Archives For January 2013

Let the fun begin

Since years I always thought of having a house fully automated. I’m still far away from having my own house, but why wait? I have to start somewhere, and my current apartment seems like a nice place were to experiment. This is how I thought of Project Ilos (yes, I’m a big fan of the Mass Effect trilogy).

Let’s start with the basics: Project Ilos is not really a project. Is more or less a name I gave to the series of things I do when there is no movie to watch, or I’m tired of browsing through reddit. Those things involve arduino, android, and some electronics (sometimes beer drinking, as the Ballmer Peak also applies when tinkering 1 ). The project does have a goal:

“Build a sort-of an intelligent apartment, solving (or at least making more bearable) issues I encounter every day, with the help of some electronics.”

One thing is for sure: these problems could (and probably should) be categorized as #firstworldproblems. From the “knowing when my mailbox has new letters” to the “tell me when the washing machine is done” kind of things, so don’t get too excited. Heck! They are probably even gonna make me more lazy somehow, but it’s the joy of working on that thing what counts (… I guess). All of these things I plan to tackle with some home-made arduinos, sensors and xBees for wireless communication. As a centralizer I will use an arduino mega, with an ethernet shield. I plan to have a tablet for accessing all the notifications from the sensors, this is where android comes in place. What is not in the scope of this little project is using android’s host capabilities for connecting directly to the arduino mega adk. Since I have an ethernet shield I’ll try to use the network for communication. I’m not explaining much of the project in this introductory post as I prefer to go into details later on and explain each module as I’m working on it.

I never properly documented nor planned the project per se. It’s more a “on the fly” kind of thing. This is an attempt to document it, but still no attempt to plan it. New issues will be discovered, and new solutions implemented. The need to document it came because of the endless amount of other blogs I have used during my personal projects, that I felt it was about time I contribute back. I’m not sure if someone will find this helpful, but given the amount of people that use the internetz, and the rising popularity of DIY electronics, I say the chances are somehow in my favor.

  1. I always heard of the word tinkering while working on these kind of projects. I got the idea of what it meant because of the context, for me it has always mean something like hacking. However, since I started writing I’m trying to be careful when I use certain words. This is why I googled tinkering and a result from the free dictionary says of a tinker to be a “clumsy repairer or worker; a meddler”. Even Google suggest as definition “Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect.” I found that to be more fitting than what I originally thought it meant.

Hello world!

January 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

Even before I started my high school I knew what I wanted to study: electronics. I was the kind of kid that destroys all of his electronic toys so see how they are working and try to put them together again (well, I mostly failed in that part). But I did kept a full box of cables, batteries, speakers, motors and a buch of other stuff that belonged to my christmas presents and try to make use of them whenever I could. Last time I packed my stuff in my parent’s house, I still could find some of it laying around.

When I reached high school I had also my first real interest in computers and I remember I started to learn Macromedia Flash. It was just so incredible what you could do with it. It was the future! I kept teaching myself (mostly with online resources) how to make flash websites and script using Action Script. Since then, I have gained interest in technologies and my curiosity has led me to learn by myself several of them.

Fast forward some years, I studied my bachelor in electronic engineering, decided than even I like hardware a lot, I was more proficient in software, and then made my masters in informatics. During my masters I really dig HCI, but I went into image processing as my focus, another area which I really liked. The research in image processing is both interesting and challenging, but if I had redone my master again, I would probably go with HCI, it’s just so much more appealing to me now. During my masters I was also flirting with mobile technologies and gain interest in Android, which led me to look for jobs in that area after I graduated.

Writing has never been my thing, and I don’t pretend to create the most impressive narrative ever written in a blog. The origin for this blog came half by my passion, and half by the need to put in use the $20 bucks I spend per year maintaining a hosting that I rarely use, other than to host some images for a friend’s hamburger blog (Yeah, he likes them a lot). And what is my passion? Technologies. I love them (almost like my friend’s love for hamburgers).