The IoT Tinkerer's Holiday Project Guide
Whether it's Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Christmas, or Festivus, here's a list of projects that will make any IoT prototyper happy.
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Throwing a wreath over your door and stringing some lights around a bush in your front yard?
Spinning a dreidel and seeing where it lands?
Just plain cooking and eating a turkey?
Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a fan as being lazy on a holiday as the best of them, but if you're the kind of person who loves going above and beyond, then here's a collection of projects you can tackle to make your ancestors and descendants alike proud — not to mention the family you actually share a home with.
For us in the US, Thanksgiving is a time of friends, family, and food (usually prioritized in the reverse order). And in the modern day, what do you think of when food comes to mind?
Telling Twitter about it, of course.
As if I needed to show you an example.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen — you can keep a running Twitter tally of your turkey's temperature over time (alliteration for the win).
This is an oldie (dating back to 2013 on Oracle's blog), but it should still work just fine. Former Oracle employee Hinkmond Wong put together a three-part series detailing how to hook up a thermometer to a Raspberry Pi and how to send updates to your Twitter feed.
Part 1 lists the hardware you'll need.
Part 2 goes over connecting your hardware.
Part 3 covers the code.
Enjoy your turkey tweeter!
Hanukkah (With Something for Kwanzaa, Too!)
Moving on from November and into December, here are a couple of projects that will bring the family together. These are both Hannukah-related projects, but with a bit of work, the first one looks like it could be repurposed for Kwanzaa as well!
An Arduino-Based Musical Menorah/Kinara
The first one is a musical menorah that you can make with an Arduino. (Caution, the Instructables site was giving me some issues and wasn't displaying the pictures, but the text is pretty followable).
It's pretty simple in execution — you change the night/light a candle by pressing a button. What's really nifty is that the LEDs are supposed to flicker like flames. And what's even niftier is that the project creator went through the trouble of finding Hanukkah MIDI files and converting them into Arduino tone code, so you get some nice, techy music to go with your project!
Also, take a look at the comments — one of the commenters worked on the code a bit.
And to top it off, while it'll take obviously some tweaking, this project could be applicable to Kwanzaa kinaras as well!
Gimel That Sense HAT and Raspberry Pi
What happens when you lose your dreidel?
Make your own. (And hey, you don't even need clay for this one).
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of... silicon.
This crafty project lets you create a digital dreidel using a Raspberry Pi, a Sense HAT, and a wee bit of Python. Once it's all set up, just give your Pi+Sense HAT a shake. The dreidel will spin and land on one of its four sides — gimel (take the whole pot), hei (take half the pot), shin (put pieces into the pot), and nun (do nothing).
Christmas, Diwali, and Other Festivals of Lights
Whether it's Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any holiday that's a festival of lights, you can't go wrong with a killer light show. And just like with the musical menorah up above, you can go even less wrong by adding some festive music to the mix!
Granted, this project is oriented toward Christmas, but the lessons are applicable to any holiday.
Part 1 covers the hardware you'll need and the basic setup/configuration of your system.
Part 3 tackles the musical portion of your show.
An IoT Festivus for the IoT Rest of Us
Are you less an "organized religion" tinkerer and more a "90s sitcom" tinkerer?
Strap yourselves in, everybody. We're about to bring a Pi to Festivus.
Last year, Scott Harden put up a great tutorial for an IoT-powered Festivus pole.
Harden uses a Raspberry Pi and Python 2/3-compatible code for this project, and like any good Festivus-related material, it looks pretty simple and straightforward.
"What on Earth do you need a Raspberry Pi for with this thing," I hear you asking. Well, Harden wrote a script to check Twitter for mentions of Festivus to incorporate it into his project
Enjoy the Holidays!
Whatever you do (or don't) celebrate, this collection of tinkering tutorials should be able to at least fill part of a weekend. And if you're the type that wants to go all out and make your neighbors super jealous, then this should give you a leg up in a way that they won't be able to compete with.
Inflatable decorations? Yawn.
Icicle lights? Boring.
A full outdoor light show that moves perfectly in sync with dubstep music while you casually tell Alexa to turn on your Christmas tree? Now you're talking.
Happy holidays, everyone!
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