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AWS... I-O-Tea

We have seemingly succeeded in stumbling through over 30 little experiments, with a couple of random "projects" to boot. Yet the holy grail of creating a paranoid android that forces Harrison Ford to become uncharacteristically philosophical about what it means to not(?!) be a replicant, seems even more far-fetched now than the plot of a typical Uwe Boll film.

But it hasn't all been in vain.

Because where we have landed is where most other avid tinkerers of microprocessors and electronics eventually end up... a strange (yet vibrant) place where the urge to interconnect sensors and devices far outweighs the actual need. Where it is essential to collect as much arbitrary sensor readings from around the family home as humanly possible, just in case we need to open them up in Excel at some point in the distant future to show the in-laws.

Welcome to a brand new series about IOT: an eclectic collection of curious posts in which we will attempt to do as much as humanly possible, with as little as humanly possible.  Or more precisely, we will be leaving ESP8266 and ESP32 microcontrollers lying precariously around the house to the utter bemusement of the entire household, and get them (devices, not family members) to communicate with the mothership that is AWS IoT.

1Frozen PiCold? How cold? Take DS18B20 temperature readings using a small army of ESP8266 devices, and dispatch them to AWS IoT Core and store them in DynamoDB.
2Have-ocadoWe will attempt to build a cluster using EEPROMs that binds 2 × ESP32 microprocessors in eternal wedlock - all in the name of monitoring some avocados.  Then, we will deservedly spam ourselves with relentless notifications about node events and failures, using AWS Lambda and Simple Email Service (SES).
3Green, green grass of /homeDo your avocados spontaneously combust? Be prepared, using a flame detector, temperature sensor and piezo buzzer. Connected to AWS IoT using ESP32, and Greengrass on Raspberry Pi.
4Quantitative wheezingOver-zealously collect data from multiple temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, and attempt to use AWS IoT Analytics to make sense of it all.
5LoRa-Wan KenobiA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... we connected an ESP32 running MicroPython to The Things Network LoRaWAN and AWS IoT Core. So ok, it may have actually been April 2019. And the galaxy was most likely the Milkybar Way.
6Soreen seems to be the hardest word Survive a post-apocalyptic landscape without cellular networks. Integrate a U-blox Neo-6 based GPS receiver module with MicroPython on ESP32, and update device coordinates in AWS IoT.
7Ironed curtainsSetup a Raspberry Pi infra-red night-vision camera, and upload the results to AWS S3. To carry out rubbish bin surveillance, of course
820th entry foxAn Ironed Curtains sequel.  Use AWS Rekognition to detect if the animal captured by the Raspberry Pi night-vision camera is of a cat, or a fox. Then, use AWS SES and S3 pre-signed URL to send out a notification.
9Hard graphtUse AWS Elasticsearch Service to store temperature, humidity, pressure and light readings collected by an ESP32. Then use Grafana or Kibana to visualise them.
10Pear Force OneUse AWS IoT Events to monitor the status of Pear Force One. Because Harrison Ford is nowhere to be seen to save the world from certain disaster.



LoRa-Wan Kenobi

In the regurgitated words of Michael BublĂ©: It's a new dawnIt's a new dayIt's a new Star Wars filmFor meAnd I'm (George Lucas, and I'm) feeling good.  Unfortunately for Canadian Mike, the Grammy that year was won by the novelty disco classic with the famous refrain: We love IoT, even in Planet Tatooine*.

*Not true.

Clearly, the Star Wars producers didn't sincerely mean the lastJedi the previous time around.  Return of the Jedi, released during the decade that spearheaded cultural renaissance 2.0 with the mullet and hair-metal, was less economic with the truth.  Either way, we're going to take inspiration from the impressive longevity of the money-spinning space-opera and reboot our franchise with some Jedi mind tricks.  Except this particular flick doesn't require an ever-growing cast of unrecognisable characters, unless ASCII or UTF counts.  In place of an ensemble gathering of Hollywood stars and starlets, we will be assembling together a…

Beam me up, Rosie!

How do you get from A to B?

You can't, as As and Bs are just letters in the alphabet. But if A is your house, and B is a meerkat village at your favourite safari park, you'd probably use a device equipped with GPS.  Not to be confused with UPS, who will deliver you your chosen meerkat through the post. And why on Earth would Rosie Patrol need one? Precisely, it's because she is on Earth that she needs one. Because our planet is rather big. Big enough to get lost in. And we don't want to lose our friendly plastic boxes on wheels. And maybe, eventually when she's clever enough, she'll go and defeat baddies on her own. And return home afterwards for a well deserved Earl Grey tea.

Besides, why wouldn't we want to add another three letter acronym to Rosie Patrol's repertoire?
All superheroes need:One Raspberry Pi 3, running Raspbian OSComputer from which you are connecting to the Raspberry Pi Probably the most important bit: a GPS receiver thingmy. …

Tea minus 30

We're fast approaching Christmas time.  And if robots were to make one simple observation about the human species during the Christmas festivities, it's that they watch a lot of TV.  A LOT.  Often, accompanied by an inappropriate amount of greenhouse gas-producing food.  Stuff you don't normally eat during the remainder of the year - for good reason.

And most so-called shows on TV are boring to robots like Rosie.  After all, why watch a minor subspecies of the human race - celebrities - stumble awkwardly around the dance floor, dressed like a faulty, sparking circuit board?  Such branch of entertainment doesn't require robots to engage any of their proud circuitry.  Their processors remain idle.  Memory under-utilised.

But if robots are to be part of people's homes (and blend in), they need to look at least a little interested in some of this irrational nonsense.  Nobody likes a party pooper.  A killjoy.  And this is where a certain subgenre of TV entertainment co…