Shiny Pebbles

Author: Richard Milewski

Impish iPhone Problem Solved

Electric Imp

I have long struggled without success trying to tether my Electric Imp IOT projects to my iPhone when I needed a net connection in the field. A recent chat with an Applications Guru at Electric Imp revealed the cause of the problem and a simple solution.

What Apple doesn’t tell you is that they use a private (i.e. secret) API to make that connection happen. The hotspot isn’t discoverable by most WiFi equipped devices unless you have the Personal Hotspot settings page open.

There are two solutions to the problem. You can either dig deep into the Settings on the iPhone, or you can make the Personal Hotspot discoverable from the control center. The control center solution is by far the quicker of the two.

Open the control center
by swiping down from
the upper right corner
of the screen.
Then press on the block in
the upper left containing
the green cellular data button.


Make the hotspot
discoverable by
tapping on the
personal hotspot
button in the lower right.


That whole process is quick enough that you can do it after you’ve blinked-up the Imp and your IOT device will connect to the hotspot before the blink-up timeout.

Raspberry Pi Digital Signage

Digital signs are everywhere. You see them in airports, malls, department stores and even street corners. Most of them are controlled by expensive proprietary software.

Friends of mine at Mozilla wrote the Corsica Digital Sign Server that they use to drive dozens of screens at Mozilla offices around the world.  It’s an elegantly simple design.  The individual screens just run the Firefox browser and the Corsica server provides central control with content on each screen customized for the local audience and language.

The Corsica server will run on almost any computer, even a RaspberryPi, and like all Mozilla software it’s free and open source.

The bad news used to be that when you asked the guys a Mozilla about Corsica documentation, they said “Just read the source code”.   That doesn’t help those of us who are not Javascript Ninjas.

I fixed that problem with an article on Instructables.com that shows how to set up Corsica on a RaspberryPI.   It’s written for absolute beginners, now anyone can have a digital signage system with dozens of screens running on a server that costs less than $50.  RaspberryPis can run Firefox on each of the display screens as well.  I doubt there’s a lower cost digital signage system available anywhere.

$35 IoT-Enabled Weather Station for K12 Classrooms

My latest obsession is a project for K12 science education.  It’s an Internet-of-Things enabled weather station that can be built for less than $35 if you have access to a 3D printer.  Check out the progress of the project on the WxImp page. All of the code is released under a Mozilla Public License and the .stl files to print the mechanical parts yourself on nearly any 3d printer are released under a Creative Commons license. Stay Tuned!

3/16/18 Update:  Don’t try to build this yet.  There’s a problem with the housing design.  See the road map for details.

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