Welcome to a series I call: "The Design Challenge Project Summaries: My Favorites." From time to time I like to hop in my DeLorean, fire up the Mr. Fusion, and take a trip back in the past to revisit some of my favorite project's from design challenges past. The article format will be slightly different than my traditional project summary post, and will not follow a strict chronological recap of the projects I feature here. Instead, I will highlight several of the best post from that project, and will offer my commentary on why I felt that the article’s featured project was so good. Some of these projects may be challenge winners, while some might not have even completely finished. I simply want to highlight some of the past work by our amazing community members, and hope that this series will help spark innovation in someone’s future project.
The concept of upcycling has always fascinated me, and that is why the Upcycle It Design Challenge was a very fun one for myself. I spent my developmental years growing up on a farm so far out in the country that I might see one car every three or four hours drive down our red dirt road. Naturally with my family in the farming and construction industries, there was always a ton of old junk, equipment, machines, and building supplies laying around for me to tinker and toy with, and that is why I think I have always liked the idea of re-purposing something that is seemingly useless into something useful.
The subject of this week's summary is Project: Upcycled Clock by Carmelito Andrade (carmelito), and is centered around an old analog clock that he brought into the future by adding some awesome new features. The finished clock features visual indication for several things including the weather, traffic reports, tweets, email, and home environmental metrics. It also features an LCD panel, a voice that reads several dynamic parameters including tweets, weather conditions, and news headlines. To top it all off, the clock uploads much of the data it collects to a cloud based data aggregation service. So now that we know the outcome, let's take a look at how things got to this point.
Things got started on March 28th of 2017 with Carmelito laying out his plans for what appeared to be a pretty boring, and quite old, analog wall clock. This clock had traveled with him when he moved from Toronto to Los Angeles, and the time had come for it to finally meet its ultimate fate of becoming a cyborg that none of the other analog clocks would ever recognize again. Carmelito was quite ambitious with his plans for the clock, listing more than ten features he hoped to implement in the coming weeks.
Things got off to a quick start with substantial progress being made in just the second project update. Knowing my love for all things 3D Printed, Carmelito had obviously written this update to catch my eye in an effort to get featured early on in my weekly summaries, and he was successful. Using Autodesk’s Fusion 360, he designed some panels to replace a couple of the mirrors that adorned the outside edge of the mirror. The first panel was designed to hold a 16x2 character LCD, while the second was outfitted with two buttons and a potentiometer. I usually like to see the challengers include their design files in their post so that the readers at home can download, analyze, and make those parts for themselves, but since this clock was most likely fairly unique, I understood why they were not attached to the post.
Update three came just a week later with more work around the LCD that was installed in the custom 3D printed panel discussed in the previous update. “As part of today's blog post I have managed to setup connect the Intel Edison on the Arduino base board to show the IP address assigned to the Intel Edison by my WiFi router and also show the temperature from the Grove temperature on the RGB LCD screen which came as part of the Grove Arduino sensor kit,” he said. For anyone trying to get their LCD working on the Edison, this post is invaluable. I actually referenced it a few days ago when a friend asked me about using a character LCD with the Edison, and have done so twice before as well.
A couple of weeks later Carmelito was able to get ESpeak up and running on the Edison which enabled him to begin the process of having the clock read tweets in update number six. By searching for tweets that feature a specified hashtag, the edison is able to compile a list of the latest 5 tweets matching the criteria and then read them back to the user. This post was put together quite well and describes the entire process thoroughly, and it should serve as a guide into twitter’s api integration into your projects.
As if reading tweets was not enough, Carmelito wanted to have his smart clock provide a quick and easy method of determining his commute time to work based on the Google Maps API and its traffic condition metrics. In addition to using a LED strip to give an indication to traffic issues, Espeak is once again utilized to read the estimated commute time back to the end user. “If you live in California, specifically in Los Angeles and the surrounding counties you soon realize that the area has a huge traffic problem, which meant I had to find a more visual way of identifying, what is the ideal time to leave for work, which is normally a 25 to 30 mins commute on a good day. I know you’re going to say we have “google now” and many other service, but nothing beats an visual LED indicator. The idea here is that as part of the final setup we are going to replace one of the mirror panels with a 3D printed part which diffuses the LEDs,” he wrote. Much like the previous post, this one is full of useful information, and should be helpful for anyone who likes poking around with the Google Maps API in their projects.
The next couple of weeks focused on more 3D Printed Panels and diffusers to go with them with work on the code side of things picking back up on May 26th. Carmelito wanted to get the data that his clock was collecting off of the clock and into the cloud, and as luck would have it, he found just the platform to do just that while attending Makerfaire Bay Area the previous week. “When I attended Makerfaire Bay Area last week , I heard a talk by the folks at myDevices, who build an IoT platform called– Cayenne, which has an online IoT dashboard that takes most of the complication out of creating hardware-oriented programming, originally it worked with just the Raspberry Pi, and is now available for the Arduino as well. In addition, you also have a feature were you can use MQTT to post sensor data to Cayenne IoT dashboard, this means we can use the Intel Edison to post sensor data as shown in the picture [above],” he said.
Over the next few weeks, Carmelito spent time working on more 3D Printing, LED integration, and even spent some time getting more data displayed on the LCD. The project fully wrapped up with its fifteenth update, a bonus post about door state detection which was posted after the challenge had closed.
This project went on to win the Upcycle It Design Challenge and for his efforts Carmelito took home the grand prize pack containing a Keithley Digital Multimeter Dremel 4000 MultiTool Kit and a Weller Digital Soldering Station
That is going to conclude this summary. If you want to reread this project from its beginning, head over Carmelito’s summary page that features a listing of each blog post. I want to know what some of your favorite projects here at Element14 were. Leave a comment below with a link to some of your favorite Design Challenge Projects, or any project from the past that was posted here at Element14, and you might see one of them in an upcoming summary post! Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and I will see you next week with a new Design Challenge Project Summary, until then, remember to hack the world and make awesome!