This project was the winner of the CSU-IEEE Spring Open Design Competition. I was the group leader for this project that built a 'coffee table' system to perform various home automation tasks to simplify a user's daily flow. The table was powered by a touchscreen and a Raspberry Pi and peripherals were controlled by multiple Arduinos.

Various functions were coded in Python and C++ and multiple hardware systems were created. The tools that were created included automatic USB backup (upon insertion, to a remote server), a universal remote (with a GUI interface), a thermostat (with a GUI interface), climate and laundry notifications, and streamlined light control, all of which had the option to be voice controlled and were enabled by wireless networked communication.

The Human Preservation Vehicle was a project I worked on with Greg Myer and was our entry into the 2015 CSU-IEEE Winter Design Competition (took 2nd). This competition was intended to be a minimalist (limited parts list) competition where the prompt was to design something that would help you in a zombie apocalypse.

This was fairly challenging because there's only so much you can do with basic components. However, while the Human Preservation Vehicle may not have helped fighting zombies, it preserved key aspects of previous societies with musical masterpieces from Dr. Dre, Morse code communication, and LED light shows. It also could auto-navigate by responding to light and included various perhipherals (temperature sensing, etc).

LEDs. Pixabay (CC)

I have a lot of RGB LEDs at the moment. Like, in the thousands. I also have some accompanying parts to drive them (though not fully, I'm lacking the ridiculous power supplies that I'll need to drive them at the moment). So I'm currently trying to figure out what the best way to matrix the LEDs for a cool visual effect. I've considered cubes, panels, globes, etc. but I'm not entirely satisfied as of yet.

There are quite a few LED projects out there but I'm looking to do a few things differently for my project. I'm using RGB LEDs instead of monocolor LEDs (3x more outputs, power), I will not be multiplexing my LEDs (more lines and power but brighter and more color range - other multiplexed projects only can produce 4-bit color (per cathode/anode), I'm looking more at 8-bit color), and I'm looking to have a Raspberry Pi as a master controller (most projects use an Arduino-like controller, I want to be able to have a GUI control-panel of my LEDs). Obviously, I'm going to have to do some tricks to achieve all this - a Raspberry Pi has limited output.

To accomplish all this, I've constructed a scalable architecture that interfaces the Pi to PICs, decoders, and D-latches or shift registers that can drive all the LED outputs. There's just going to be a lot of wires. Or maybe I'll be neat and get some PCB printed and reduce some of those lines. Either way, I need to settle on my LED configuration and then I'll be ready to manufacture.

Below is a Youtube link of an LED Cube that shows some of the the cool things these devices can do.

The brand new Raspberry Pi 2 packs a lot more power than previous versions and is now more suitable for retro game emulation. This project was pretty easy and most of the work was "extra" work as setting up game emulation on the Pi was pretty straightforward. For this project, I bought a 'junked N64' that I used to house the retro system, purely for aesthetic purposes. While RetroPi is a fairly capable system, it is pretty clunky at the moment so I constructed several add-ons to the system that beef up functionality.

I'm not ashamed to admit it but I have trouble waking up in the morning. I've never been a morning person and I tend to have a knack of adapting to whatever alarm clocks I use. This project is a GUI application(Java and Python, writing both versions currently) and will hopefully solve my waking up issues.

The program triggers the computer to wake from sleep (for lower power consumption, may switch to a Raspberry Pi-type computer later for even less) and makes it very difficult to ignore the alarm by initially blasting loud, terrible music that I can input into the program (think like One Direction or Miley Cyrus) and will play from my computer speakers. Then to actually turn off the alarm, I will have to go over to my computer and solve a puzzle to make it stop at which point, I should hopefully be wide awake. At least, that's the goal.

Wikipedia Commons. OneTesla (CC)

Nikola Tesla was a bad-ass (and certainly isn't given enough recognition for his contributions, even with the modern resurgence lately). He made a lot of cool things during his lifetime and was also known for some of his high-voltage experiments. One of these experiments was nicknamed "Tesla coils" after his death and are high-voltage, high-frequency devices. They look pretty amazing when they are running and can even be used to produce sound, something I intend to do with my iteration of the device.

Star Wars droids. Pixabay (CC)

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Who wouldn't wanted a droid like R2-D2? This project will probably be a long running project (kinda like Anakin's C-3PO) as it's pretty ambitious but is currently stuck in the planning stage as it is 'Lacking Proper Funding' currently. As it has been for the past couple of years.

Update: With the new movie out (The Force Awakens), I've come to the decision that I will be prioritizing BB8 over R2D2 for the short term (I guess BB8 is just too damn cute!). I've planning out BB8 for many months now and I have some idea that I think are pretty good. I will use these ideas to create an actual functional unit that works like a real droid. Currently a little low on funding (but that will quickly change) and now that I have re-launched my website, this will become the new priority.

This projects spawns from a kit I put together when I was younger and the subsequent interest I had in IR signals. The basic premise of the device was that it would scan a database of IR signals (assembled from the common IR signals for TVs) and turn them on and off at will It was pretty effective and I still haven't come across a TV that it couldn't handle. However, it was pretty slow and certainly had its limitations so I'm looking to extend its functionality with a new iteration.

I've done a lot of work with IR signals recently, particularly using them for universal remotes (see: HOST project) so I'm looking on adding substantial features to this device that exploit all IR has to offer. Of course, it goes without saying that I do not intend to use this project for any illicit uses. I plan on utilizing recent hardware advancements such as the Raspberry Pi Zero which offers an insanely compact computer, something that is highly desirable for this project.

I envision this handheld project as a long running project that will eventually offer many features outside of IR. In essence, I will pack this device with a lot of hardware not available in essence (or that is in cell phones, but is hard to configure the way I want it to).

Magic Mirror (Michael Teeuw)

In all honesty, I'll preface this one by saying I don't find this project to be particularly interesting (from a challenge perspective). It's fairly straight foward and there are quite a few well done systems by hobbyists out there.

That being said, it's something I have been planning for a few years now, although I don't have the audacity to claim credit any originality - SciFi has had this concept incorporated for decades now. Independent from the recent explosion of these devices, it had also been a concept that I floated at every Open Design competition I participated as a possible project.

I suppose the real draw for this one is to extend functionality of a so called 'Smart Home' as I now have quite a few projects along those lines. I have a few ideas how to spice up this concept with some usual features (various widgets, touch capability, speech recognition, etc.), in addition to connecting to other devices and other capbilities, TBD.

Developed by Sanjay Derbyshire 2015-2019.