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Cooking Hacks Blog

Electronics for DIY and the Internet of Things (IoT) Community. Arduino and RaspberryPi Hacks and Tricks. Open Source Sensor Networks for developers and students

  • Weekly Recap - Watering Hacks

    So summer is here and we all have a lot of things to do but not the time. Here are some hacks that will surely help you to take some time off your daily tasks, this projects will automatically take care of your plants for you.

    e-Waste Watering Can

    This hack started as a project to teach a group of students about electronic waste and reusing technology. First thing they did was taking the CD drive out of a desktop computer. The idea was to control the amount of water by opening or closing the CD drive. They also recycled a plastic bottle to store the water and used a tube to irrigate the plant and a 12-16V power supply.

    WaterCan

    After that, they soldered the leads of the drive to a relay, and connected it to an Arduino Uno to be able to control it. They included a sensor to measure soil moisture with the Arduino board and, depending on this value, they used the CD drive to clamp the water of the bottle.

    As you can see the components for this project are cheap and mostly reused and recycled, so it's easy to make one yourself!

    Check our solutions for taking care of your plants here.

    Read about this project on Instructables. Via Adafruit.

    Automated Plant Watering System

    Shane built another system to water your plants. He used a car door actuator with a small DC motor to activate a water bottle pump. This up and down movement of the electronic actuator, which transforms a rotary motion into a linear motion, rises the pressure in the jug.

    When the pressure is high enough, a servo, mounted on the same wooden structure, activates a lever that sprays the water through a hose. Watch it in the video below.

    The servo activating the lever is connected to a dsPIC microcontroller, which also controls the door lock actuator with a DC motor driver. Just a few components and reused equipment!

    Take a look at Open Garden Indoor, our alternative to remotely control your indoor plants.

    Find all about this hack here. Via Hackaday.

    Watering Garden with Arduino

    OK, now we're getting serious. This project is a complete watering system for your garden. It is build around an Arduino Uno and a soil moisture detector. It is planned to use up to 8 electrovalves, but as he explains you can adapt it to your needs and use as many as you like.

    The watering system is composed of flexible water pipe, connectors, splitters, electrovalves and a sprinkler. He is using an 8 relay shield (9V or 12V) to control the electrovalves and an AC adapter to power everything but the Arduino Board, which is connected to a USB power adapter.

    WateringGarden

    The Arduino monitors the soil moisture with the sensor, and depending on this value it activates the relays and waters the garden. It is a simple way to automatically take care of your plants.

    Check our kit for garden watering: Open Garden Outdoor.

    Posted on Instructables.

  • Cooking Hacks at the Sónar 2015

    Cooking Hacks was part of the recent Sónar Festival 2015 in Barcelona. Sónar is a three-day long electronic music festival that was founded in 1994, and has since evolved into a multi-themed event that includes all kind of artistic performances and multimedia exhibitions, enhancing creativity and technology.

    It is divided into Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night and, unlike most summer festivals, it does not take place in a field. Sónar by Day is located in the city centre (Fira Montjuïc), and apart from concerts and dj's it hosts showcases and expositions, and the Sónar+D, an international conference focused on creativity and technology, and the digital transformation of the cultural industries involved. It gathers not only artists but entrepreneurs, researchers and companies seeking to integrate music, technology and business.

    Watch below the intro video for the Sónar+D.

    Sónar by Night is located at Fira Gran Via de L'Hospitalet, far away from the city centre, with most part of the live shows and dj sets until late at night.

    Libelium attended Sónar with "Sensors for the Next Generation of Artists", a demo of some of our products and the projects explained below, and participated in the "European Commission: Open Digital Science and Art Workshop", which featured representatives from principal institutions involved in research, art, technology and culture.

    Zero Calories Can Dispenser

    So this is what we brought to the table. This project is a mind controlled fridge, so you can get a cool drink without physical interaction. A mindwave sensor measures brainwave signals and monitors the attention level of the user. This sensor uses the Bluetooth module PRO from CH to send the data to an Arduino Uno board.

    Zero Calories Can Dispenser 1

    Zero Calories Can Dispenser 2

    Zero Calories Can Dispenser

    The Can Dispenser is controlled with the Arduino Uno, which collects the data from the Mindwave and displays your concentration levels in an LCD screen and an analogic gauge meter. So all this means that when you concentrate hard enough you get your drink: Inside the covering there is a thermoelectric cooling that uses the Peltier effect together with a fan to create a flow of fresh air.

    Partymeter

    This application could turn out to be really useful in a festival like this one. Build once again around an Arduino Uno, it is actually a portable medical station for measuring Galvanic Skin Response (sweating) and Pulse and Oxygen in Blood (SPO2):

    • Galvanic Skin Response Sensor (GSR - Sweating): Skin conductance, also known as Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) is a method of measuring the electrical conductance of the skin, which varies with its moisture level. Skin conductance is used as an indicator of psychological or physiological arousal.
    • Pulse and Oxygen in Blood Sensor (SPO2): Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method of indicating the arterial saturation of functional hemoglobin. Oxygen saturation is defined as the measurement of the amount of Oxygen dissolved in blood, based on the detection of Hemoglobin and Deoxyhemoglobin.

    The Arduino Board reads the data from the sensors and sends it to the printer with our RS-232 Serial/Modbus Module. This module allows to connect console ports and special purpose equipment. So, in the end you will get a ticket from the printer with the measured levels and depending on them it automatically assigns you a party level: relaxed, normal, semi-altered, altered or super-altered.

    Partymeter 1

    Partymeter 2

    Partymeter

    The Partymeter makes use of the e-Health Sensor Shield, a board by Cooking Hacks that allows Arduino and Raspberry Pi users to perform biometric and medical applications where body monitoring is needed by using 9 different sensors.

    Radioactive Percussion

    Radioactive Percussion

    This project was developed by Cooking Hacks and it converts ambient radioactivity in a musical rhythm.

    It detects radiation with a Geiger-Müller tube, a type of particle detector that measures ionizing radiation. It is able to detect the emission of nuclear radiation, including alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays.

    The Geiger Counter is integrated in the Radiation Sensor Board. This board is compatible with any tube that works in the range of 400V - 1000V and, in this case, is mounted on an Arduino Uno, but it is also compatible with Raspberry Pi and Intel Galileo.

    It has 5 LEDs and an LCD to indicate radiation levels and a piezo speaker that allows to hear the typical "chirp" in radioactivity counters.

    To quickly detect increases in radiation levels we use a Vaseline glass bead. This is a safe way to test your Geiger Counter: Vaseline glass contains a small amount of Uranium (less than 0.2%) so it is slightly radioactive but completely safe to handle.

    The Arduino and the Radiation Sensor Board are placed inside a covering, so put some Vaseline glass bead next to it and the music starts to play.

    We are very much looking forward to the next edition of this festival. We'll see you there!

  • Infrared Hacks - Weekly Recap

    Infrared Remote Control Tester

    Surely you had this problem. You tried to change the channel on your TV and nothing happened, but you are not sure if it's the batteries or the remote. Rui built a circuit for testing infrared remote controls.

    The circuit is pretty simple but it can turn out to be really useful. To record the IR commands he included a Vishay V34836 IR receiver. He made the PCB with a CNC machine and used a 12F683 microcontroller from Microchip.

    The circuit is powered by a couple of AAA batteries and is glued to the battery holder. As you can see in the video above, a red LED lights up when the circuit is switched on and not receiving any IR signal. If it's receiving continuous data the green LED indicates that the remote is fine, and the yellow LED will indicate that the data stream is broken, so the remote is not working properly.

    Take a look at our own IR Remote Module.

    Check this helpful project here. Via Hackaday.

    Infrared Tachometer using Arduino

    This project is again simple but very resourceful. [Pinodisco] made a tachometer out of some basic components: a couple of resistors, a motor and wheel assembly and an infrared LED and Phototransistor.

    He placed the IR LED and Phototransistor (receiver) facing each other and close, so the receiver can read the signal through the window in the wheel.

    tachometer

    He is using an Arduino Due to read the signal from the Phototransistor: the IR receiver is connected to the analog pin A0 in the board, and the IR LED is connected to 5V through a limiting resistor.

    Then the code counts the time between two signals from the receiver, it converts the value to rps/rpm and prints it in the Arduino IDE serial monitor.

    Read more on Instructables.

    Infrared Pulse Sensor

    Obviously, this isn't a medical device, but it's pretty amazing. Just like in the projects above it is built around an infrared emitter and detector which are placed close to each other.

    This time they are used to detect your pulse. As they explain, when the heart pumps, blood pressure rises and the amount of IR light that gets reflected back to the receiver increases when you press your fingertip against the sensor. So with an amplifier circuitry they can output a signal to the Arduino board.

    The signal is taken to the analog pin A0 and then the data can be viewed through the Arduino serial monitor. Finally they even prepared a sketch so you can visualize the data on your computer with Processing.

    Check our own medical platform: e-Health Sensor Platform.

    Find out more about this step by step tutorial on MAKE

  • Do you have any problem adding products to your cart or logging into Cooking Hacks?

    Some users have reported occasional problems adding products to their carts or loging into our website. As you know, as we are reorienting Cooking Hacks towards education, we have just launched a new version of the website.

    During these very first days, we are still fixing some minor details and little bugs, and we have detected some problems due to the existing Cooking Hacks cookies in your browser.

    If you can not add products to your cart, or log into the website,
    try to refresh your browser (Ctrl+F5 or Ctrl+R, Command+R for Mac Users). If the problem persists try to remove Cooking Hacks Cookies from your browser (you have to make this step just once and the problem is solved!)

    Please, find below some screenshots and directions of how to remove Cooking Hacks Cookies from Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari.

    How to remove Cooking Hacks Cookies from Firefox

    First of all, click in the "Preferences" button of the menu displayed in the top right corner of Firefox.

    Click Preferences

    After that, select the "Privacy" tab, and click in "remove individual cookies".

    Select Privacy Tab

    Last, search for www.cooking-hacks.com cookies, select all of them, and click in "Remove cookies" button.

    Remove cookies

    And that's all. You shouldn't have any more problems.

    How to remove Cooking Hacks Cookies from Chrome

    First click on the menu button on the top right corner to display the menu and go to "Settings".

    Menu -> Settings

    Then scroll down and click "Show advanced settings" and then on "Privacy" go to "Content settings..."

    Privacy -> Content Settings

    After that click on "All cookies and site data".

    All cookies and site data

    Finally type "www.cooking-hacks.com cookies" next to "Locally stored" data and click "Remove all shown".

    Remove all shown

    How to remove Cooking Hacks Cookies from Internet Explorer

    First click on the settings button and then select "Internet options".

    Select Internet Options

    Then under "Browsing history" click "Settings".

    Browsing History -> Settings

    On the "Temporary Internet Files" tab click "View files".

    View Files

    Finally type and search for "www.cooking-hacks.com" and delete all the files.

    Search for www.cooking-hacks.com

    How to remove Cooking Hacks Cookies from Safari

    First go to the Safari Menu on the top right corner and click on “Preferences”.

    Go to Safari Menu -> Preferences

    In the Preference window go to “Privacy” and click on “Details...”

    Go to Privacy -> Details

    Finally search for “www.cooking-hacks.com” and click “Remove” to delete the files.

    Search for www.cooking-hacks.com and remove

    If you continue having problems, or you can't remove your cookies, please email us at info@cooking-hacks.com. We will be happy to help you!

  • Cooking Hacks Reorients towards Education

    Cooking Hacks, Libelium's DIY open source hardware division, is reorienting towards technical education. This is made as a response to the increasing number of connected things: it is predicted that by 2020 around 25 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, resulting in a need for companies to look for more than 4 million developers.

    More than 40 education Kits available

    This is a huge step for us, and it is something more than a website redesign to give it a modern look. Cooking Hacks seeks to place greater emphasis on teaching, so we have prepared 20 new kits to be added to our existing kits portfolio: that makes more than 40 education kits.

    These new kits range from WiFi or Bluetooth to GPS and GPRS, and all of them include extra components like LEDs, resistors, servo motors or an LCD display that will allow you to make lots of projects.

    We have also redesigned our Starter Kit. We have included in it some very interesting new products, like an LCD 16x2 Display, a 9G Micro Servo or a Hobby Motor that will surely expand the capabilities and applications of your projects.

    Total customization

    Besides, you can purchase all the new kits with Arduino, Raspberry Pi or Intel Galileo Platforms. Just select the platform you are interested in, and fully customize your kit. You can purchase the Starter Kit even including our Waspmote Starter Kit.

    New Starter Kit

    Waspmote Starter Kit

    In the pictures above, the new 3G+GPS Mobile Kit and our Waspmote Starter Kit

    New Organization

    Our kits can now be sorted by platform, category or user level (beginner, intermediate and expert). This way you can select the right tutorial for the platform you are using and according to your experience.

    Since we attempt to get everybody interested in electronics and DIY, we have classified our kits by User Level so beginners and advanced users can find the most suitable kit.

    We have also reorganized our Kits around "Skills" and "Applications". For example, you can improve your programming skills with our Programming oriented Kits, or develop Wireless projects with our Wireless Kits. Don't forget to check our Long range Sensors Kits, where you will find some of our best-sellers.

    New Tutorials and documentation

    We have now over 100 step-by-step tutorials to easily learn to use our kits. You can work on any platform (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Waspmote and Intel Galileo), and start making applications with sensors and wireless networks, regardless of your skills on electronics and programming.

    To make really easy to find the tutorial you need, we have developed a specific Tutorial Search Tool. You can select the platform you are interested in, the category you want to look into, and even your knowledge level, and the tool will give you back the tutorials that best match your preferences.

    This new improved search tool will help you to find what you're looking for in just a few seconds. We have detected in the past that some of our customers had difficulties to find products in our shop, so our IT department put a lot of effort developing this new tool.

    Tutorial Search Tool

    Not only new design, also 100% secure

    Thus, Cooking Hacks has been redesigned! As you can see it is a much more simple design, we've said goodbye to the red background, and now you can enjoy lots of white and clear spaces so you can read comfortably and navigate smoothly.

    And in addition to that, the entire site works now with SSL certificates signed by a third party Official Security Authority. All the transactions are encrypted, signed and 100% secure.

    We are using secure Paypal and Credit Card (VISA - MasterCard) payment method. You can pay also via wire transfer - we will prepare your order after the payment reception. Remember we never store your card information on our site.

    Payment Methods

    We really appreciate your feedback

    We have made a big effort to get all this things together for you, but we think it will worth it. We are interested in your comments and questions and look forward to hearing from you. We encourage you, all our fellow users, to give us some feedback through our contact page, or directly in our mail info (@) cooking-hacks (.) com

    iot_spartans_logo

    IoT Spartans

    Libelium, along with Cooking Hacks, is focusing on meeting the demand for developers for the Internet of Things, and is offering training courses for teachers on Waspmote, our own open source wireless platform for the IoT.

    This new approach will include the IoT Spartans initiative, a challenge to rank the best IoT and Waspmote developers that will be launched in the next few months. More coming soon, stay tuned.

  • Cooking Hacks will be at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015

    Once again, we will be at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015, May 15, 16 & 17. (Yes, this time starts on Friday, one more day to enjoy!). Come and join us! To take a look at our products, don't forget to search for us on the Maker Faire APP. Jorge and Andrea will be showcasing our e-Health Sensor Platform, Open Aquarium and Open Garden, among other products that we will bring to the table.

    You can read more about our participation last year in this links.

    Open Garden

    We are presenting Open Garden. It is an open source platform to remotely control your indoor and outdoor plants. We provide three different kits, each one for a specific kind of growing plant scenario: indoor (houses and greenhouses), outdoor (gardens and fields) and hydroponics (plants in water installations).

    To control the state of the plants, this platform allows to measure several parameters:

    • Soil Moisture (Indoor and Outdoor Kits)
    • Temperature, Light and Humidity (All kits)
    • pH, Conductivity and Temperature (Hydroponics Kit)

    On the other hand, it includes several actuators to modify the condition of the plants:

    • Water Pump and Droppers for Irrigation (Indoor kit)
    • Electro valve and Sprinkler for Sprinkling (Outdoor kit)
    • Oxygen Pump and Growing Light (Hydroponics kit)

    You can also upload plant status data to a web server by using any of the available wireless interfaces (WiFi, GPRS, 3G) to see the information on a mobile device.

    Cooking Hacks Open Garden

    Open Aquarium

    We are also showcasing our Open Aquarium platform. It's designed to automate the maintenance tasks in aquariums, fish tanks and ponds so you can take a better care of your fish. It is based on Arduino and consists of two different but complementary kits: Basic and Aquaponics.

    The platform includes 5 different sensors to measure key parameters such as temperature, pH and Conductivity and to control the state of the aquarium: water level and leakage. Besides, it can automate several tasks, such as heating and cooling the water or feeding the fish, controlling the intensity of light to simulate day and night cycles and activating pumps for water change or medicines administration with 4 actuators.

    Open Aquarium Project -  Aquarium Monitoring for Arduino

    We have developed an Open Source API to control the platform with Arduino and a web application to store all the information from the sensors in a data base and visualize it from iPhone / Android devices.

    Read more about Open Aquarium here.

    e-Health Sensor Platform

    e-Health Sensor Platform

    Another of our products that we are sure you will be thrilled to check is the e-Health Sensor Platform. It is a shield designed for Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Intel Galileo that allows you to perform biometric and medical applications where body monitoring is needed with 10 different sensors: pulse, oxygen in blood (SPO2), airflow (breathing), body temperature, electrocardiogram (ECG), glucometer, galvanic skin response (GSR – sweating), blood pressure (sphygmomanometer), patient position (accelerometer) and muscle/electromyography sensor (EMG).

    Six different wireless connectivity options are available to send all the biometric information gathered by the sensors so you can store it or visualize it in real time (Wi-Fi, 3G, GPRS, Bluetooth, 802.15.4 and ZigBee). Don't miss the chance to try our e-Health Platform.

    Read about some real applications of the e-Health Sensor Platform:

  • May Maker Events Schedule

    MakerFaireParis2

    As you surely know, we are very much looking forward to the Maker Faire Bay Area 2015. We wrote about it a few days ago, we will be attending and presenting some of our main products.

    Everybody would like to go to a huge event like this one, but it's a long trip and, in case you can't make it, here's a little recap with every Maker Faire event in the month of May.

    Mini Maker Faires in May

    Mini Maker Faires are obviously smaller in scale than the rest but they keep the spirit and vision of the larger events: it's open to anybody, covers from technical to art and performance issues and encourages people to participate. It is a place where makers come to show their work and learn new things from other makers.

    These events vary in size too, the smaller ones can have just 300 people and around 10 makers attending and the larger Faires over 150 makers and up to 6000 attendees. They last for around 8 hours in a single day, and most of them take place during spring and summer to take advantage of the nice weather.

    Despite being independently organized, you have to apply for and receive a license from Maker Faire to organize one yourself. They provide a set of guidelines and resources that might be quite helpful if you are considering to arrange a Mini Maker Faire. Find out more here.

    Week by week: every Mini Maker Faire

    But for the time being here's every Mini Maker Faire in May: in the US three events will be held on May 2, Cedar Rapids (IA), North Little Rock (AK) and Chicago Northside (IL), and that very same day we have Jinqiao (Shanghai, China). Trossen Robotics (video below) will be in Chicago Northside:

    Next weekend, May 9, Rockford Auburn (IL) will held its first Faire along with Orange County (Irvine, California) and Honolulu (HI). Over Europe, Trieste in Italy and Stockholm in Sweden are facing their second edition.

    You can enjoy a two day event in Austin (TX) on May 16 & 17. We have a first timer in Wilson County (TX) and another one in the Institute of Imagination (London, UK). And yet another two day long Faire in Jerusalem (Israel, May 24 & 25).

    To finish the month we have a pretty busy weekend. Four cities will be joining with a first edition event on May 30: Minneapolis / St. Paul (MN), Jackson Hole (WY), Meridian (MS) and Southwest Michigan (MI). In America you could also attend Reno (NV), Piedmont(CA), Cape Cod (MA), and Sunshine Coast (BC, Canada). And, finally, Halifax (UK).

    Featured Maker Faires in May

    As we just told you before, one of the two Flagship Faires (Bay Area) is in May. Apart from this massive event, two more Featured Faires will be held this month. Featured Faires are organized in collaboration with Maker Faire and and are larger in attendance and duration than Mini Faires. They last for a couple of days and usually have over 10,000 attendees and more than 200 maker exhibits.

    The first one in this month is Paris Maker Faire, on May 2 & 3. It will take place in the Foire de Paris exposition (Paris Fair), and it will have more than 6,000 m2 available and over 250 makers are expected. Apart from the usual hacks and projects regarding electronics, drones and DIY, there will be art and interactive performances, like Les Machines de l'île in the video below:

    At the end of the month, during the very last weekend, May 30 & 31, we have the other featured Faire in Taipei (Taiwan). Already facing its third edition, is one of the Maker Faire veterans in Asia.

    Check every event in this map

    Make sure you find some time to attend to one of this events, you won't regret it!

    We will keep you informed about every upcoming Faire, we have some really busy months ahead.

    Read about other events here.

  • Counting the days till the Maker Faire Bay Area 2015

    MakerCon

    Lately, we have been telling you about how the Maker Faire started and all the different maker events for the month of April. Now, we are going to look a little bit closer at the Maker Faire Bay Area. It will take place in a couple of weeks, May 15, 16 & 17, 2015, in San Mateo, California, so you can start getting ready for the greatest show and tell on earth.

    This year there will be an early access on Friday, May 15, so Industry Innovators, Maker Movement Partners, Corporate Groups, Educators and school groups and the Media have a dedicated and focused time with the makers before the busy weekend.

    Maker Week

    Along with the Maker Faire in New York, this is one of the two Flagship Faires. Since these are the biggest Maker meetings it doesn't just come down to a single weekend. The whole week leading up to the event is dedicated to activities and conferences in which makers and hackers can warm up for the main event.

    Starting on Monday 11, the San Mateo Innovation Week holds the kick-off party for a week to celebrate the spirit of creativity, productivity and innovation. A hackathon oriented to civic projects will start on Tuesday and the very next day begins the STEM fair, an event created for young students to get interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. A series of presentations and talks on innovative strategies in reducing violence in communities will close the week on Friday.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday, May 12 & 13, MakerCon, a Conference for Makers by Makers, will host several presentations and meetings regarding the influence of Making on education, economy and emerging markets, manufacturing or design. MakerCon is the place for entrepreneurs or product developers to seek advice and information on the financial and market aspects of their prototypes and inventions.

    Keep up to date with the schedule for the Maker Week.

    What to do in the Maker Faire Bay Area

    The Flagship Faires (Bay Area and NY) are massive events, so you probably want to carefully plan your weekend to make sure you don't miss anything interesting.

    Hundreds of makers will be showcasing their work on the faire. Here you can check the complete list of makers that will attend the event. You can browse by topic to find the hacks and projects you are most interested in. It covers from 3D printing to music, food, health or robotics, surely there is something that draws your attention. (Call for makers).

    Maker exhibit consists of an individual or groups and organizations willing to demonstrate what they make. You can also attend to performances from musicians and entertainers (like the Burning Man in the video above), they usually take place on stage, but, in the past, some of them were roaming around the venue. They all are encouraged to bring an interactive exhibit or performance to enhance participation.

    Apart from the exhibits and performances there will be 10 to 45 minute long presentations from makers who'd like to describe and talk about their project and how it works, saving some time for Q&A. The complete schedule with every activity will be out in a few days.

    e-health_product_1-300x300

    Cooking Hacks in Maker Faire

    Cooking Hacks proudly sponsors the Maker Faire Bay Area and will be at the tenth annual meeting. Last year we attended the event to showcase our main products and hacks.

    Among others, we presented the e-Health Sensor Platform, a shield for Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Intel Galileo that allows to perform medical applications with 10 different sensors. Inventor Michael Script developed and showed a Infant Respiratory Rate Sensor, based on the e-Health platform, that could help to treat infant pneumonia by measuring breath rate, heart rate and body position. Read about it here.

    We also presented Open Garden, an open source alternative to control your indoor and outdoor plants, and the Radiation Shield. Some of the custom hacks that we took to the Bay Area were the Mind-controlled Beer Machine, the Cooking Hacks Dog Robot and the RFID LED Lamp.

    Read about our visit to the event last year (Part I – Part II).

    Cooking Hacks Beer Machine
    Our cute robot dog

    We will keep you posted on our visit to the Maker Faire Bay Area 2015.

  • International Space Apps Challenge

    space_apps_logo

    The Space Apps Challenge is an international event coordinated by NASA. A 48 hour long hackathon, it is focused on space exploration and international collaboration to produce open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space.

    On April 11&12 teams of tech enthusiasts competed and collaborated to contribute with innovative alternatives to a list of 25 global challenges in four areas: Earth, Outer Space, Humans and Life in Space, making use of open data supplied by NASA missions. These challenges range from designing your own asteroid mission to mapping of drinking water resources.

    133 cities around the world joined this event that encourages to cooperate and work together, and nearly a thousand projects were presented. Local hosts judge the project at each location based on creativity, impact, sustainability, presentation and product solution. Up to two of them can be nominated and advance to a global judging round. Besides, each event can pick one People's Choice nomination so everybody can vote for their favorites via social media among the top 25. See the global nominations here.

    In this global round, it's time for NASA to select five winners in each of the five finalist categories: Best Mission Concept, Best Use of Hardware, Best Use of Data, Most Inspiring and Galactic Impact. Finalists must upload to a public repository any code developed for the app and have to prepare a short description and record a one minute video about the project.

    Space Apps Zaragoza

    Zaragoza held one of the many events that took place over Europe. Libelium and Cooking Hacks sponsored this Space Apps Challenge, and contributed by providing five Arduino Uno that were handed over to the winners.

    It was the second edition of Space Apps Zaragoza. Last year was really successful, with over 80 participants, and even one of the teams, OpenCuriosity, made it to the international final (read about it here). The place was filled with students, young professionals and techies.

    SpaceAppsZgz_small

    The day started with a talk on cosmic radiation followed by a presentation of ideas and teams. Then it was time for every team to work on their apps. Another talk on the Space Race on the evening and after that, everybody kept working until late at night. On the second day, all the teams hurried to finish their projects and present them to the jury.

    A total of eight teams presented their projects, which were focused on various themes: water management, wearables, forest mapping... Here you have the two picks for the international round and the people's choice app: Eye of Horus, Cropper and WaterImprove.

    Eye of Horus

    The first project to be nominated was Eye of Horus, an app developed by Makeroni team that meets the challenge of Space Wearables: to design wearable clothing that could help engineers, technicians on earth and researchers and astronauts in space.

    It is a open source platform that enables the user to interact with objects via eye-tracking. It includes a wireless system that evaluates eye pupil images under infrared illumination, and a frontal camera that lets the system know where you are looking at.

    The prototype is powered by a lithium battery that supplies 5V through a DC/DC converter. It includes a VoCore, a coin-sized Linux computer with WiFi that runs OpenWrt, a small USB endoscope camera and IR leds to illuminate the eyes. The pupil absorb IR light, resulting in a dark spot in the images recorded by the camera. A bandpass filter was attached to the camera to block the non-infrared frequencies of light.

    As a complement for this prototype, a Light beacon (Infrared Flashlight) device was designed so the system can communicate with other devices. When the eye tracking system detects that you are looking at the IR light from the beacon the computer sends a turn on/off request. The beacon receives this request through a bluetooth low energy module (BLE) and, in this case, turns on and off a lamp with a relay control module. They also 3D printed the casing for the system.

    Luis Martín, from Cooking Hacks, and José Luis Berrocal, from Libelium's IT Department, are part of this team. We are proud of you guys!

    Find out all about Eye of Horus here.

    cropper_small

    Cropper

    The second nominee was Cropper, an app developed by five students of the University of Zaragoza to solve the Crop Alert Challenge: a mobile/web app that provides crowd-sourced data so it helps growers to deal with pests and diseases in their crops.

    In their own words it is a real-time collaborative social-network made for farmers who want to alert to other farmers of dangerous events, like floods, storms, plagues, diseases, etc. Users are able to add an event or report diseases in their crops so the data is represented on a world map. You can subscribe to a specific area in order to receive an alert with any incident related to it.

    Follow Cropper's development on their blog and Twitter account.

    People's Choice: WaterImprove

    This team, which includes an economist and a geologist, attemps to solve the Clean Water Mapping Challenge. They made an app that represents drinking water quality anywhere in the world so you can visualize data on a map in real time. Read about their project here.

    The results of the global judging process will be announced in May, we will keep you posted on it.

  • IoT & Cloud - Weekly Recap

    This week in Libelium, our main Cloud Partners and Distributors have come to our headquarters to participate in our first IoT Cloud Week. The aim of this meetings was to provide specialized Cloud training for distributors. Find out more here.

    Following this week's theme we have been searching for cloud related hacks and projects. Here's what we have found.

    Cloud-Enabling a Bathroom Scale

    Summer is getting closer and we all want to watch our weight. Darryl Tan shared a pretty cool hack that could help you out. He came across a scale with a wireless (infrared) display that can be detached, so you can see your weight on it.

    Darryl had some experience with IR signals so he used a 38kHz IR receiver and a 38kHz IR receiver and a logic analyzer and found out it was encoding the data by pulse distance coding. To decode the data he captured the waveform of several amounts of weight and exported the values until it looked like increasing hexadecimal numbers, then he figured out how the weight was represented and the bytes corresponding to the status and checksum.

    CloudScale2

    Then it was time to connect it to the cloud to be able to plot the data. He used a Raspberry Pi and wrote a Python script to monitor the IR receiver. The script checks the status byte to send the data (weight and time) to the Google Docs Spreadsheet. He added a small LED to indicate when the data has been saved.

    Don't forget to visit Darryl's blog.

    Posted on Adafruit.

    Solar tracker

    This is an Internet Cloud connected Solar Tracker. This project came up after the need to automate the irrigation of a vegetable garden. The objective was for the garden to be kind of self-sufficient, so a solar panel for tracking means the garden can water itself when it needs to. On the other hand, to make the tracker efficient it had to be inexpensive.

    The project is built around a wooden two-axis platform, wooden gears and re-used curtain pole. It includes a 90 Watt solar panel, a rechargeable battery, accelerometer, magnetometer and stepper motors. It is connected to the Cloud via WiFi, and the system is controlled by an Electric Imp.

    Find out more in Instructables about this multi-themed project.

    Cloud Based Smart Water Meter

    You probably know about the severe drought California is facing at this moment. Here's something that can be helpful to avoid wasting water: Team H20 built and programmed a smart water meter to track the amount of water you use at home. They 3D printed some custom parts and used a servo, an Ultrasonic Sensor and an Intel Edison to control the system.
    h20_schematic

    This project allows to read water flow to send the data to the cloud (Microsoft Azure). They also developed an app that shows the data to the user in order to make a more responsible use of water.

    Via Hackster.io

    Here at Cooking Hacks we also have our own Arduino-based platform for water monitoring: Open Aquarium. It is designed to automate the control and maintenance tasks in fish tanks and ponds. It can detect water level and leakage and measure temperature, pH or Conductivity. It also includes several actuators: fish feeder, heater, LED lamp and water pump.

    On the other hand, we have the Waspmote solution provided by Libelilum: Smart Water. It is a wireless sensor platform for water quality monitoring. Oriented to Smart Cities, it enables to measure multiple parameters (pH, turbidity, temperature...). and features autonomous nodes that connect to the Cloud for real-time control.

    See a comparative review.

    Check these IoT related hacks.

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