Sunday, September 15, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - Building a $5 Smart Phone Tripod Mount



In a lot of ways, your typical smartphone has merged a lot of gadgets into one small device.

Today my smartphone has replaced to need to have a calculator, digital camera, notebook, among other things.

In a recent upgrade to my smart phone's operating system, I can even now use my phone as a bubble level and tape measure.

One thing that smartphones have been excelling at recently is capturing of high definition video, which means that my old camcorder can now be put out to pasture along with my old Casio graphing calculator.

Recently I got a new toy (which I will post about in the future) and I wanted to try my hand at making an unboxing video that all the cool kids seem to be doing these days and I figured this would be a perfect thing to record with my smartphone.

The gotcha here was that in order to do an unboxing, I really needed to be able to use my 2 hands - meaning I couldn't really hold my smartphone and unbox my new toy at the same time.

Luckily I still had my old tripod from my camcorder - I just needed some way to mount my smartphone to it.

A quick Google search paraded a plethora of mounts for my tripod - all way, way above the price I would be willing to spend for what really is not much different from a smartphone holder you can get for your car (which I could easily get for less than 2 dollars down at my neighborhood dollar store).

After one such trip to my dollar store, I ended up coming home with one of those cheap car phone holders - and an idea.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Web Page Visitor Counter Part 3 - Putting it all Together

The website visitor counter finally comes together

Now that I finished building the software "LEGO" that I needed to do in order to have some way of displaying the number of visitors that I had on my website, the time had finally come to stop pounding away on the keyboard and to work on something that was a wee bit more tangible.

Before I started work on creating my Google Sheets and ThingSpeak applications, I first made a couple of quick purchases on eBay for the various electronic bits that I would need to make my visitor counter a reality.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Web Page Visitor Counter Part 2 - Adding Thingspeak

ThingSpeak main page

In my last post, I stated that I wanted to build an IoT device that would display the number of visitors to this very website.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was finding it a bit difficult to find an easy way to read my visitor count via an API call to the IoT device that I would use to display the visitor count.  After some poking around I figured that I could obtain that data via a combination of Google Sheets reports and a ThingSpeak API application.

In my last post, I focused on the building of the Google Sheets report. This time around I will be focussing on building the ThingSpeak logic to read the Google Sheets report and to create a data pipe that my IoT device can use.

Again, this is going to be more of a post about software than spending quality time in the shop, but trust me, we will be back in the shop soon enough.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Web Page Visitor Counter Part 1 - Using Google Sheets

Counting the Page views

Buoyed with my recent success with my IoT Weather Station, I figured that I should try and up my game, so to speak, and try something a bit more challenging in the IoT arena.

Since I am always curious about what the traffic is on this very site that you are visiting now, I figured that some sort of device that would monitor the pageviews on the site and display the current view count would be a perfect next project on my IoT journey.

Doing some research, I found that it was fairly easy to display view counts for certain sites like YouTube or Instructables.com since those particular sites offer custom API (Application Programming Interface) services that make obtaining that data a relatively simple matter of one or 2 lines of software code on your IoT device.

While on the surface it did seem that making a device to display the page view counts of the website, I quickly discovered that while it is pretty easy to use API calls for those web sites, there are no API's out there that will work for ANY website. 

So clearly I needed to find a way to have my IoT device talk to my website in order to tell me how many visitors.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Quick Tip - Making Wood Corners Look Seamless

A nice tight corner - or is it?

When trying to build something that is intended to be "nice" - be it a piece of furniture, or a potential heirloom piece, I try to take as much care as possible when I am building them, making sure that each cut is exact, and every part fits together as tightly as possible.

In spite of my diligence, I do seem to have a bit of a problem when it comes to cutting 45-degree corners.