Sunday, March 16, 2014

RasPi Softener Salt Level Monitor

If you can't tell from the fact that this is my first post in 2014 and it's March already that I am not one for routine tasks, then I'll tell you.  I'm not one for routine tasks.  More often then not, I get distracted or forget.  So when it comes to my water softener, I usually discover it's low after the black plastic spatulas all turn white.  So it's about time I did something about it.
I was inspire by the cool (and cheap) HC-SR04 distance sensors. They look like cool little robot heads and can tell you how far away something is.  I HAD to use one for something.
Johnny Five
The idea was simple.  Monitor the distance from the lid of the softener do the bottom and alert when the distance to too far.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

QR Code Adventure


QR codeHere's a fun game that my kids enjoy.  It's a cool techie activity for holiday and vacation time that adds a little excitement and gets kids up and moving about.  I call it the QR Code Riddle Hunt.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Raspberry Pi Camera with Pan Tilt



I was inspired by +John Ellis's posting about his super cool garage security project to add more video and automation to my Pi projects.  He used a webcam in his project like I did in the Frankenfeeder project.  But I wanted to play with something new and hearing all the excitement around the camera module for the Raspberry Pi I thought I would take a look at it.
UPDATE: Step by Step tutorial version is online

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Learning Moment and Science

We had a great family learning moment and experiment I thought I would share.  It was so simple to setup that if you have the parts, it only takes a moment.

Over dinner, my son (3rd grade) talked about a video they watched at school about a young girl who invented a flashlight that worked by the heat of your hand.  I later found the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CCGUMkcbjg.  Big congrats to her, way to go!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Frankenstein Update I

Just a quick update on the Frankenstein project.  It's been slow getting started, but this will be worth it. We wanted to do some proof of concept testing.  So we needed to get a peltier plate in to start working with it.  Well Digikey obliged and we now have this little guy to play with.

Peltier Plate for solid state cooling

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wind Chimes (Arduino, Raspi, and Magnets!!)


Arduino Uno Talking to Raspi via Serial
I'm going to do a quick post on another project I'm working on.  This is not complete yet, but I'll share my progress to date.

Here's the concept:
I'm building a wind chime that does not actually chime, well, acoustically that is.  Instead, it will allow me to play any sound for a chime instead of a metal or wood clunking sound.  I will capture the "striking" of a "chime" (yes lots of quotes) using analog sensors on the Arduino, and then communicate a command to the Pi via a serial line. I am using the Arduino for it's analog pins and its ability to sample incredibly fast.  I'm using the Pi to play sounds simultaneously (Nope, there is no simultaneous audio shield for the Arduino).  Pi audio is a longer subject worth of its own post. But the audio you hear in the video below will not be the finished product.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Frankenstein

Next Project!

We brainstormed a lot about what to do next.  There was even a brief deep dive into possibly building a self contained tomato growing cabinet for my basement, but alas the investments in this project just outweighed a hobby budget.  After a long hot weekend over the 4th of July, we finally landed on a beer cozy that keeps your beer cold.  A Franken-Stein!

These posts will be a little different than the post project Frankenfeeder as I will try to keep up with this as we go.  So far our concept is this:

  • Use a peltier plate (a solid state component that moves heat from one side to the other when passing current) to cool the beer can in a beer cozy.
  • Use a heavy duty 12/18V battery from an old drill set to provide the heavier amperage and voltages needed to run a peltier plate
  • Drink very cold beer on hot days