projectors in a respectable way, I’m thinking about you Winnie the Pooh) but the ride experience is even better. (I’m also curious how the integration works)
I love that the Rebel spy incorporated into the film is an actual guest onboard the Star Speeder. This just seems like the right way to make things interactive. Not to be derivative, but what if Mara inside Indiana Jones & the Temple of the Forbidden Eye actually could *see* if you looked into her eyes. I remember ducking down and hiding as a kid because I literally believed I would be doomed if I looked into her eyes.
But think about it, what if she singled out the few or many people that looked into her eyes with a laser burst or another effect. There have been so many new special effect technologies in the last few years, Indiana Jones could be even more amazing!
Source: Boing Boing
The installation of the xbee + arduino powered garage door sensor was a success! This was my first time working with xbee, and I’m pretty happy about the way things came out.
The problem: because of the design of the house, it’s difficult to visually check if both garage doors are securely closed.
Although it might be a bit of overkill, this was an opportunity to figure out how to use xbee & install a sensor system.
My solution: Private twitter account that relays the status of both doors (open or closed).
In the garage:
- Two magnetic proximity sensors mounted at floor level on each of the garage doors.
- An xbee radio mounted on a spark fun regulated breakout board with one digital pin connected to each of the sensors
In the house:
- Arduino Uno with an ethernet shield & xbee radio mounted on a spark fun breakout board.
- The Arduino reports the status of the garage doors to a pachube feed about every minute (the code for the arduino includes a watchdog script to reset the board if it gets stuck)
- Triggers on pachube automatically tweet when the door is opened & when it is closed.
In the future: Visual indicator of door status / push notifications instead of twitter / better handling of normal operation (short open/close for access/egress)
All in all, for my first try I think it went pretty well. The system is operating reliably. I wish that pachube made it easier to set more specific triggers. I’m not yet really familiar enough with writing/hosting the triggers or adjusting the arduino behavior to make the system wait longer before notifying that the door is open an unusually long amount of time.
lighting up the KALLT [LEDs]
Over the weekend, I finally got a chance to open the magical red sparkfun boxes that appeared at my door. Inside the red box portal was a ‘real man’s’ soldering iron, some LEDs and assorted other tools I had neglected to purchase over the last few years. You can only macgyver things for so long.
While plugging together electronic things in a studio apartment alone on a saturday is always fun, I had the opportunity to make a new friend, drink beer and play with low voltage all at the same time. Sadly, there was one casualty:
And by casualty, I mean melting, smoking fiery mess. Oops. So hey, don’t plug a satellite module into a thingM blinkM maxM without a limiting resistor.
The bonus of not plugging this all in on my own was getting an impromptu lesson about understanding circuits, loads and transistors. So thanks to Dylan for that.
All in all, just a bit of progress was made toward installing the LEDs in the IKEA lamp. But now I understand the basics of coding the device to make the light do funky things. For what reason? I’m not sure yet. Maybe this weekend I’ll glue the boards into the light and see how it looks!
Oh! A bonus thing came in the mail:
I’m now a card carrying machine project member. It’s not quite as fun as the NRA, but I figure this might actually motivate me to go see what that is all about.