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2012/06/22

Everything Is Preceeding As Planned. Excellent! (Webcam hack)

I was just given this swing-arm desk lamp/magnifying glass.

You might ask yourself, "Why does Dave need a desk lamp/magnifying glass?"

In all honesty, I don't. Part of the requirements of this gift is that I return the magnifying glass when done.

What I need is the long arm.

What I want to do is replace the lamp part with a webcam, so I can move it around, set it up in a good angle if I'm doing a Google+ Hangout, or set up software to take a shot every few minutes when I'm doing a project, so I might blog it or make it an Instructable or whatever. (If I could do it over again, I'd blog the heck out of rewiring my Tele.)

I was inspired by this Instructable (linked from this Lifehacker post) but I'm thinking I have to do something better with the mount than a ball of Sugru (not that Sugru isn't magic). Thing is, I'm not sure what. A big part of it will have to rely on what sort of webcam I get to stick on the end of this. I have two cameras on eBay I'm following, but I don't know if I'll go for one or the other.

In other hacking news, I have an Easy button. I now need two things to create my one-button keyboard to handle my Unifying-vs-KVM issue: a Teensy microcontroller and the knowledge of how to send a Scroll Lock character in Arduino. One of those is only $16 away. The other? Dunno.

In barely-related hacking news, I've recently found a great thing. Ever heard of X10 home automation modules? At the most atomic, they're boxes you can plug a thing into and turn it on and off by your whim, being either via computer or via a remote. Their problem, by my experience, was that they talk over power, and this meant that you had to segment your stuff all over. I never got it working to the point I was happy with it. Imagine the same sort of thing, communicating over your WiFi network. Belkin calls it WeMo. I call it magic. There's also a motion-sensor module. Even better, they are connected to the magic of IFTTT, which makes scripting things so easy! Setting triggers on motion to do things like tweet or log to Evernote or even turn on a light with WeMo are such a good idea. I don't know if I can get conditionals, like if (motion && time > 6 && time < 23 ) { turn_on( light ) } , but I'd like to give that a try.

But, ultimately, I'm more interested in shades of gray than black and white. Or rather, variations of brightness over on and off. I have just found that there are dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs and dimmer switches for use with compact fluorescents. Now, if I could replace/augment the actual switch in that with a Netduino or something, I could make a lamp that's entirely controllable online. CF dimmer switches are $20, so I'd roll up my lamp first, have the non-networked dimmer implementation going, then work on tearing apart a second dimmer switch to Arduino-connect it. But that strikes me as the future.