I got in the car in order to leave for work. I had my laptop in its bag and my giant coffee mug. I opened the driver side door to throw them in, then went around, got in the car and drove to the office.
As I was driving, I noticed my phone wasn’t in my pocket and I couldn’t see it. However, thanks to the magic of Apple Watch I could see that it was in range. So I dropped it and it’s under the seat or something.
On the first stoplight I used the nifty “make iPhone ping” feature from the watch. I could hear it, but faintly. So maybe it’s under the rug or something? I couldn’t find it. Second and third stoplights were the same. So I decided to wait until I park at work.
When I parked, I opened the door so I can better crawl under the seats. Ping – and now I could hear it loud and clear. What the hell?
And there it was:
I bought the case with the following criteria in mind:
rubbery (not hard)
protects the front of the phone
I never added “good car paint grip” to the list. Got lucky.
In case you care or plan on letting your phone air out while you drive down the highway, this is the case (Amazon) that saved me from re-purchasing a $750+tax brand new phone.
The remote on one of my garage doors stopped working. Coincidentally, right around that time Trung mentioned the ESP8266, a very cheap (around $3) Chinese chip with built-in WiFi and a bunch of GPIO. Also, there’s a project called NodeMCU around this chip, which puts a Lua interpreter on it.
What does this all mean? That with very little investment and some time, I can create a small circuit that connects to the motor of my garage door so I can control it from my iPhone.
Long story short, I went through several different versions of boards with the chip. I started with the super cheap but barebones ESP-01 but using that required too many extra things (USB-Serial adapter, 3.3 V power supply, more wiring). I finally settled on the official NodeMCU devkit, which is extremely nice. I hadn’t done any electronics in many years, but that went well.
I ended up writing a general purpose web server for NodeMCU: the Open Source and creatively named nodemcu-httpserver. The garage door opener software is just a small web application running off the chip itself. It’s one of the demos I packaged with the server.
Without further ado, the video:
The nodemcu-httpserver project I started has gotten some traction. The server, while limited (the chip has very little memory), works relatively well. It’s pretty cool to see that other people are using the software and starting to contribute. And it’s making rounds: