Wednesday, June 22, 2016

C.H.I.P. by Next Thing Co

After a year of waiting it has arrived: the $9 computer from Next Thing Co. When it launched on Kickstarter, there was no reason to skip backing this one to at least see what it was all about. Now that it has arrived I am quite happy that I did. For such a large project it would hardly be worth calling it late. My reward was due May 2016 and I received it June 2016. Very good compared to most crowd sourcing campaigns. I selected the C.H.I.P. plus battery reward, but before it shipped you could add accessories. I added the VGA adapter and an extra C.H.I.P. That way I can use it on my desk attached to my monitor since the DVI input is already in use. With the Raspberry Pi I have to connect it to the TV if I want to mess with it directly. At this price it's cheap enough to buy more than one that you can dedicate to a project and just fuggedaboutit.

$9 C.H.I.P. and accessories

Monday, June 20, 2016


As a hacker, I know all too well how much workbench space is vital. Alongside my three monitors, I have an extended desk that houses my soldering irons, compartment shelving, and countless projects, among other tools and devices. One constant that seems to get in my way is an old desk lamp. That’s where this project came to light, ha! I decided to design my own lamp using an analog RGBW LED strip. This board I designed will give you the tools to design your own WiFi controlled light source.

The boards' controller is run by the NodeMCU which is connected to an N-Channel MOSFET for each color of the RGBW LED strip. Trimpot for brightness and two user buttons (that can be setup to change modes, possibly) were also added. A 5v regulator was then added so the power can be shared with 9-12v input for the LED strip. The nodeMCU will be updated by wireless as well.

My idea is to have the nodeMCU be a web server for direct control via a web page. The site will have various configurations including color options, number of channels, animations (like fade effects) and a timer. I’d like to have it connect to MQTT server to integrate with larger servers such as openHAB.

You can follow the details of the project on

Sunday, June 19, 2016

JeeNode to MQTT Gateway

It's been a few months since I have worked on openHAB but that is mostly due to focusing on FriedCircuits, Hackaday Prize and the Maker Faire. Not a dull moment around here! I finally sat down while watching some tube (or rather crystals) to start work on the JeeNode to MQTT gateway. Up to this point if you have read my other posts I have still relied on DomotiGA to get the JeeNode data into openHAB. This is because DomotiGA has support for JeeNodes. I noticed the sensor nodes weren't checking in again which usually is because DomotiGA is not running, this time I think it just needed a restart plus one node actually needs batteries. This prompted me to finally get around to writing the gateway. Once complete I won't need DomotiGA and the desktop UI so I can use Ubuntu server for my rebuild of openHAB.

After some research I was able to get receive the data over serial, split it and shift the bits into separate variables to publish over MQTT. Using the Paho MQTT python library it is trivial to connect and publish. I decided to map out it out as JeeNode/node#/name/value. Simple. I should mention this code is assuming the JeeNode is running the room node sketch or at least using the packet format. My remote nodes and receive node code is on Github if needed. Here is a graphical view of the tree for one node.

MQTT JeeNode Map

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Last year my friend and I backed the Switchmate on Indiegogo.  At the time I didn't have much of a home automation setup - just two window nodes and the slider.  Not even any connected bulbs and I was still on DomoitaGA so I didn't have any of the fancy rules I now have in openHAB.  Over the course of the campaign, they had different deals so I ended up with three rewards.  I had actually forgotten about them, in part because since switching to openHAB and getting connected light bulbs, the need for these switches seemed diminished.  But one day I was pleasantly surprised to receive a shipping notice.  A few days later I received the package in the mail and boy was I surprised!  The quality and presentation was excellent - not what I expected at all.  Curious about them?  Read on!