INSTEON 75790WH Wireless Security IP Camera with Pan, Tilt and Night VisionA while back, I wrote an article showing you how to create your own C# app for controlling the FOSCAM Wireless IP Camera. In that project, I showed you how to access individual images from your camera using the “snapshot.cgi” URL. Basically, that app would call the IP camera and retrieve 1 frame at a time which would simulate the appearance of streaming video. However, that app wasn’t really utilizing the streaming video capabilities that the camera had to offer which was somewhat noticeable in the video playback. Since writing that article, I have received hundreds of emails asking if I would show how to use the “videostream.cgi” URL instead. At one point I had built an app that does just that, but seemed to have lost the project somewhere along the way. Unfortunately, I have not had a lot of extra time to revisit this app until. The only reason I’m getting the chance / making the time to revisit the app now is because I have recently been conducting a major overhaul of my home automation & security system which involves this app.

One of the things I’ve done during that process is replace all of my FOSCAM IP Cameras with the INSTEON 75790WH wireless security IP cameras which are available on Amazon currently for around $65.00. They are pretty much the same exact cameras. Just like the FOSCAM IP cameras, the INSTEON cameras also include pan, tilt, & night vision. But, with many parts of my home automation system already being INSTEON, I chose to also use the INSTEON cameras as well. Since the FOSCAM and INSTEON cameras are basically the same, the C# IP camera controller app I introduced you to in the previous article will work for both. Plus, the updated version of the app I’m going to show you here also works with both cameras. After playing around with both cameras, the only real reason I would suggest going with the INSTEON version over the FOSCAM version is that INSTEON’s mobile app already supports the INSTEON camera natively. But, if you’re a geek like me and decide to roll your own software, you will be pleased with either camera.

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Cronus Controller AdapterA while back I wrote an article about a C# wrapper I wrote for the Cronus video game controller adapter. For those of you that aren’t familiar with this adapter, it’s basically a USB dongle that attaches to your Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, or computer that allows you to use any USB gaming controller you want, even if the controller isn’t made for the console you are wanting to use it on. For example, this little device will allow you to use your Xbox 360 controller on your PlayStation 4 if you wanted. Another cool thing about this device is that you can automate game play from your computer. Click here to checkout how I automated Guitar Hero from my laptop using this device. If you don’t have a Cronus controller adapter, you can find them on Amazon for around $50.

The wrapper that I shared in the first article was only capable of connecting to your Xbox (or other console if you made the necessary changes) and could send commands to the console. Since posting that article, I have received numerous emails from people asking if I could upgrade the wrapper & example app to also be capable of reading the state of the controller. Well, I’m glad to say that I finally took the time to do that. You can now use my Cronus C# API wrapper to capture the state of each button on the controller. For example, whenever you press the “A” button, your app can now detect that button press and act on it if necessary. In the example app I’m including at the bottom of this article, each button pressed on the controller is indicated on the Windows form. I have also setup the example app to forward all button presses to the console. This will allow you to play your games while the controller is connected to the Cronus all while capturing the button presses in real-time on your computer.

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Alrighty. As promised, I have created and uploaded a video to YouTube showing my Google Glass app controlling my home automation system. In this video, I demonstrate how I can turn my Christmas tree on & off using voice commands in Google Glass. As soon as I get the code to a shareable state, I’ll post it for all of you to download. I’ll also post the actual compiled app itself in case you’d like to try it for yourself without having to recompile the code.


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Python LogoA couple of weeks ago, I began a series of articles showing you how to do home automation easily and relatively cheap. In those articles (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), I introduced you to the X10 home automation products such as the screw-in lamp module, appliance module, wall switch, and controlled wall outlet. I also showed you how to use your GE Simon XT home security system with your X10 home automation network. In part 4 of the home automation articles, I introduced you to the Insteon Hub which can be used to control all of your X10 modules using your cellphone, tablet, and computer. Today, as promised, I will now show you some code that you can use to control your devices from your own software. This code can easily be ported to Java, C#, or any other language of your choice. But, for simplicity purposes I will be providing you the code written in Python. Plus, this code can be used with the other automation applications I have been showing lately and will be showing in the near future. So, let’s begin.

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Python LogoAny internet marketer or SEO guru will tell you that content is a major key to success when running a website. The better the content is, the better your website will be. However, as many website owners will tell you, it is sometimes difficult to come up with good quality content for your website, especially for blogs. For those days that, for whatever reason, you just can’t seem to come up with some good content for your blog, I have found that those days are especially good for revisiting previous content. Not only do I think it’s a good idea to revisit past content, but I also think it’s a great opportunity to (re-)inform your visitors about past content just in case they might have missed something. To do that in a nice clean way, I like to use something called the “periodic roundup”. Roundups are nothing more than an article / post that contains links to previous posts. You can create roundups for weekly, monthly, yearly, or any other time frame you want. It’s extremely simple to do and doesn’t take more than just a couple of minutes to create. Since roundups are so simple to do, they are ideal for automating as well.

In this article I will show you how to automate roundup creation for WordPress powered websites using Python and cron. I will provide you with code that will check your blog for any articles posted within the previous month and will generate a new post with links to each of those articles. I have made sure to add checks in the code to prevent from linking to previous weekly or monthly roundups as readers would see this and know right away that you probably either automated the roundups or that you were just lazy or incompetent. The code can be easily modified to support other time frames as well such as weekly and yearly. If you are hosting your website on Windows, you can use the built-in Task Scheduler to schedule when your Python script will run instead of using cron as explained in this article. Basically, you just need a way to run the Python script on auto-pilot on the first day of every month (week or year depending on the time frame you choose). You can also run the app manually if you don’t have a way to automate when it runs on the server. Let’s get started.

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