Build your own Smart TV with the help of a Raspberry Pi Zero device

Are you bored with your ordinary TV? Do you want to expand your media experience to a whole new level? Yet you are limited with the budget? Like me? Well, this would be the perfect Smart TV solution!

Disclaimer: This tutorial might not be complete and can contain differences. Google Cloud Console is continuously changing. However, the underlying configuration should be quite the same.

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Screenshot by Author

For this article, we will be installing OSMC as the media operating system. Let’s get started!

Download the Disk Image

Go to the OSMC website and click on the Download icon. Then click on the Rasberry Pi button. You’ll be scrolled to a section where you can select Disk Images. The version I am using is this from this link). …


Fetch data from Arduino (Uno) over USB serial communication and plot them using Matplotlib

Arduinos are quite famous for their versatility. However, when it comes to analytical work Python has the lead by a long shot. Therefore, it would be a heavenly match to have data from Arduino in your python environment.

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Photo by Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

There are many perks of fetching your data into your computer from a low resource device.

  • Collecting environmental data continuously to a long term storage media
  • Obtaining live plots for time series regression analysis
  • Integration with dashboards for data representation and control
  • Sending over control signals to Arduino (eg: Robotic arm, robotic tools such as cutting tools)

Getting Started

In order to enable serial communication for your python environment, you need to have the Pyserial library. Let’s have a look at a very simple example. …


Tutorial on getting started with programming an ESP32 development board using MicroPython

Python is one of the most popular languages of the decade. It is very popular among researchers and machine learning enthusiasts. It has developed to the point that we can now program microcontrollers using python language. MicroPython in fact intends to bridge the knowledge gap between hardware programmers and software programmers.

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Image from Wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MicroPython)

In this article, we will discuss how we can setup MicroPython in an ESP32 development board.

Flashing the ESP32

Every time, we program some microcontroller we flash the firmware together with the program code. This is typical as most of the programs written for microcontrollers are compiled rather than interpreted. However, in MicroPython we burn the firmware first, followed by the transfer of program code. …


Create your own DNS sinkhole to block ads on all your devices at home

Advertising has become so prominent that most of us see too many ads. As they say “If you’re not paying for something, you probably are the product”. So all that free services care is the amount of advertising you expose yourself for them to show ads and make income. It is not a very bad thing, yet us geeks can have a work-around, so why not give it a try!

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

In this article, I will explain in detail how to set up Pi-hole, which is a DNS sinkhole, that will intercept your name queries and block that are seemingly undesired or considered as advertising. …


Life of 2020 for an ordinary self-centred man

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Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash

Before 2020

Early to bed, early to rise
Early to work to punch on time

Kids to school, missus cooks all
In this stressful pool, feel like a tool

Fights on roads, days and nights
Honks with others, bonks with words

Late home drowsy, kids be sleepy
Missus be lovely, yet my mood’s gloomy

Weekends hopeful, are so cheerful
I am so grateful, Mondays aren’t wrathful

Routines monotonic
Are gone with sputnik

There comes the pandemic
Break our lives like a ceramic

After 2020

Early to nothing, late to nothing
Not good everything, yet the silver lining

Kids stay home, misses re-born
We all helping, each others…


Briefing from my tech talk to students at the University of Moratuwa (CSE), Sri Lanka

What are Home Automations and The Protocols Used

Though there are numerous protocols used by proprietary developers like Google, Amazon and Philips in this article we will be talking about the use of MQTT in home automation. This is because MQTT is a reliable open source message brokering framework for IoT communications.

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MQTT.ORG

Few Tips about MQTT

  • Not a message queueing framework, but rather a message brokering mechanism. Queuing happens in order to support the process of brokering, hence the term telemetry.
  • IBM scientists invented the protocol in 1999 to monitor an oil pipeline that runs across a desert.
  • Uses open standard, hence easy licensing!


Message Queueing Telemetry Transport and its applications in IoT

Ever wonder how thousands of IoT devices talk to each other? Well, you are about to know!. Not only that, we will see how we could use MQTT for simple automation tasks as we go along this article.

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Photo by Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

I’ll tell why I put the above image at the end of the article.

MQTT Origins and Intro

MQTT (Message Queueing Telemetry Transport) is an application layer protocol for message brokering. Although the word queueing is within the name, the main functionality is being a broker for message passing. IBM scientists invented the protocol in 1999 to monitor an oil pipeline that runs across a desert.

The main goal of the protocol was to be able to communicate under limited resources with less computational overheads. …


How IoT Devices are Discovered for Communication

IoT is a booming area of study. Although it is not very straight forward, your Phillips Hue, Chromecast, Personal Cloud device, Smart-TV and all that is connected to your router are IoT variants. There is a minimum of 10 IoT devices in a modern home (including your phones, laptops, wearables, etc).

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Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash

The normal usage flow is you pair the items with your phone via Bluetooth. Everything else is “magic” or is it? Well, this is what really happens.

Preliminary steps in connecting a new device to your WiFi

  1. You plug/power up the device and search for it using your mobile app (say Apple watch app or Galaxy Wearables app)
  2. The app will search for the Beacons that transmit some information that matches the databases in the cloud (Samsung or Apple). If the beacons are valid (authentic product) the apps will pair with the items. Usually you are either asked to press an OK button in your Watch (Or something else) or to enter a code so that pairing can begin. This is how unwanted pairings are avoided. This happens via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beaconing. …


What to do, how to do and what not to do in video conferencing

This article comes to life after being involved in heavy zoom/google video conferencing for different purposes. This was a subject that we quite usually talk among peers during the times we started working from home via zoom communication. Before a meeting, there shall be several key points to be considered.

  1. When to have the meeting? (day, date and time)
  2. What platform to be used?
  3. Who will be participating?
  4. Mode of communication. Presentation, voice talk, group chat, etc.

These factors must be considered for an effective meeting with the best compliance from all the participants. This is because, given the “working from home” situation there could be parents, elders, pets, etc. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid distractions given the personal circumstances one might be dealing. …


Making a network accessible media server using open-source Kodi media server

Passing the lockdowns we never have experienced before, this year is a bumpy ride. Having said that, one way many of us passed time during total lockdowns was watching media (TV shows, movies, etc) over streaming services (Netflix, AppleTV, etc). Some of you may have used your own storage devices to share media among friends to cope with the lonely times.

Disclaimer: I by no means encourage readers to commit copyright infringements. Kodi is an open-source project for media serving and does not stand by copyright crimes. Sourcing media needs to be done legally! …

About

Anuradha Wickramarachchi

Blogger | Traveler | Programmer PhD Scholar

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