Wifi Robot: A remote control car that can be driven over the internet or with a laptop wirelessly from up to 500m away. It has a live-feed network camera so that it can be driven without line of sight and a horn so that you can honk at people.
A while ago I discovered the Linksys WRT54GL router. It's very hacker-friendly in that it runs Linux and some of the hardware has been reverse engineered. A bunch of alternative firmware versions have been written for this router. The version that this project uses is the customizable Linux firmware Open-WRT. Along with great software for this router, a bunch of hardware hacks are possible. With a cheap, hackable, embedded Linux system at my disposal -- I knew I had to do something cool with it. So the Wifi Robot idea was born.
The goal of this article is to give a high-level overview of the project and provide some implementation details of the software and electronics. It is not meant to be a step-by-step how-to guide, but there should be enough information for someone with motivation and some background knowledge in electronics and software to be able to make their own Wifi Robot. All of the source code is being released under the terms of the GNU GPL v2 , so by all means, use the code, and improve it!
Adding a network camera, router, heavier batteries, extra circuits, and a whole bunch of wires adds a lot of extra weight that the car wasn't designed for. Because of all of the additions, you'll need to find a pretty large RC car. Thrift stores often sell RC vehicles (without remotes!) for $3-5. I have bought a number of cars this way for taking apart. Vehicles in the 1:10 size ratio or bigger are appropriate; you probably don't want to go any smaller. I bought this car for $5 at Value Village.
Whenever my family travels or we’re away from home for any extended period, as I turn to lock and close the front door I always consider how nice it would be to be able to build a WiFi home surveillance system that would immediately alert me if someone has entered my house when there’s nobody there.
This has been a dream of mine for years, but I’ve always avoided the project because of the costs I assumed were involved. However, writing for MakeUseOf often forces me to think a bit outside the box. How would I accomplish a home security system inexpensively or free?
As an automation engineer, I often have to work with machinery or equipment where a central processor needs to read data from a number of distributed sensors. So, for starters I would distribute “sensors” – both wired and wireless web cams – in and around my property. The question still remains, what central processing software could handle all of those webcams and accomplish the “alert” scenario I want? After doing a lot of digging, I finally found a very cool software application called Active Webcam that lets you do just that.
When you first install Active Webcam you’re offered an easy wizard that steps you through setting up your first device.
As you can see even from this first screen – the software has a lot of capabilities. Not only can you capture input from cameras connected directly to your computer, on your home network, or over the Internet – but you can even generate a web page that you could access from anywhere to watch all of your configured cameras.
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