About me

I'm a technologist at heart - my house has at least one computer in every room and I write a lot of software in my spare time. I'm especially interested in human computer interaction and have built many small gadgets that aim to simplify my life with technology. Below are examples(with video) of some gadgets I have built:

Automatic pneumatic door

This project combines electronics, magnetics, optoelectronics and pneumatics to create an automatic opening door, <nerd>like on Star Trek</nerd> ;P.

Behind the scenes, the components used are a Arduino Uno, a HMC5883L magnetometer, a couple of Sharp IR sensors, a couple of cheapo pneumatic valves, a 1m long actuator/piston, a Bambi BB8 silent compressor and a load of wires/pneumatic connectors.

The door operates in 3 modes:

  • Open(opens the door, stays open)
  • Close(closes the door, stays closed)
  • Auto(closes the door but opens/closes automatically).
Challenges included getting the right parts for the pneumatic connectors and filtering noise over an 18m stretch of cable for the IR sensors. The source code shows some quite agressive filtering of output from the sensors, as well as some confusing logic to make sure that the door doesn't close on you or open at the wrong time.

Internet connected barometer

Using the Phidget Servo Module, along with a USB Extender and a scheduled Perl script, this internet connected barometer automatically changes to show what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. The data is scraped from WeatherUnderground and then interpreted by the script.
The script also checks for train delays from the Southeastern railway website, along with new e-mails to a special e-mail address. If there are train delays or a new message is in the special inbox, these supercede the weather on the barometer until the delays are cleared/e-mail is read.

Door opening watch(with train times)

The Sony MBW-150 watch is a conventional looking watch with an OLED display and Bluetooth capabilities. Thanks to the Openwatch plugin for Android, along with the excellent Tasker app and a bit of server side coding and home side hardware, I am able to open the front door to our flat by simply pressing a button on my watch.

Pressing another button will send the next trains from Liverpool Street to the display on my watch, along with the platform numbers, scraping the information from National Rail.

Channelbus

This summer I'll be launching a new website/service called ChannelBus. Holding pages are at channelbus.com, channelbus.be and channelbus.co.uk. More details coming soon.

Folkestone & Dover commuter group

Since I travel daily through my local station, and it's frankly a bit grotty, I've decided to start a commuter group with my fellow travelling companions to help improve both the stations and service at Folkestone stations and Dover. The website is Folkestone and Dover Commuter group