Home/ Blog/Hackathon

Archive for the ‘Hackathon’ Category

Digi Employee Hackathon: Cloudy with a Chance of Hacks

Posted on:

It’s been a while but we’re back with another Digi hackathon! Digi Chief Innovator, Rob Faludi, traveled down to our Rochester office to see what projects our Device Cloud developers could bring to life. The teams explored ways to expand Device Cloud’s capabilities, get hands-on with XBee connected sensors, and have fun doin’ it! Here’s a quick look at the projects created.

Team PB&J: Working with XBee Connected Sensors
For the parents out there, you might want to listen up. This project transformed a motion sensor into a complete system capable of tracking childrens’ mischievous late evening/early morning adventures. The infrared (IR) sensor detects distance and is placed in such a way that if a child gets up and out of bed at night, the parents can be alerted and take proper action.

Untitled design (2)
The IR sensor was installed on the child’s bedroom doorway so it can determine if the child leaves the room. To enable wireless connectivity, the sensor is connected to an XBee module and connects to Digi Device Cloud through an XBee Gateway. Within Device Cloud, the team configured a data condition alarm which fires when movement is detected. Once the alarm fires based on the set data point, an SMS is sent to the parents’ mobile device and the necessary actions follow.

Team Lizard: Device Cloud Improvements
In this post we’ll only skim the surface of the enhancements the team made to the Digi Device Cloud platform. The primary change they made to Device Cloud was how the platform handles monitors. Monitors are a way for Device Cloud customers to be notified when events or changes occur on Device Cloud. This could be a newly provisioned device, data uploaded to a data stream, changes to device configurations, etc.. These are all considered “events.”

When a server generates an event, the event is saved in Cassandra and forwarded to the Device Cloud server with the customer’s monitor. The event is sent along to a customer’s monitor application.

The team wrote a simple bit of code to enable customer’s to monitor for only truly exceptional events. These changes bring performance improvements to Device Cloud since servers detecting events can filter prior to saving or sending the event through the cluster.

Quiet Hours for alarm notifications is another feature they built into Device Cloud. There are certain use cases when customers want to be made aware of triggered Device Cloud alarms immediately but only at certain hours of the day. The team made a simple addition to the alarms configuration menu allowing customers to easily set their “quiet hours.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 11.55.30 AM

 

In addition to making the Device Cloud platform better, faster, stronger, Team Lizard had time to spare and created an iOS application. The primary focus of the mobile application is to make adding devices into accounts a more streamlined process. With just a smartphone, users can scan a label on the device and it is securely added into the user’s account.

We’ve assembled a few images to give you an idea of what the application would look like:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 8.55.50 AM

Team Bald Monk: ELK Evaluationlogo-elastic
ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) is a collection of open source projects and a comprehensive tool for analyzing and visualizing large amounts of data. It’s a turned into a popular industry solution for log aggregation. Team Bald Monk took the tool for a test drive to explore how it could function within the Digi Device Cloud environment.

The goal of this event was to give everyone an opportunity to work on an idea they’ve had kicking around for a while whether it be an improvement to a Digi product or just gaining experience with a new technology. Hackathons offer valuable time to explore what’s out there and provide inspiration for innovative ideas.

Click here to view our entire archive of Digi Employee Hackathons!

 

Digi Employee Hackathon: Lindon Edition v2

Posted on:

Another Digi employee hackathon has come to a close! Rob paid a visit to our team out in Utah to hold a hackathon with Digi’s development staff. This continues what has become a tradition at Digi over the last couple years.

Each event has led to the creation of a number of product improvements and other fun and whimsical projects. Another important benefit is that it gives everyone a chance to collaborate with those they don’t normally work with on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s a look at the winning project.

AT Command Database
The winners of our recent hackathon created an incredibly useful tool for both developers inside our company and for our customers. The team’s final prototype is a new centralized system for managing XBee, XTend and our other radios’ AT command info across our entire wireless product line. Digi’s wireless products use these AT commands to manage setup, networking, security, sensors, actuators, battery use, diagnostics and many more functions.

There are hundred of useful commands that need to be managed, tested and shared between our products, libraries, software and documentation. In addition, the commands are implemented by our partners in third-party products and tools. Changes, updates and corrections to the commands need to be kept in sync across all these implementations, and absolute accuracy is essential.

IMG_7064

Prior to Team AT-DB’s creation, the process for maintaining up-to-date AT command information involved lots of coordination and double-checking. We also needed a more efficient way to accurately process updates when changes occur, and share these with our partners and customers. Each command has a specific syntax, description, parameters and defaults. Certain commands must be implemented differently for different protocols. Details matter!

Here are the main benefits the group demonstrated with their new prototype:

  • The ability to audit radio descriptors and test firmware updates against a single, authoritative source.
  • Automatic synchronization services for Digi software like XCTU, and also for third-party software development partners.
  • Electronic documentation support functions and enhanced support for automated testing.
  • A user friendly front end interface that can be enhanced as new use cases arise.

Hackathons keep us creative and excited about our work as it’s an opportunity to try out new ideas. Successful prototypes like this one inspire and help implement the innovative systems necessary to making and maintaining Digi’s mission-critical products.

Check out this page to see other projects and ideas developed at past Digi Hackathons.

Digi Employee Hackathon: One Hack to Rule Them All

Posted on:

The hackathon tradition lives on at Digi and this competition may have been the best one yet– we say that every time, don’t we? Anyways, at this most recent hackathon, we had projects that included hardware modifications, data analytics, software design, and UI enhancements.

IMG_0300
 

The challenge to our competing teams was to prototype a useful improvement to a Digi product such as–

  • Changing a hardware design to improve user experience.
  • Designing a software change to Device Cloud or The Social Machine.
  • Improving the design of a configuration tool like XCTU or create a new one.
  • Making a prototype for a brand new hardware, software or service product.
  • Creating some other useful improvement of their choosing.

Hackathons give employees an outlet to work on a project or idea they’ve been kicking around for a while, but haven’t had the time to see through. It’s also a chance for participants to work with others outside of their everyday team. And, we had some nice cash and non-cash prizes. Nacho flavored lip balm may or may not have been included among our ‘nice’ prizes.

Here’s a quick look at what each team built.xbee_gateway_v2 (1)

Pimp My Web UI 
Team Members: Mike Wadsten, Travis Lubbers, and Russel Shurts.

No, Xzibit, did not make an appearance at our hackathon to create a redesigned and responsive web UI for the XBee Gateway. But Mike, Travis, and Russell were all up to the challenge. They took our existing web UI for the XBee Gateway and gave it a bit of a refresh. Mike had done some work a few months ago on an updated design and the team used this as a starting point for their project.

With the team’s UI refresh, users are more easily able to modify the configuration of their XBee Gateway from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone! The new dashboard is pictured to the right.

Team Device Cloud Analytics
Team Members: Chris Popp and Greg Bestland

The goal of this hack is to enhance Device Cloud with the ability for customers (and administrators) to run custom queries over their data right in the Cloud.

In the prototype, a user is able to have some of their data saved in a way that allows queries against their data set as a whole rather than having to retrieve all the raw data or only rollups of a single stream.  By looking at their entire data set, the user can start to answer more complex questions without having to pull all of the data into their own systems. Spark-logo-192x100px

In order to make these advanced queries possible, the team used the Apache Spark engine. Now, they are able to answer questions like “What is the average temperature in Group ‘X’?” or “How often is my tank level below my set threshold?” This opens up a whole window of possibilities for Device Cloud as an analytics engine. These features will be considered for inclusion in a future DeviceCloud release.

Code Name Marco Polo
Team Members: Ryan Bezdicek and Sandy Haapala

Marco Polo is the code name for a replacement to Device Cloud’s current API Explorer. What is the API Explorer? It’s a terrific feature within Device Cloud that gives users the ability to run any web service request. This enhancement code named, Marco Polo, has a number of improvements and new features that make it easier to work with and a collaborative experience between Device Cloud users.
Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 8.39.03 AM

One enhancement is a way for users to save their most frequent calls. This eliminates the need to remember complex command sets and adds quick access to their most frequently used web service calls. Admins also have the ability to add, edit, and remove examples on the fly.  Future enhancements will include being able to share saved examples with other users on the cloud platform, authentication improvements and setup of local of the API Explorer for offline use. The team is looking into incorporating this for a future Device Cloud version.

C’Mon Move it
Team Members: Zach Schneider and Dan Harrison

Team ‘C’Mon Move it!’ had the brilliant idea of improving XBee‘s PWM capabilities by extending them; initially with a serial hack and later within the XBee firmware. Currently the pulse width modulation (analog) output on an XBee is fixed at 15.6 KHz with a 50% duty cycle. For many motors in SCADA applications, this will not do. They typically require more robust PWM capabilities, such as 200-3000 Hz with 20-80% duty cycle.

So Dan and Zach forged on and created a new PWM library for XBee. The library is written in Python and runs on an XBee gateway making clever use of the UART serial output to directly drive motors. The PWM now reaches speeds between 600 Hz and 4 KHz at any duty cycle between 10%-90% in increments of 10%.

To demo this new PWM library they built a linear actuator to control the height of a shelf. Using an H-bridge driver board, they are able to adjust the height of the shelf wirelessly. If direct control of motors interests you, be sure to comment or drop us a line.

Wrap Up
After the teams presented and demoed their projects the judges congregated for what was a difficult decision. It was very tough to pick a winner, any one of the projects would have made a fine champion. After a number of recounts and tiebreakers the judges made their final decision. Team DC Analytics won first place with Pimp My Web UI in an extremely close second!

If any of these hacks are something you would like us to include in future software or firmware releases, let us know in the comments section below!

 

Contact a Digi expert and get started today! Contact Us