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EVE Project Connects XBee to Open Source IoT

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The EVE project, from Ciseco out of Nottingham, United Kingdom is a plug in board for the new Raspberry Pi mini computer. The hardware and software together will create a server for connecting various wireless device protocols to a single point. It features an XBee socket for connections to ZigBee, ZigBee Smart Energy, 802.15.4, WiFi, long-range 900 MHz, DigiMesh and 868 MHz radios.

The Raspberry Pi EVE board is the reference hardware for the IoT Toolkit gateway. It’s a work in progress, and is currently raising funding for development on Kickstarter. Presently they are more than 2/3 of the way to their goal, with time to spare. Cisesco’s Miles Hodkinson and I spoke jut the other day about the project and the possibilities for talking to a Raspberry Pi that’s 28 miles away with the new XBee-PRO 900HP. Sound interesting? You can help fund EVE.

XBee-powered Cymbal Chimp Alert

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You want your project noticed? Nobody can ignore a hyperactive cymbal-playing chimp that creates a cacophony of sound when triggered over the Internet. Inspired as always by Tom Igoe’s Making Things Talk, we hooked this toy terror up to an XBee radio, creating a wireless alarm that grabs the ear as well as the eye and the heart. From the project instructions on the Digi Examples site:

By pairing an XBee with your percussive primate, you create an unmistakable alarm that gets immediate attention. It’s a first-rate way to present alerts that cannot be ignored. Web server down? Customer service queue climbing beyond your comfort? Kids ignoring their chores? This easy hack will put a monkey on their back, and he won’t let go until the warning is heeded!

Check out the ape alert in action in its video below:

Displaying Numbers Wirelessly with XBee

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We’ve given you a number of XBee Examples—coins, words, lamps, buttons scents and dials. Here’s one that’s just about numbers. A 7-Segment Numeric Display connected to an XBee radio will show any digit or letter from zero to Z. Now your project can count, spell and impress. Here’s how we put it on the site:

The XBee directly drives a simple numeric display, and that’s often all a project needs. With a simple 7-segment numeric display you can showhow many, how much, which one or when with precision. It’s a snap to display numbers wirelessly with an XBee radio.

Now you can create a counter that shows how far away Friday is, display your current Amazon or Yelp ratings, show the current flight landing at O’Hare or keep an eye on the temperature in your restaurant’s walk-in freezer.

Naturally the digits in this video were all sent to the device from iDigi, via the XIG. Check out the video to see if any number is special to me:

iDigi Evolving: New Features Increase Insight, Efficiency and Experience

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We are always thinking about how to make iDigi work better for you. So, we’re excited to announce new features and the merge of iDigi device and developer accounts. The merge of device and developer accounts means you get the same free service of the iDigi platform for up to 5 devices, along with a seamless transition for scaling if you choose to add more devices in the future — many more, up to millions if you please.

Alarm Management and Notifications
Allows users to monitor the health of their network. Users can see hundreds or thousands of devices at once, receive status updates and categorize different issues to create specific responses.

iDigi Data Streams for Long Term Storage
Stores operational data for analysis. Where are the problems? What’s going well? Data streams create business intelligence that can reduce the time it takes to understand past behaviors and inform future strategy.

Universal Device Adaptor
This feature expands iDigi’s market. Any device, including those that cannot be modified, can still push data and utilize our cloud.

Merge of Device and Developer Accounts
Accounts can now grow from one test device to a million seamlessly and developer and device cloud accounts will be merged. This creates a better user experience by eliminating confusing signup choices. Users will enjoy the free service for up to five devices and transition directly to payment with the sixth.

What are you waiting for? Get your free iDigi account, here.
Want to learn more? Check out these short videos on the new features here.
Need some ideas on how to get started? Check out the Digi XBee Examples and Guides site.

Controlling AC Devices with XBee

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If it plugs into the wall you can turn it on and off with an XBee radio. Switch lights and appliances on or off wirelessly, even over the Internet! Matt Richardson shows you the ropes in the latest XBee Example for Control of AC Devices. He writes:

Hobby electronics projects usually work at low voltages and with direct current. But what if you want to control your lamps, TVs, or blenders, which operate at higher voltage with alternating current? Situations like this call for a relay, which let you use low current to open and close circuits on high voltage devices. Using the 3.3 volt digital output of the XBee connected to a relay, we can wirelessly control high voltage AC devices.

His example uses the popular PowerSwitch Tail or you can also use a Digi Smart Plug in much the same way. Either method creates worldwide controls for interior lighting, office devices, country homes or commercial equipment. Switch off your lights after your leave for the night or fire up your regional warehouse’s backup air conditioners to save your inventory. The whole thing can be connected to the iDigi Device Cloud for integration with enterprise applications. If it sounds interesting you could start building a prototype today!

Get a Whiff of This: XBee Scent Generator

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The latest XBee Example shows how to create a wireless scent emitter using Digi’s XBee radios. We demonstrate how to easily connect a battery-powered air freshener to the wireless web, using an XBee radio that can link to iDigi via the XIG. From the site:

By pairing the XBee with a scent dispenser, you can create ambient alerts that notify a whole area without making any noise or needing anyone to look at them! This is a terrific way to present information that builds over time. Not meeting your corporate power-saving goals today? A whiff of pine can remind your co-workers to think green. Are sales spiking? Perhaps the smell of cinnamon warns your workforce that the website is getting slow. Or maybe surf’s up at the beach and a the fragrance of ocean breeze pervading your home could change your afternoon plans. It’s a whole new way to interact with information!

What does information smell like? Dunkin’ Donuts would say it smells like profits. Get started with ambient output  to savor the bouquet of your data. Profits up? Database down? From now on your nose will know! Get started with the XBee Scent Generator Example now.

See the Light: New XBee Example

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In the latest post on Digi’s Examples site, Matt Richardson shows how to set up an XBee radio to measure ambient light levels. The photocell sensors used are cheap and versatile. You could track solar quality for a greenhouse or transmit information about natural sunlight to run the lighting in windowless environments. And as Matt writes in his post, photocells are not only good for measuring light. You can also use them to detect human presence or even employ them as a touchless controller:

Photocells are a popular component in electronics projects; they let you sense and take action based on the amount of light hitting the cell. Not only are they great for sensing the ambient light to tell if it’s day or night, but they can also be used as an interface input. That is to say, if someone waves their hand over the sensor, the shadow of the user’s hand can actuate some response. Best of all, these sensors are cheap—at about a dollar a piece, they’re a great component to keep stocked in your bins.

Here’s a video that shows the light example connected to the panel meter example. Watch it, then make your own!