Dementia Friendly Media Player, Arduino Powered

Making something to serve a purpose is often a fun thing. Though I haven’t made this, I have a spare Arduino UNO lying around but not a case to put it in. This is something that I have on my list of things to do for that special elderly someone. The more I think about this particular project, the more I want to do it but with a few changes.

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Arduino Controlled Ambient Light Chameleon | Blathering

One of the greatest things about the information age is being able to see the seemingly endless creativity of the world’s makers, programmers and artists. Even cooler is when these different passions and disciplines come together to create something truly fun and exciting. There are countless examples of those and I should probably feature more but this one hit with electric joy on many angles.

Since I am quite the fan of the openSUSE project, anything to do with Chameleons tends to stoke that childlike enthusiasm on a Christmas morning. Since this is not only a Chameleon but one that has LEDs inside controlled with an Arduino turns that enthusiasm up to 11.

This is not a terribly complex project if you have the fairly basic understanding of electronics and 3D printing, this could be accomplished in a day or so, depending on the speed of your 3D printer. Check out the full article on If you own or have access to a 3D printer, none of this is particularly expensive but would give many hours of smiles sitting adjacent your couch, monitor or as a centerpiece on your dining room table.

Click on this for details about this smile:

Parts List

In case you are interested and haven’t quite clicked on that link yet, this is what you will need. There are a few pricy items, like the SK6812 RGBW LEDs, but you can use other cheaper variants. The wires, power switch and push button could be from stock you already have. You might even have the fiber optic cable and craft board. My guess is, if you are strict minimalist, you may not have any of this.

  • Arduino Nano V3.0
  • SK6812 RGBW LEDs (not cheap but you don’t need many)
  • Push Button.
  • Switch to control the power
  • 5V 18650 Lithium Battery Boost Step Up Module Charger.
  • 18650 Rechargeable Battery NCR18650B.
  • 3mm Fiber optic cable.
  • 3M 6mm + 6mm Hexagonal Spacers. 3M Nuts. 3M Screws.
  • Rubber stops.
  • Wires.
  • 3D Printed parts: Two halves of the chameleon. Fiber optic cable Coupling.
  • 2D Cut parts: Interior Chameleon(2mm Acrylic Board). Base Box (3mm MDF Board). Grass (2mm Kraft Foam).

This is a great time in history to be a technology enthusiast. There are so many fun things one can do to express their creativity and passions to spread a little happiness around. We should all make it a priority to spread smiles as much as possible. Life is short, after all.


Blathering | Raspberry Pi to Monitor Air Quality with an Arduino based Thermostat

Arduino Test Board.jpg

I’d like to call myself a tinkerer, but I don’t tinker enough hold that badge. I do like to look at other projects and see what is out there for things to make my life more efficient. My target is to make my home, work for me, to automate every aspect that is feasible that has real value to me that will make life a little more efficient and have a bit better resolution on the control of the world around me. One area that needs some work is the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) controls. I have been pondering this for a while and I think I have a good project plan to make my house work for me just a little bit better.

This is just a blathering of a project to come. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, think that this is ridiculous and a waste of time, fire those off too. I’m open. It may not change my mind but it is always worth listening to a dissenting opinion.

Project Goal

I want a home thermostat and environmental control system that is under my control and doesn’t babble off to a cloud someplace. I want it to be intelligent enough to manage the room temperatures, know if a window is open in the house, adjust the dampers in my ducting to cycle air between the floors differently depending on the time of year. I want it to be aware of the current outdoor weather as well.

Why Weather Aware?

Weather Station.jpgI want the system to know how humid it is inside and outside of the house. Much of the summer in Michigan, I don’t need to have the air conditioning on, but I do want to keep the humidity down inside of the house. I also prefer my windows open to closed, so it would be nice if I could have my thermostat would know if windows are open. There is no reason to dehumidify the house when my windows are open.

Targeted Features

The Arduino portion can handle a lot of the functions I am targeting but there is another angle, I am interested in knowing what the pollution is inside the house. I have only dug into this a little bit but the Enviro Raspberry Pi Accessory is able to measure indoor air quality, humidity, pressure, light and noise levels. This could even tell me how effective my filter is too and find the most cost effective filter that does the job. It would allow me to run a Design of Experiments to test and maximize the cleanliness of the air in my home. I don’t know the extent of the on board air quality sensor but it could really do the job.

The Plan

Thermostat.jpgConfigure and build the Arduino thermostat, that is robust, reliable and extensible to control the HVAC system. Once I can do that reliably, I’ll add more sensors to it, window sensor, temperature sensors of different rooms, duct pressure at the blower, then I can start to add automated dampers in the system to control temperature leveling in the house more precisely. Also, to shunt airflow to unused rooms in the house as well during extreme weather conditions. I want to have all the data, inputs, outputs, status and so forth to be accessible on my network so that at any point in time from any computer terminal, I can look at my “environmental system” status. Of course, it will somehow be running openSUSE Linux, someplace. Either a Raspberry Pi running openSUSE or better yet, something x86 based. It’ll be incredibly, joyously nerdy.

Next Steps

For now, I am still gathering information, parts lists and so forth. The first step in this chain will be to replace the thermostat with an Arduino Smart Thermostat that will have better functionality. Once that is working and I have a good understanding of how to manipulate it. I will start to add sensors to it. From there, I’ll figure out my greatest need to further improve efficiency and add the functionality needed.


Enviro Raspberry Pi Accessory to Monitor Air Quality at

Arduino Smart Thermostat equipment dampers and louvers