Doorbell -> Computer

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MysteryBall
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Doorbell -> Computer

Postby MysteryBall » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:24 pm UTC

xkcd-ians I need advising.

I have a shoddy old doorbell downstairs that I need to repair (dodgy wire), while repairing it I also wish to make it better. I want to make it better by having it also send some sort of signal to a PC on as small a budget as I can muster. The idea is from there I can send out a Tweet, Growl notifications, Notifo, etc. But the problem comes from actually getting it to the PC in the first place.

The doorbell is a standard circuit with 2 AA batteries powering it, switch completes circuit, dinger goes, yadda yadda yadda. How could I make this interface with a PC? My first thought was to take apart an old joystick and make it as small as possible then stick it in the box with the dinger so that the circuit also causes a button press or something., but I'm not sure how well that would work. I don't especially want to be spending out on an Arduino if I can help it.

I'd also rather stick to the power source of 2 AA batteries for the dinger, so if the PC connected to it goes down then it won't take the doorbell with it. Of course this means I can still use USB power to power whatever peripheral I end up with.

Thoughts?

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Zamfir
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Zamfir » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:30 am UTC

Parallel port. A printer cable has input, output and ground cables that can be used basically like a microprocessor. You do need low-level access to the port on the software side, which requires some API dll in windows. There's a wrapper in Python that might be sort-of platform independent.

If you don't have a paralel port you might need a paralel-to-USB convertor, but I am not sure how that would work out on the software side. Paralel ports were brilliant for the stuff you want to do.

gorcee
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby gorcee » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:07 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Parallel port. A printer cable has input, output and ground cables that can be used basically like a microprocessor. You do need low-level access to the port on the software side, which requires some API dll in windows. There's a wrapper in Python that might be sort-of platform independent.

If you don't have a paralel port you might need a paralel-to-USB convertor, but I am not sure how that would work out on the software side. Paralel ports were brilliant for the stuff you want to do.


The easiest way using USB would be to program an EEPROM to be configured as a USB HID device. Way too much work, IMO.

Parallel/serial ports are still the easiest way to do these things. It's really not hard to interface it using the Windows API. You just need to know how the API works.

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Kromix
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Kromix » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:25 pm UTC

get this foot pedal and modify it to fit in the door bell :)

http://www.stealthswitch2.com/what-is-t ... switch-ii/
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farnsworth
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby farnsworth » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:08 pm UTC

You could use an Arduino, which can bypass the computer entirely and send directly to Twitter if you use the Ethernet Shield. The Ethernet Shield is expensive though. Also, you would need to learn the special programming language, but you could do it if you are ambitious. Google "arduino twitter" and you should see plenty of examples of things like what you are trying to build.

(I would personally use a bare microcontroller and C code, but you would need a chip programmer for that.)


EDIT: Never mind; I should have read the original post more carefully.
Last edited by farnsworth on Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:40 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Kromix
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Kromix » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:30 pm UTC

wire the doorbell leads to all rooms in the house, make the door bell ring everywhere :) even in the shower...
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Yakk
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Yakk » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:48 pm UTC

I'd want to electrically decouple the switch system from the computer system myself. Probably because I'm dumb, but still...

So have the light switch drive an electromagnet magnet, which toggles a switch on the computer side of the circuit (which is wired through aforesaid Parallel port).

Reed Switches look like ~2$ each.
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Zamfir
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Zamfir » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:56 am UTC

You can also use solid-state relays for that. Probably even easier.

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farnsworth
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby farnsworth » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:14 am UTC

Or just wire the button right into the parallel port and have the computer make the ding-dong sound.

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Zamfir
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Zamfir » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:09 am UTC

Yes, that's an excellent way of separating the doorbell and computer functions.

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farnsworth
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby farnsworth » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:41 am UTC

I meant to use a plain button. Anyway, I see your point: if the doorbell is vandalized or accidentally connected to 24V in the future, that would be very bad news for the computer. Isolating the two, especially if you value the computer, would be best.

Also, I just realized that the OP excludes Arduinos. I should read more carefully.

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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby mr-mitch » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:07 am UTC

Is RF unfeasible for you?

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scarecrovv
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby scarecrovv » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:45 pm UTC

In your situation, I would take an old keyboard and rip off the keycap and switch for a key nobody uses for anything, like the Pause/Break key (wtf is it for, anyway?). Now set up the two wires that used to go to the key switch to be shorted together when the doorbell is pressed (plenty of good suggestions for that already here). Then configure your computer to launch your doorbell-twitter script whenever the Pause/Break key is pressed.

Disclaimer: I have never tried this before, nor have I ever heard of anybody who has.

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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby gorcee » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:15 am UTC

farnsworth wrote:if the doorbell is vandalized or accidentally connected to 24V in the future, that would be very bad news for the computer.


Seriously, if this ever happens, you have so many bigger problems to contend with than a fried computer. I'm pretty sure no vandal in the history of mankind has ever said, "you know what I can do to cause some havoc? I'm going to re-wire people's doorbells in the middle of the night and hook them up to a 24v source in the off-event that they may have possibly hooked the doorbell up to the parallel port of a desktop computer. That will totally disrupt the neighborhood!"

However, the point, though farfetched, does bring to mind another very real concern: building codes. Wiring is not to be fucked with. If you own your house and try to sell it, and you've got some 24 gauge wire or some such running through the walls to a non-standard outlet terminating in a parallel port, the home inspector is going to punch you in the face.

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farnsworth
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby farnsworth » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:40 am UTC

Where I live, any cable that is less than 35 volts and has the proper fire resistance and current ratings is fine in-wall. Once it gets out of the wall, what you do with it is your business so long as it doesn't connect to a TV antenna. The wire should be fine so long as you use doorbell-rated wire. I suspect that Cue is not in the U.S., so this may not apply.

By vandalism, I mean stuff like punching the doorbell in or ripping it off the wall. It could also be hit by static electricity, which parallel ports do not tolerate well. Static electricity is much more likely.

EDIT: 24V is the standard doorbell voltage where I live. I wasn't implying that vandals are going to go stick a battery onto the doorbell connections.
EDIT AGAIN: Kids sometimes do things like pulling off the doorbells just because they can. I have seen this happen.
Why do I keep messing up these posts?

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Pandorly
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Pandorly » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:29 am UTC

I'm just popping in to mention how unbelievably manly this thread is in spite of it being about doorbells. Also, I've never heard of this doorbell-assault phenomenon but it sounds very upsetting.

The link is a really cool idea, can the OP let us know how he manages it?
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Zamfir
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Zamfir » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:47 am UTC

Pandorly wrote:manly

Huh?

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Pandorly
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Pandorly » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:08 am UTC

While most girls know at least how to switch a computer on and some are actually relatively competent with technology at large, I have never ever heard a female talking about their houses' wiring. Also punching a doorbell, it doesn't get much more macho than that.
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Yakk
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Yakk » Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:32 pm UTC

You hang out with the wrong women. The "right" ones generally don't appreciate being called "girls" in a dismissive fashion, which would explain why they actively avoid you.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Pandorly
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Pandorly » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:15 am UTC

I didn't mean to sound dismissive of girls, I was merely referring to the general social trends I have observed. I probably am hanging out with the wrong ones, but I'm in a teaching college; as in, learning how to become a teacher. There, most of the females have had incredibly (some would say "sickeningly") sheltered and privileged upbringings. Said college has a gender ratio of nine girls to every one boy and I still end up with two male housemates/best friends. Although I am a regular feature in all the girl's houses nearby and I haven't consciously ruled out the possibility, I more than likely could not live with or become best friends with another girl. Based on all the girls I've gotten to know very well, we simply lack too much common ground. It is a sad fact of my life.

On-topic, this kid seems to have similar ambitions to the OP's.
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MysteryBall
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby MysteryBall » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:02 am UTC

Kromix wrote:get this foot pedal and modify it to fit in the door bell :)

http://www.stealthswitch2.com/what-is-t ... switch-ii/


I was actually looking at something like that, this specifically since there's a lovely array of C# based examples on messing with it out there. There's also the Hulk, Iron Man and Spiderman buttons which look suspiciously similar, almost as if they're simply rehashes of the original in an attempt to milk franchise fans of every last penny.

mr-mitch wrote:Is RF unfeasible for you?


I'd rather steer clear of anything wireless for both battery and annoyingness reasons. Our last wireless doorbell was a pain in the ass and we already have a wired one here (I just need to redo the end of the wire since it's split inside).

distractedSofty
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby distractedSofty » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:42 pm UTC

I'm curious as to why you exclude the arduino: it looks like you can get the arduino uno for about 22 pounds, or the Duemilanove for 19 (assuming you're in the UK and that's why you linked UK google), and it would provide 14 I/O pins in case you have any other home automaton desires in future. Since those buttons are all ~10 pounds, it seems like it's not a huge leap. (Plus, you have the advantage that you'd be using the hobbyist's go-to platform, so it's easier to get help if you need it)

Personally, simply since I'm working on it for my own personal projects, and it seems appropriately funny, I would process the audio input of a microphone connected to your computer: make it listen for the doorbell. As a bonus, you'll probably get spurious tweets, just like you might have false alarms yourself.

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Pandorly
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Re: Doorbell -> Computer

Postby Pandorly » Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:25 pm UTC

Have you looked at the guy who did it using Nerdkit?
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