Google Street View + Treadmill (made easy)

I've seen quite a few posts lately around hooking Google Street View up to exercise equipment of some sort.  Most tend to use sensors to detect a passing rotation.  I love the idea, but not enough to spend the time or money necessary to make it a reality.  So I improvised.

What you need:

  • Treadmill
  • TV, projector, or mounted display (maybe next time)
  • a Stealth Switch (actually, any momentary button would work....middle button on a mouse for instance)
  • a long usb cable (probably)
  • Autohotkey
  • Google Street View

(more after the break)


Project DeepThought ($320 CarPC)

Backstory - 

Five years ago I had a 2003 Chevy Cavalier, and I was bound and determined to stuff a PC in it.  The first incarnation was beautiful in function, not in form.  I had a 7" in-dash motorized touchscreen LCD (that didn't quite fit in the console) and a Compaq E-42 mini PC (now being used in Project Musicbox) stuffed in the glove compartment (the door didn't shut, so the door had to go).  It worked beautifully, but eventually the LCD went out and the PC was never nearly powerful enough to do what I wanted it to.  It was around that time that we got a new car, and after the damage I did to the cavalier it took quite a bit of convincing for the wife to let me do it again.  The rules for the 2nd installation were simple:

1) Has to look like it belongs in the car.
2) Has to be quickly removable
3) Has to not look 'geeky'

So by the time I got around to this project my wife and I brought our little bundle of joy into the world.  With that, I had to add a forth condition to the list.

4) Cheap!!!

I easily spent over $600 on my last CarPC endeavor and now I had to try to cram function, form, and financial responsibility into an '02 Acura RSX

The Solution:

A quickly removable, simply controlled, fewest cords as possible CarPC (otherwise known as DeepThought).  This knob controlled system can play video, music, and launch external programs (such as GPS, SNES emulator, internet browser, etc).

(more after the break)


How to get free SMS (on your work restricted phone)

Backstory - I've had a work phone for years now, to the point where I don't have a personal cell.  The company has an unlimited voice and data plan, but (smartly) no sms messaging.  This comes at great frustration to my friends in that they wonder why I'm never privy to the plans they've already made.  To which my response is constantly "I can't get texts!".

So then Google Voice goes public, and now all is right with the world.

What you need 

-A cellphone with email capabilities (IMAP or POP3)
-A Google Voice account (and gmail address)

What you do 

-Sign up for a Google Voice account and get your new phone number
-Enter your contacts' phone numbers in Google Voice
-Goto Google Voice Settings -> Voice Settings -> Voicemail & Texts
- Check Text Forwarding
-Setup your gmail account on your mobile phone (IMAP works best because it's instant delivery)
-Send a text to all of your friends from the Google Voice account saying something like "It's me, save this number in your phone as [Name]Text."
-When they respond it will forward to your gmail account

Now you have a phone number dedicated to just text messaging which will instantly forward to your gmail account and thus, to your phone.  When you receive the text you can just reply to the email and it will automatically forward to their phone as SMS.


Project MusicBox - Portable, hidden, and wireless sound system

Update-V2 has been posted here: http://wolfebaine.blogspot.com/2011/08/musicbox-v2.html

Backstory - I'm a recent homeowner and the one of the things I was most looking forward to in owning a house was, of course, geeking it out.  After getting everything pretty well in order (you'll see in some other posts) I turned my attention to the back deck and yard.  I have a substantial music collection and the idea of controllable music from every room in the house and even outside the house is the long term goal.  What I wanted was a permanent (or at least semi-permanent) outdoor PC that was running wireless and had access to my server where my music was stored.  Then I wanted to control that system with some kind of handheld (I'm using a Nokia N700, but any cell phone with wireless would work).  Under just those terms I would've had this project done in an hour.  There'd be wires everywhere and some unsightly speaker system nailed to the siding.   However, with the house came a wife.  And the wife insists (and rightly so) that whatever I create that is in or around the house must be ascetically pleasing.  Were it not for that direction, I probably never would've came up with this idea.  So, thanks honey!
(more after the break)


Turn your numeric keypad into a mouse/full keyboard

Backstory - The touchscreen in my CarPC died (more on that later).  As such, I needed a quick replacement for control and a mouse was not a good option for the car.  I had a spare USB keypad and used AutoHotkey to emulate a mouse (when the numlock's off) and a cellphone-type keyboard (when the numlock's on).  This works fine on a standard keyboard as well (I used the mouse portion for my HTPC)

(more after the break)


Here we go...

I've decided to do this for a couple of reasons.

  1. I have had/will have alot of fun doing each of these things and figure someone else in the world might also
  2. Great place to keep track of my many many projects (if I can stick to updating this consistently)
  3. Show my daughter someday why her daddy spent the better part of her childhood in a basement with a soldering iron
  4. Help! Please if see I'm doing something wrong or can suggest a better method, don't hesitate to contact me!
So, let's get started. Here are a few of the projects I will be posting (retroactively). It might help motivate me a little more to do some 'how-to's' of the work I've already done. On the hit list:

  • Bluetooth Doorbell (customizable doorbell based on bluetooth MAC address)
  • $320 carpc
  • Headless outdoor jukebox (controlled by tablet, phone, anything with wifi)
  • KitchenPC (laptop running linux built in a picture frame for keyboardless operation)
  • Original XBOX softmod
  • Numpad Keyboard/Mouse (script that turns just the numpad into a keyboard/mouse combo)
...let the fun begin