New Year, new projects out of old tech.

Hello Internet!

Sorry it’s been an awful long time since I’ve posted anything! To be honest, with the holiday season now past us, and my wife and I just settling down after moving into our new apartment, I haven’t had a ton of time for any new projects. Now that we’re in 2016 though, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to start being more active on my blog, and start working on more projects!

At the same time, my wife said that we need to get a head start on spring cleaning, which means sifting through my pile of technology junk to start recycling things we don’t need anymore (fun fun, I know)….

This has been a lot more fun this year though, because I’ve been using this opportunity to scout around for a few projects that incorporate used (in some cases obsolete) tech that I can make new again! Let’s get down to it!

The first project that I want to get started on is a digital picture frame that I’m making out of a recycled laptop screen. The laptop in question was an old laptop from my college days that has since died and is now resting in “piece” (pun intended) at the local Good Will “Good Bytes” store.

internet picture-frame

Before taking most of it to the Good Bytes store, I managed to take the screen out of it, and bought a compatible LCD controller board to basically convert it into a regular ole monitor!

Once the controller comes in the mail (I ordered it from China, and the expected delivery date isn’t for a few weeks) I plan on hooking up an additional raspberry pi (man I love those things), and trying to fit it into a picture frame. After that, I have to put some code on that will set up a slideshow and connect to my Flickr to grab all of my pictures! Special thanks to instructable user Beaconsfield for uploading an awesome instructable that I got this idea from! You can find their instructable here.

Next up on my list of projects for the new year is another Raspberry Pi project using an old clock I have that doesn’t work anymore. Using a Raspberry Pi controlling some servos, and the Node.js package Node-Red to drive this project, I’m recreating the awesome magic clock that the Weasley family had in the Harry Potter books and movies!

weasley clock

The whole idea is I have a free GPS app on my phone, OwnTracks, that sends my location (via MQTT) to a broker hosted on This site offers free MQTT hosting if you’re running less than 10 connections simultaneously (which I will be), so it’s a perfect choice! Anyways, OwnTracks then takes my location and compares it to a list of waypoints I’ve set up for things I normally go to in a given day (home, work, school, etc.). When I enter within radius of one of those waypoints, then cloudMQTT sends a message to my Raspberry Pi on Node-Red, and then my Pi activates a servo which controls a clock hand to show where I am!

That’s all for now, I’ll keep scouting around for new project ideas. If you have any awesome project ideas you either want me to do, or want to do your self, leave a comment on this post below!

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