Category Archives: Gadgets

Quick look VoCore

Had a package arrive the other month with my VoCore which was a project I baked on Indiegogo a while back.

The VoCore is a tiny computer running OpenWRT with a 360mhz processor and 32MB of RAM and 16MB of flash with built in Wi-Fi, two 100mbs network cards, USB and 28 GPIO ports.

Perfect for projects that have limited room or that require WiFi.

I knew the board was small but really didn’t think it would be as small as it is, here it is next to a USB stick:

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The size (and my soldering skills) made soldering connectors onto the board quite a challenge.

They do make a dock for it which breaks out the USB and Ethernet connectors but pretty  much doubles the price of the unit.

Initial configuration is done over serial with the provided USB-TTL converter but first power and serial lines have to be soldered on.

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As you can see my soldering skills aren’t the best on these small pitch connectors I will have to redo them before I use the unit in a permanent installation.

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After firing the unit up and connection via serial I reconfigured the wireless to operate in client mode and connect to my home Wi-Fi and was then able to connect via SSH:

vocore-login

My intention is to use this board with a USB Relay board to operate my garage door as well as other projects out the front of the house, this saves having to get a cable from the house into the garage which would be a nightmare.

Future projects may also include Wi-Fi connected appliances such as washing machine, dryer, kettle and the likes due to the small size, GPIO pins and cheap price.

Raspberry Pi Doorbell and Camera Part 1

After missing several people knocking at the door it was decided a doorbell was in order but I didn’t just want some annoying ringing bell to drive me nuts so after seeing Ahmad Khattab’s project on Hackaday here planning began on my own Raspberry Pi based door bell.

You can find Ahmad’s original Github repository here and Google doc with build instructions here.

Parts List:

Raspberry Pi Model B

Raspberry Pi Camera

Cheap wireless doorbell

Weather proof Case

 

I downloaded the complete SD image from here and used Win32 Disk Imager to put the image on an 8GB SD-Card after boot I went in and modified the code slightly by commenting out lines related to the LCD as I won’t be using it and have added support for Pushover a service that allows for push notifications to be sent to iOS, Android and also desktop browsers.

I also modified camera.py to take two pictures one at 800×600 which is emailed and a second at full resolution which is later copied to my NAS for storage.

launch.sh is used to start it monitoring the GPIO pin, I added this as a cron job on reboot.

Can download the modified files here.

The files that need to be customized for use are:

send_email_fast.py – Set your email address and SMTP server

send_email_attachment.py – Set your email address and SMTP server

pushover.py – Set your Pushover User and App Key’s

run.py – Un-comment and set path if you wish to copy the picture to a network share

There is also Google hangouts, twitter and Zapier support but I have not used them here.

 

With the software sorted it was onto the hardware:

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I stripped the circuit board from the receiver unit and un-soldered the speaker and battery connectors and replaced them with new leads. Someone was even nice enough to silk screen the board with all the appropriate labels.

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I then connected the battery leads to 3.3v (Pin 1) and Ground (Pin 9) and the speaker leads to GPIO7 (Pin 26) and Ground (Pin 25) for my build I omitted the 10K resister and am yet to have any issues.

gpio

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A quick test and seconds later both a pushover notification and E-Mail arrived:

notification

Open up the email and we find the picture attached:

email

I’m still awaiting my case from China after it arrives the next step will be to mount all the hardware in the case, run a network cable to the location and wire up PoE for the unit.

I also intend to add support for the camera to be triggered by the motion sensor out the front for when I’m away or asleep for security.

 

Read on in Part 2

USB “Charger Doctor”

Just a quick post today, received this in the mail from China today. A USB voltage and current tester for a whole $2

Nice simple setup plug one end into a USB port and connect the device you want to the other end and the display changes back and forth from current to voltage every few seconds.

Measures 3.5-7V and 0-3A.

USB charger doctor 2 USB charger doctor 1

Lets connect it up:

Unloaded USB port voltage. 4.91v
Unloaded USB port voltage.
4.91v
4GB USB stick connected. 0.08amp.
4GB USB stick connected.
0.08amp.
Connect to a USB 2.5" HDD. 0.45amp
Connect to a USB 2.5″ HDD. 0.45amp

Nice simple device that does what it says on the box and quite useful for diagnosing USB devices, well worth the $2 to have around for the odd time you even just want to know how much current you’re getting out of a charger.

 

Chumby One

First read about the Chumby a few years ago but at the time it was quite expensive to get one here in Australia and so mostly forgot about it until I read an article the other week mentioning that the Chumby was back!

The Chumby is a bedside clock replacement with over 1000 apps you can cycle through from clocks, weather, Facebook, picture slide show, etc.

Shipped from the USA on Tuesday and arrived Friday morning, time to unpack it 🙂

What do we have here? All the way from the USA
What do we have here?
All wrapped up
All wrapped up
Chumby One Front
Chumby One Front
Chumby One Back
Chumby One Back
Chumby up and running
Chumby up and running

Now time to load some “apps” up and have a play.

Eventually hope to write an app to integrate into my Insteon system allowing bedside table control of the whole house.

The Insteon Hub allows HTTP requests to be used to control devices and the Chumby uses Flash Lite so shouldn’t be too hard.