Red Light Camera Alerter

I had the chance to play with some new components – namely the Adafruit Monochrome 128×32 OLED display and the Adafruit UP501 66 channel GPS receiver. As I was pondering ideas of what to build, I thought that it would be neat to be alerted when approaching a red light camera.  In my local area (Southern Ontario), there are currently about a hundred or so of these cameras around the GTA.  However, it appears that new legislation may see this number grow much larger.   This is more of a proof of concept project to me than it is useful as, a) I don’t intend on trying to run any red lights, and b) there are only about 1 or 2 of them within the area.   However, it was fun to build and tweak to make it useful.  Read on…


Arduino Temperature / Humidity Sensor

The projects I do tend to fall in one of two buckets – either proof-of-concept (so I can learn new stuff) or items that have some sort of functional use.   The need for this project came about when my wife was prodding me about the humidity in the house and whether our humidifier was doing it’s job correctly.  Most people would just go out and buy a temp / humidity sensor and be done with it.  However, if you have a look around here, you will see that I don’t fit that mold.  Instead, I decided to build an accurate temp / humidity sensor with a Sensiron SHT11 to read the values, a RBBB Arduino kit to process everything and an Adafruit 128×32 OLED to display the results – all wrapped up in… LEGO!   Read on for more…


Adafruit Monochrome 128×32 OLED graphic display

I recently got my hands on the Adafruit Monochrome 128×32 OLED graphic display for my next project.  This is a 128×32 OLED B+W graphics chip and it’s tiny!  Don’t let its size fool you however. Being an OLED display,  text/graphics contrasts well against the black background.  My initial intent for this display was to use it to provide information to you GPS Red Light Camera project.  It’s job would be to provide key information such as; the distance to the next red light camera location, the direction of the vehicle (and possibly direction of the camera later on), speed, # of satellites, as well as Lat and Log.  However, after some dry runs, I found that reading the information was too difficult if it was sunny out.  Of course the obvious holds true that I should not be taking the time to read this sort of info while driving anyhow.  The intent was more of an info display for viewing while stopped etc.   However, the purpose of this write-up is not to discuss the merits of these things, but rather the quality of this display. More info on the project will come soon.


Review – AVAGO – ASMT-LW60 – LED Fibre Optic Strip

I’d say that LEDs have  been one of the fastest spreading new technologies in the last 10 years.   Consider now that most cars are being manufactured with LED lighting for all the turn/marker/brake/DRL lights.  They have even made an impact with home lighting – even though people are being gouged with inflated pricing (IMHO) from places like Home Depot, Rona, Lowes etc..  This will change as LEDs become mainstream… Just wish I had invested in those companies who first got on the bandwagon!

Anyway, I decided to go away from the typical LED strip and try something new.  The Avago ASMT-LW60′s are classified as LED strips, but I am not sure I agree.  They are unique in that they use fibre optics to provide the illumination while a tiny SMD LED is buried inside each end of the light unit.


Review – OPTEK – Warm White LED Strip

Lately, I’ve been toying around with different LED strips for my projects.   I’ve had the chance to use a variety of LED strips (both RGB, and single colour types).  They come in many flavours – water proof, 3m-backed, silcone encased, sealed, non-sealed, exposed etc.   All have their advantages / disadvantages.


Review – Optek LED Strip

After completing my Juke footwell / glove box LED mod, I decided that the footwell LEDs just were not bright enough.   I came across these Optek 3 LED white lights from Newark that have just the right white light and luminosity.  These LED bars are built tough.  The LEDs appear to be set in a hardened liquid plastic.  Wires run in one end and out the other – it seems that these strips were built as a series set of 3x LED bars and cut to order.  I ordered 2 and both were joined together.  Before installing them above the footwell area, I had to do something about the white.   After masking off the LEDs,  I gave them a few coats of Plastidip to make them black.

I am impressed with the end result.  I was after something that would provide nice white light when I am looking for something down in the footwell area during the dark…  They cast a bright wide swath of light to illuminate the entire footwell area.  They also cast enough light to see under the seats as well.

Illumination with the Optek 3x LED Bar:

The original LED illumination:

Nissan Juke – Footwell & Glove Box LED Lightning

Next on the block – adding LEDs to the foot wells and glove box.   (Prev mods: LED Tails and Rear Passenger LED mods)

This mod can be especially useful this time of year up here on the 49th parallel since we are pretty much in darkness @ 5PM during November. All to often I drop something down near my feet and have to go looking for it.  The light that casts from the map lights does not reach the areas down near the front driver/passenger foot wells, so I decided to add a few tiny LEDs to shed some love in the area when needed.  In addition to this, the Juke comes with a MASSIVE glove box and no light.  So, it was natural to throw a small LED strip in there as well.  Both sets of LEDs are hooked up to a custom controller that uses an ATTiny85 and touch sensitive pins to control on/off states (I’m not one to go with status-quo, so the standard on/off switch would not cut it for me).

The switching unit (below) has 2 pairs of pins and 1 switch.  The switch is used to control the rear passenger LED and is discussed here.   Each pin pair make up a galvanic touch sensor that use the conductive abilities of skin to bridge the connection (reads – won’t work with gloves).  Touch them once and the LEDs ramp up (on), touch them again to power them off.  The top pair control the foot well LEDs, the bottom controls the glove box LED.


Nissan Juke – Interior LED Illumination – Rear Passenger Light

I just finished adding LEDs to the tail lights, and now its time to move on to the interior. For those of you who have a Juke, you can sympathize with me on this – the Juke is a great vehicle, but it is lacking in some very basic necessities (e.g. armrest, removable cup holders, and… a rear passenger light!). This has been further compounded by the fact that I have 2 children in child seats that can’t quite do up their own seat belts yet. …and the seat buckles are buried flush with the seats! (NISSAN!) …and I can’t see squat! Here is my solution to the problem:

LED Rear Passenger Light


Nissan Juke – Custom LED Tail Lights

I’m a sucker for not conforming to status quo when it comes to my toys.. This includes my new Nissan (2012) Juke. In this mod, I added a set of LED light strips to the tail lights with a twist – I wanted to also monitor and react to braking to enhance the effect. I decided to go with an ATTiny85 using the Arduino core. It only needed 1 input from the 12V brake power and 1 PWM output to control a MOSFET which in turn powered the LED light strip @ 12V. I built one controller per tail light. Check out the video to see it in action:





Dual LED Desk Light Controller – Arduino

Main Board

I’ve been involved in microcontrollers for some time – but of the LEGO Mindstorms flavour (and BASIC Stamp to a lesser extent). Lately, I’ve jumped on the Arduino bandwagon. I’ve always had the natural nack to fix pretty much anything that has batteries or a plug running out of it.  As the Arduino revolution has picked up dramatically over the past few years, so to has my desire to do DIY projects around the house. At some point in the future, we plan a kitchen reno.  Part of that reno will the addition of under-cabinet LED lighting.    Since that is far off, but I also had the need for better lighting in my office, I figured this would be a great time to proto something for the kitchen upgrade, while making something functional for the office. So, here it is..




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