Andy's Blog

A handful of ramblings...

Project S1.4 - Control panels

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As I mentioned in UPDATED: My Home Automation Roadmap, I found that controlling lamps with remote switches is an easy and efficient method of bringing dumb lamps into the smart home fold. However, it introduces a new issue, I don't want to have to pull out my phone every time I want to turn one on or off. Imagine needing to get up in the middle of the night and having to find the phone in the dark, blinding yourself when you turn the screen on, finding the app and the lamp in the app and flipping it on ... all while trying to stay somewhat asleep. Enter, control panels.

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33 Days post Facebook and all is very well!

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January 1st at 12:01AM I went through the process of deleting my Facebook account. It's pretty straightforward and easy but FB gives you a 30 day cooling off period in case you didn't really mean it and decide to go back. They are hoping that during this withdrawal period, you'll get too fidgety and will come back to get your dopamine hit. I made it though - 33 days and counting!

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UPDATED: Why I'm Done Giving Social Media my Time

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Ok, this one is short and simple. Later Facebook and Twitter! So long and thanks for all the fish!

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UPDATED: My Home Automation Roadmap

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It's a funny thing - what you find when you start a project you think you know something about. If you're doing it right then you'll likely discover that you're not as slick as you thought you were. I suppose that is why I love these projects and goals so much. They make me stretch. On the flip-side, scope creep is real thing and not every project can be a voyage of discovery. So, this is my self-imposed roadmap for the first two phases of my overall home automation goals.

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The Language of IoT

IoT and other Alphabet Soup

Internet of Things, Zigbee, Z-Wave, X10, MQTT, nodes, pairing! What is all of this? In this article, I'm going to go over the common language of home automation and try to help you make sense of all of these terms and concepts. *NOTE* this article is alive and will change as time goes by.

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Anet A8 Notes and General 3D Printing Links

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Since buying my printer early last year, I've had a lot of questions about it, like 'where to get one', 'how good is it compared to others' and 'what kind of prints can I get out of it'. What follows comes from numerous emails and private messages with folks over the last year and a half. This document will change as I find new useful info. 

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Choosing a Home Automation Hub - How Hard Could it Be?

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As I mentioned in the introduction article of this series, there isn't a standard yet for smart home devices to talk to each other. However, the advertising and hype sure makes smart homes look like an easy care free way of life. Well, it isn't. If someone is telling you it is, beware! Snake oil will soon follow!

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8 Months of Home Automation Lessons

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Since February of this year, I've been working on a lengthy project - I am slowly adding digital control and automation to the everyday things in our home. This project, unlike most of the others I've started grew out of a need rather than a want. Sure, the want is there and I'd be lying if I said that this wasn't one of the most fun projects I've committed to but, in this case, this project started with attempting to fill a need. Now that this project has matured a bit, I want to start chronicling my journey so that others with a similar need may find these experiments useful.

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Robotic Arm Arduino Dev Platform

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As I started brainstorming for version 2 of the arm, it became clear that I would need to make some changes so, I upgraded the electronics of my original robotic arm. This will allow me to create more modes of operation and create an I2C secondary interface.

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My Backyard Weather beta1

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It has been over a year and I feel like I have a decently tested version to post. It has been a learning experience to be sure and I am already working on some changes for the official version 1 of this monstrosity. In the meantime, here is My Backyard Weather, beta 1.

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A Beginner's Guide to Weather Stations

A Beginner's Guide to Weather Stations

Let me make this clear, the 'Beginner' mentioned in this post isn't you, it's me! This weather beginner has built a prototype weather station and in the 2 months it has been up, I've learned a lot. I have learned that some of my ideas weren't so crazy and I learned that some of the things I took for granted were way off base. 

So, call this a beta, a prototype version or whatever you like, just don't call it finished. Here I present to you my lessons learned on the way to stable state.

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Weather Station Project

Weather Station Project

Overview

I've always wanted to build a weather station. I have an interest in weather science but, for me a weather station is all of the stuff I like about electronics - real world use of remote sensing that can be used for practical stuff. From home automation to gardening to knowing what's in the air, local weather and environmental sensing can be used to make subtle cumulative changes that add up to better health and lower bills.

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Robotic Arm Project V2

Overview

I am working on an upgrade of my Robotic Arm Project that has managed to survive two years worth of kid interactions over the course of many different events. To say I am surprised at its longevity is an understatement.

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Lapcade V1

Lapcade V1

I'm not much of a gamer. When I was a kid, I had a space invaders handheld game, a Coleco Telstar Colortron, and a Tandy Color Computer 2. Although the COCO2 had program cartridges, most of the games I played on it were typed in from a game code book my parents gave me with the computer. That may sound like I must have been motivated to play the games (to spend all that time typing them in) but in reality, I was more interested in seeing how they worked than I was in playing them. 

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So, how did we get here, you ask?

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For years, politicians promised much but delivered little and people became more and more disillusioned and disenfranchised. In response, new politicians seized on this growing public anger and not only promised to fix it but also promised to undo and prevent "the other side" from doing anything else. Thus, we see the erosion of cooperation and consensus building.

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Robotic Arm Software Upgrade

Robotic Arm Software Upgrade

After several months on the to-do list, I finally cleaned up the Robotic Arm Project code a bit to improve my robotic arm's functionality and performance.

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Robotic Arm Project

Robotic Arm Project

A few months ago a fellow member of MTRAS posted on our Facebook page a link to a robotic arm project. The article poster / builder used a design that was previously posted as open source to Thingiverse.com. I took a look and thought that it would make a fun project that would be simple enough to follow but also challenging enough to be rewarding. So I decided to give it a shot.

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Social & News Media Hiatus Experiment

nofbI've been noticing that I spend a lot of time online. I don't have a lot of social media accounts to manage but nonetheless I've been feeling like the time I've spent wasn't worth much. Sure, I've started some discussions on topics I think are important and I've learned a lot from other's point of view, but what has the net balance to all of this online perusing been? Did I really gain anything or add to the world in any meaningful way?

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New Project - Voice Controlled Home

Mr. IncredibleJay Napier is Mr. IncredibleIt is so easy to take everything for granted. Let's take for example, turning on the TV. Next to none of us give this simple task a second thought. I have had days when I came home from work so distracted that, after a few minutes of scurrying around the house, wondered if it was actually me that turned on the TV.

When you enter a room, do you make much of a mental exercise out of turning on the light? I don't. It is like breathing, I just do it. What about turning on a fan or changing the thermostat if you're too hot or cold. All of this is pretty simple stuff and most of us don't give it a second thought - that is, until you can't do it anymore.

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Goals, Projects and Failure

Goals, Projects and Failure

It is amazing how easy it is to get sidetracked on a goal or project. Sometimes the cause is small, for example needing to run an errand during your normal workout time. Then the next day rolls around and the "need" to run more errands in that same stretch of time becomes easier to justify. Finally, that time somehow switched from workout time to errand time.

Other times there are legitimate, longer period interruptions such as illness, changes at work, or other lifestyle changes that alter the way you spend your time either for long periods or permanently. Not much can be done about these events except how we decide to RE-prioritize around them.

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