04/28/2014 at 21:18 •
Hey we finally finished the Jack Dispenser!
We first had to finish the painting and add the final paint layer to give it the perfect touch. Next was to glue the plama ball circuit into the water sprayer, we wanted it to be the closer from the plasma ball to ensure the cable's contact in it. We then had to solder all of the speakers cables (4 one-end jack connector) the auxiliary input (one 3.5mm to 6.35mm jack). We used a jack to RCA adapter to plug the Raspberry Pi straight into the amplifier.
After assembling the 3-floor structure, well... We had to disassemble it because the leadscrews were too tall. So, after re-cutting the leadscrews and re-assembling the inner structure we were ready for the big final : put the plasma ball on the top the the Jack Dispenser and turn it on with some kickass guitar sounds. The results can be seen on the videos in the details of our project. Check it out!
It is complete ! Well...
...Not exactly. We still have to improve some of the features to enhance the user's experience a bit more as it is quite essential. So even if it is tagged complete as the Jack Dispenser is now fully funtionnal, things like the WebUI still need to be improved, for example we're actually thinking of a replacement for lighttpd in order not to go through the whole server configuration and its use with PHP. We'd like to find a server that could be directly implemented in the package, so if you think of one that could fit our need, tell us in the commentary section!
What about your amplifier ?
Nothing yet. The plane must have gone lost somewhere in the bermuda triangle as we still have no news or even the ability to track the package. We somehow hope to receive it in the week or even the next one but we can't know. We'll update the pictures and cabling of the amplifier as soon as we receive it so stay tuned for some more cool stuff! For the moment, all we have is an amplifier we borrowed to a friend.
What your project could be used for ?
We tried to make generic scripts that would be reusable in others projects. We already have some ideas on how to re-use our whc-switch in others projects like the "HackerBoy" which would basically be a Hacked GameBoy containing a rasberry Pi. It would of course be powered by a little battery. The HackerBoy would actually use the screen and buttons to control the Rasberry Pi and use command line softwares and utility. As it would be a connected GameBoy, it should be able to make a lots of cool things like our Jack Dispenser.
minidlna-autoconfig is now on the AUR and accessible by everyone. We think that some people are fighting to get a simple but working configuration for minidlna and we are distributing these scripts just for them. We will add an entry to the ArchLinux Wiki to make it more popular and see if it can help people.
We also created the "Share Your Profits License" you should take a look on, it is a just-borned license, but it'll be finalized soon and everything we coded for the Jack Dispenser is now distributed under it!
The Jack Dispenser, version 2 ?
After seeing the announcement of the new form-factor for the Raspberry Pi, we had some thoughts about making a new version of the Jack-dispenser, with custom PCB and fully integrated 4 channel audio amplifier (maybe a custom amplifier with some STA540 or alike amplifier). We will probably try to do a better structure, perhaps using fiberglass.
Briefly, we will try to keep this project alive ! Stay tuned for others updates and demonstrations !
04/24/2014 at 22:23 •
Here we are for our third update since the begining of this project and we are actually about to tag it complete.
The end is near!
This week and the last one's work was a lot about coding and building the structure.
Like we planned, we bought some hinges at the local store and we used our Dremel to drill some place for one hinge that is discretly located on the upper outside border of the basins. One hinge seems enough for us but we had to find a way to keep it opened properly and so we chose the good old-fashion chains to keep it open at certain angle without falling.
Still with the Dremel, we drilled some holes in the water sprayer for the female jacks and cut the bottom of it so we could pass cables from the water sprayer to the basins. We also drilled a slot into the water sprayer in order to install the circuit from the plasma ball into it and have an access to the on/off switch. We will install it definitly when the Jack Dispenser will be painted.
As stated above, we also had to start painting the Jack Dispenser so it would be the same color as the device in the Futurama's episode, unfortunatly we weren't able to find the same colour and so went for the Bordeau painting spray. The entire painting spray was actually enough to correctly paint the entire structure (note that the basins received three successive layers of paint minimum as much as most of the other parts that needed to be painted).
GPIO & WebUI
We spent a lot of time on the software side, trying to figure out a simple way to enhance user experience without having to add a display and/or a keyboard. As described in our second Project Log, we made a script that reads the input from a physical switch and switches between hotspot and client mode depending on the switch state. The script, nammed whc-switch, is also able to start/stop/restart systemd services depending on the switch state. You are able to customize this by using the configuration file which is shipped with whc-switch. Actually, we needed it for gmrender-resurrect which doesn't react really well when changing network configuration.
More than that we have started working on a WebUI you can use to configure/add/remove netctl profiles as you wish and display the profiles specs. The WebUI is designed to receive only one connection at a time so you wouldn't actually be able to edit profiles from two computers causing troubles to happen when saving the files from two locations. It is more secure even if passwords from the netctl profiles are displayed in clear text (we will be working on encryption after the contest is finished).
We felt that we also needed a way to communicate the wifi state to the user. We chose the simplest way: leds. One blue for the wifi state and one red that will light up if a problem occurs. The blue led will blink when the wifi is in hotspot mode (host mode) and will stay on if the wifi is in client mode.
How to connect the switch and the leds on the Raspberry Pi (B Rev2)
As we showed you on the last update, we thought of a little structure for the power supply, the Rasberry Pi and the motorcycle amplifier. We chose to use the rodolpheh's CNC to cut and drill the plates in MDF and now have our internal structure almost ready (we just need the amplifier to make the last floor).
A rip in the space-time continuum lost our amplifier
We're still waiting for the motorcycle amplifier. We bought it one month ago from DealExtreme and have no news since the fourth of April. We don't think we will get it before the end of the contest but we still want to tag it as complete because nothing have to be made on the amplifier except plugging cables, which is not a hard task. We rely on the understanding of the Hackaday's team for accepting our project as complete.
We're sorry we can't present you the final version of the Jack Dispenser but we have another amplifier we'll use for the demo just to show you it's fully functionnal but it doesn't fit our specs. We will also show you how the...
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04/07/2014 at 20:04 •
"We're back baby !" for our second update after two weeks since the last project log.
Things are real fine, we actually received most of the components we needed and were able to get to work on both hardware and software sides and so we were able to code the things we needed to configure minidlna quite easily and post a build instruction about it.
"1.21 gigawatts of electricity !" [Dr. Emmett L. Brown]
Last week, we took a day to go to the local store in order to prepare a good power cable for the power supply. We used a flat plug with a little hook to unplug it and a foot-triggered switch. This won't looks really futuristic but hey! if you have seen "THX1138", you know that white IS futuristic! Quickly, we got into testing and adjust the power supply.
Adjusting the power supply
THX1138 style cable
The Cable guys
As the jack dispenser needs jack connectors we also started the soldering part. So now our 5 female jacks are ready to be plugged on the little amp we are about to receive. We soldered one of our ø6,5mm female jack to ø3,5mm male jack for auxiliary sound input using an old audio cable for stereo. The last four of them are soldered on mono audio cable. Since the female jacks are stereo, we needed to solder it in a way it would act as a mono. We came up with this cabling:
The cables we made
The cables were tested with an adapter and plugged to a laptop. It worked perfectly as we planned.
Thinking gave us a headache
The plasma ball has also been disassembled to see how it could fit in the whole structure. We also tried, with success, to add a longer wire to the plasma ball for when we will fit it in the Jack Dispenser. There is some kind of metal scrap inside the plasma ball and the wire should touch it in order to make a good electrode.
For the same concerns we made a 3D model of a tiny 3 floor wooden structure that will be placed in the lower part of the jack dispenser. The advantage of this little structure is that it will ballast the object so we can easily open it without worrying it would fall. Opening the jack dispenser will probably be done with hinges, by leaning the upper part like you would do with a treasure chest. The floors will be held with leadscrews and nuts. It is as simple as it could be and we should be able to get it in or out easily for maintenance.
Here is a quick model of our structure. We will probably update it as soon as it evolves.
Getting the sound
Besides all the functions we can find in the amplifier (SD card, USB, aux input, FM/AM etc...), we felt like we needed a more modern way to play our music. We found a USB dongle that was lost on a previous project and decided to search a way to stream music from any devices without dragging kilometers of cables or having to install complex software.
After a few experiments with different media streaming systems, we choose to get our hand on the DLNA protocol which is widely used by a lot of (not so) smart TV and media devices. The DLNA protocol (in a media streaming context, forget about DLNA printers), allows a device to be one of the three kinds of these devices:
- DLNA Server: this device can stream media over the network
- DLNA Renderer: this device render the media (plays sound on headphones or video on screen)
- DLNA Controller: this device act as a controller, it can tell from which server the renderer should get its stream and is able to pause/play it or make playlists
We came up with minidlna which is a common software you can find in any good Operating System. Minidlna acts as a DLNA Server. With it, you should be able to read media contained in an external hard disk or in the SD card of the Raspberry Pi, on a DLNA Renderer such as your TV or your cellphone.
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In order to add DLNA rendering to our Jack Dispenser, we used gmrender-resurrect which is a not so easy to find software. Luckily, it was available in the Arch Linux AUR (user repository full of scripts to build packages). It works natively with Alsa and enables the user to send...