Is home automation just about toys for lazy rich people? I don’t think so! It’s about using technology to extend our own capabilities and become just a little bit superhuman.
As humans we all have physical limitations. Some of us are healthy and strong, and some of us aren’t, but ultimately we all get older and find that it’s harder to do things that we used to do easily. I see technology as an enabler that can extend our abilities or help us overcome limitations in our bodies or our environment.
Way back in 2011 I did a conference presentation titled “Use The Force, Linus!” which was about using Open Source technology to give ourselves Jedi powers. Many of the examples I covered in that presentation were drawn from my home automation projects.
Karl has been busy! The next episode of his video series “State of Electronics” is up already, and it covers a fascinating topic: how plastic parts are made for electronic products. For electronics hobbyists, most of the focus is on circuit boards and parts and all the bits that go inside a device. The idea of going to the next level and designing a custom-fabricated case or other part seems totally out of reach unless you use a low-volume, low-accuracy method like 3D printing.
In this episode Karl shows how the Jiafuh factory turns out millions of plastic parts for all sorts of products, including mobile phone chargers, product cases, and even car parts.
Maybe some time soon I’ll be able to do a custom injection-moulded case for a SuperHouse project 🙂
Don’t forget to subscribe to Karl’s YouTube channel for more cool technical videos.
If you can’t get enough of the Huaqiangbei electronics markets in Shenzhen, China, then check out this new video! My friend Karl has been very busy editing the footage he recorded on our recent trip to China, and he’s just released his latest video.
Please subscribe to his channel (State of Electronics) on YouTube if you want to see more of these types of videos.
Near the end of the video there’s discussion of some custom switches that I had manufactured while we were over there. They’ll be a major feature of an upcoming SuperHouse video about more advanced home automation light switches.
Next week I’ll be in Sydney for linux.conf.au, the big annual Linux and Open Source conference run by Linux Australia. While I’m away some orders may ship out, but it’s best to assume that any orders placed after today won’t ship until Monday, January 29.
If you’re coming along to linux.conf.au, ask around for Jonathan Oxer and come and say hi! I’ll be running the Open Hardware Miniconf on the first day of the conference so I should be easy to find. At the OHMC we’ll have a bunch of people building this little soccer-playing robot:
UPDATE:I’ve been asked by several people how they can get in touch with factories so they can go on tours. Please DON’T DO THIS unless you are serious about doing business with that company. Factories are not amusement parks, and the staff who work in them are busy doing their jobs. If you want to manufacture a product and you seriously want to do business with a factory, then it’s easy to arrange a tour. But don’t do it just because you want to have a look! That wastes their time.
ITEAD, makers of the super-popular Sonoff home automation devices, very generously allowed me to visit their head office, their factory, and their warehouse so that I could see how the Sonoff is made.
Come with me on a quick trip to China to learn a little about the amazing city of Shenzhen, see its enormous electronics markets, and go inside the Sonoff factory to watch them progress from a bare PCB to a finished product.
My friend Karl von Moller came along with me and a few others on a recent trip to Shenzhen, China. Karl is a film-maker so he documented the trip extensively, and the first episode about the trip is up now:
He’ll be following up with more videos about what we saw on the trip, and my own video about our tour of ITEAD and visit to the Sonoff factory will be up soon too.
I’ve heard from a few people that they’ve tried making purchases from my new online store, but haven’t been able to complete checkout. A couple of people have reported that they couldn’t checkout, then tried again later and it worked – even though I hadn’t changed anything.
My theory is that the problem is with the Australia Post shipping calculation plugin that I’m using with WooCommerce. When you get to the part of the checkout where you enter your address, it uses the size and weight of your order to look up the shipping cost with Australia Post before you can complete the checkout. For some people this doesn’t seem to work, so it just sits there and goes nowhere.
Obviously this is really frustrating and I’d like to make sure it’s fixed, so if you have any problems with the online store please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Having more information about exactly when the problem shows up would be a big help.
I’ve checked that all the products have weights and dimensions specified, but perhaps it has problems with some countries or specific destinations.
I finally, FINALLY, got around to putting the parts for my home automation light switches up on the new SuperHouse online store. I thought it would be easy: just put up four products, with 1, 2, 3, or 4 buttons. But then I realised that Australian wall plates don’t suit many people, so I have to make them available as kits to fit into different types of wall plates. Then I realised that people may want different colour buttons, so I have to separate the breakouts from the buttons.
I’m in China visiting electronics parts suppliers and factories as part of the HardworX Shenzhen Innovation Tour, but today I left the famous Huaqiangbei electronics markets to spend some time at Maker Faire Shenzhen, the second largest Maker Faire in the world. This video shows a few of the makers exhibiting their projects. The faire itself stretches across a huge area and uses many buildings, and the basketball courts shown in this video are just one tiny corner of the event.
I’ve now arrived in Shenzhen, China, which is the electronics capital of the world. I’m busy recording video and taking photos so that I can show everyone what it’s like here in the most high-tech city in the world.
This was the view from my hotel room window when I arrived last night:
Click the image for a larger version. It’s worth it!
The octagonal building you can see to the left that disappears above the top of the photo is SEG Plaza, the heart and soul of the electronics industry here. Every other commercial building you can see in that photo (and going out many blocks in every direction) is directly related to electronics manufacturing. There are entire buildings full of nothing but LED vendors. Buildings for case manufacturers. Buildings for cell phone parts. Buildings for LCD panels, both bare (OEM) and retail ready, and every stage in between.
If you’re interested in electronics and you haven’t heard of Shenzhen or the Huaqiangbei markets before, the next few videos that I upload will be eye-opening.
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