Category Archives: Projects

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Maker Faire Barcelona 2017

I’m having some busy weeks again and the blog is suffering from my absence ūüôā I had¬†a bunch of comments to accept (please remember all comments are being moderated). And even more projects pending (including a new version of the ESPurna firmware). But I just wanted to let you know that I will be at the Barcelona Maker Faire next June 17 & 18.

Hope to see you there, it will be fun for sure!

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Slices of a clock

There are so many ways to tell the time. DIYers have been doing clocks since the Ancient Egypt (obelisks lacked portability, thou). Every modern maker has a clock amongst her first projects. I have done some myself, including a fibonacci clock, a wordclock with a fancy green matrix effect and an unreleased project that hopefully will see the light someday soon.

But recently I came back to the idea behind the wordclock before, to extend it in different ways:

  • Replace the ATMega328P with an ESP8266 (NTP support and user interaction)
  • Smaller sizes (8×8 LED matrices)
  • Smaller PCB, less buttons
  • Add buzzer for alarms
  • Replace the 3D printed part with a wooden grid cut in laser
  • Completely closed enclosure, better presentation
  • Fix some issues with the original board (like the lack of a beefy capacitor across the LED matrix power lines).

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ESPurna smart socket

After a busy month I decided to spend some energy on doing hardware instead of software and the result was the ESPurna board I posted about just yesterday. The goal was to have a device based on the ESP8266 I could fit into my house wall gangs, with an SPDT relay to work with multi-way switches and power monitoring using the same IC the Sonoff POW uses: the HLW8012.

As a side project today I’ve been searching on the box of the TODO projects and I have rescued a¬†KEMO STG15¬†[Ebay] plug housing with socket. These sockets are somewhat expensive and really bulky but the good thing is that there is quite some room to fit some electronics inside, but not a Sonoff board, too big.

But, what about an ESPurna board?

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The ESPurna board, a smart wall switch with power monitoring

If you have read me, you might know I have a firmware for ESP8266-based smart switches called ESPurna. The firmware integrates with Alexa, Domoticz, Home Assistant and about any other service that supports MQTT or HTTP REST APIs. It supports a variety of devices, including almost the whole Sonoff family by Itead Studio, but also some other commercially available boards and light bulbs, and open source hardware projects as well.

But sometimes you just don’t find the proper hardware for your specific case. Maybe it doesn’t expose enough GPIOs, maybe it’s short of analog ports, maybe you need a double-throw relay,… Sometimes we manage to work around these¬†limitations of the hardware adding peripherals or using a thin iron tip. But other times the problem is that it just doesn’t fit.

And size was the main reason I started creating my own smart switch board.

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Magic Home LED Controller ESPurna’d

Following the bright path (sic) of the Ai-Thinker AiLight / Noduino OpenLight I wrote about a few weeks ago, now it’s turn for one of those devices you purchase but once they arrive they are stored in the TODO box until they eventually come back to life.

The Magic Home LED Controller [Aliexpress, also available from Ebay] is an ESP8266 based single-color RGB(W) LED strip controller. It works with every 5050 LED strip [Aliexpress] out there. Just be careful since even thou some LED strips are waterproof [Aliexpress] this controller is not.

Being able to flash a custom firmware in the controller lets you really own the device. Why? Because:

  1. You are not required to install a proprietary app on you phone to manage it
  2. You are not limited by the options the developers of that app have decided you will need
  3. You can make it interoperate with other devices at home
  4. You, and only you, know when you turn on your lights
  5. And if all the previous points are not enough: it’s so much fun!

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