IoT hardware control
25 July 2019 at 12:51 am
This last year I’ve kept busy consulting on internet connected electronics. I still work on both OrderX and Roest, but I have several new and old customer projects going as well. Here’s some of the things I’ve done recently.
Getting the Roest coffee roaster all the way through to CE approval and now worldwide sales has taken quite some time, but I’m extremely proud of the product. Serial production is in full swing and the machines are shipping all over the world. I’m currently working on a robot control system that will be used offshore, but I’ll write more about that at a later time. It’s great fun to work with bluetooth and Android apps for controlling it!
Energisenteret @ Hunderfossen
Back in 2013 I made several installations for the Energy Science Center (EIS) at Hunderfossen Family Park and I’ve since done several installations/exhibits for them. This year, it was time for a major refresh and some additions so I was invited back as a contributor by SixSides who is the main contractor, responsible for the larger exhibit. Initially I was called in to help with a project that nobody has ever done - an exhibit for kids where they’d be sending foam balls through tubes. When designing attractions like this it’s extremely important that there is little or no down-time, so jerry-rigging something just won’t do.
The challenge is that while Hunderfossen Family Park closes during winter, EIS will stay open for kids and students all year. During winter time, parts of the exhibit is used to teach those studying electronics how to locate and fix electrical mistakes in residential houses. The new exhibit will also teach them how to solve typical issues in farming houses. Inside the building, a small pigs barn is built up, featuring all the typical rooms you’d find in an actual barn. Part of this is the fully functional pigsty containing only AR pigs (using iPads). The challenge is that these rooms also need to have a function in the summer (while the theme park is open), so in the pigsty I made a machine where kids could “feed” the virtual pigs using foam balls.
The final product is a machine featuring a small game that never ends. On the screen are 3 piglets and they have a need for either water, food, heat or moisture. You’ll drop a ball in, shoot it using a pinball-like rod into one of 4 pockets. Depending on where the ball ends up, it will either trigger light effects or the ball will zoom through a series of transparent tubes into a box with a mirror surface. The balls that collect here will every now and then drop out into a tray and when the kids go over to pick up the balls - we turn on light & sound behind the mirror surface that suddenly displays a sow’s head, scaring the kids properly! They absolutely love it and run out to get their parents/siblings/friends to get them scared as well. Great fun to see it in action and to create the project!
I also did several smaller projects while at EIS and maintained some old ones too. The tunnel with the pressure sensitive floor also got an overhaul as this has been one of the most popular attractions at EIS since it was installed in 2013.
Bitraf’s tool tracking system
Some time ago, the Bitraf membership system got a much needed update. We now have a nice looking frontend with a solid backend that allows members to manage their membership, but this also laid the foundation for something we’ve wanted for a long time - controlling access to some of our tools. The membership system now has a feature where you can put members into “Circles”. The first circle we controls the physical doors to Bitraf. Active members with door access can come and go as they like, given that they have an active membership. This was in the core functionality, but we’ve now extended it to include access to laser cutters and power tools.
We have listings of all past and present members that have done the required training to use the laser cutters. On several occasions we had seen the remains of things that never should have been laser cut, so this was the first tool to “lock down”. We made a circle holding members with laser training and extended the membership system to support access to tools based on circles. The system requires WiFi for verification, so after ensuring that we had solid WiFi where the tools were, I started implementing it. First on one machine and then on both lasers. If the laser is available, a 10mm LED will be Green. If the machine is “Checked out” by another user, the LED will be Red. If there is a network issue, the LED will turn off allowing the user to easily pinpoint the problem.
The main picture for this post (above) shows the cabinet holding our power tools and specialty machines. All the tools in this cabinet require training to use and is only open to those that have the required training. We’ll soon extend this with a panel that hold keys to other dangerous tools such as the metal lathe, table saw, router and more.
Internet controlled cabinets
A marketing agency in Oslo is working on a prototype app for #Ruter - the main provider of public transport in the larger Oslo area. I can’t tell too much about the project, but it involved creating custom furniture that users could control from the #Ruter App. This was just a prototype and the project is no longer on public display, but I think they’ll be back once they decide how they want to use it. The system is based on custom hardware I developed for the Bitraf tool tracking, so it is well tested and I have all the hardware to make similar projects.
But loads more!
I still lecture on Embedded Systems (all year) and Machine to Machine Communications (half the year) at Høyskolen Kristiania. The school has changed a lot since I started. Initially it was called NITH, but that was purchased by Westerdals and last year it was purchased by Høyskolen Kristiania. It is now the largest private university level school in Norway. I’ve also done training for private companies, Fablabs, Makerspaces, public sector and Universities.
I’ve also done marketing stunts with Jcdecaux, gone from using Rhino to Fusion360, done Bitraf workshops on SMD soldering, PCB design, IoT, 3D printing, robotics & machine maintenance. I’ve made several PCB’s per month for things like interactive games, lighting control, medical equipment, signage, NFC readers and much more. Bitraf is doing great with close to 300 members and lots of activity both day and night. I’m really enjoying it these days!