Pooparray

Title: Pooparray
Video: https://vimeo.com/193088975
Code: https://github.com/sharkwheels/CC_BigishData
Box Files: http://www.projects.nadinelessio.com/CC_BigishData/

Idea:
Make an IoT connected sign that tells you how stinky a bathroom is.

desk

One In Context Scenario

How it Works:
There is a methane sensor hooked up to an Adafruit Feather. The Feather polls the sensor every minute, and then after 5 minutes, takes the highest reading and sends it to AdafruitIO. On the other side of the divide is the Particle Photon. It quietly controls a string of 16 Neopixels that pulse faster or slower depending on the measured methane level it reads from the IO feed.

pooparray_bb
Does this thing actually run for 8 hours?

Yup!

Project Context:
I made this mostly as a humour break, and because I wanted to learn how to make different hardware boards talk to each other via the internet. I also wanted to port some of my existing processes and libraries to different platforms. So this was a bit more of a technical focused exercise for me. That said, there’s something really fun about making a somewhat fancy box that is a shit and crossbones. It riffs off our current weird obsession of IoT notifiers. AKA: Nice looking objects that tell us somewhat readily available things. Plus when you think about the tire fire 2016 has been, this is a box that could have so many notification applications outside of just “sense these poops!” Its The Literal Internet Of Shit.

Challenges:
One thing I ran into a lot on this project was yak shaving. If you are not sure what yak shaving is, this post has a very good breakdown. For starters I had to compile and upload using two different methods. Because Particle can be somewhat closed, and Feather is pretty open. I sifted through a bunch of libraries, and tried different message brokers, because again, the implementation of the APIs was different, and performed differently on each board. Voltage was also a challenge. The Feather’s 1v analog pin really frosts my goat, but on the flip side, it can support a 5v circuit. Whereas the particle has stronger voltage tolerance on its analog pins…It won’t output 5v anywhere. Part way through one of my at home up-time tests, I noticed the sensor would start having a bird and only send 1024. This ended up being a combo of the sensor getting too hot, and the voltage divider not being adjusted for current draw or spikes. I had to fiddle around w/ resistor values, and also figure out a way to put the Feather into Deep Sleep to give the sensor a cool down period every hour. Bonus: Extended battery life. I sometimes really enjoy yak shaving type challenges, IoT is a fiddly space, and part of navigating it, is figuring out a tool chain that is going to work.

Future Iterations? 
Probably ditch the methane sensor and make it more focused around news / twitter hashtags about shitty things…like Drumpf. Or Climate Change…or 2016 in general. Or if sticking w/ methene, find a public source or data sheet for overall methane in the city. Make a swankier sign, maybe out of cedar, with an acrylic inlay. Just something very lifestyle slick, that is still very obviously a shit and crossbones.