A project log for Futurama's Jack dispenser

"Grab a Jack !"

pierreppierrep 04/24/2014 at 22:230 Comments

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.

Discrete hinge

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).


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 whc-switch works.

Stay tuned for our last Update Log on saturday !