[Raspi] Message Box

My first Raspberry Pi project!

After setting up a Raspi with Recalbox to have a first foot step in the Raspberry Pi world, I’m starting a IoT project of my own.

The idea is to make a little cardbord/wooden message box containing a screen printing messages when recieved (notifications, little reminders). I ought to offer this at my to my fiancée at her birthday.

To make this project happen, I’ve found in Amazon:

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A little 320x480px TFT touchscreen (Quimat QD353728)
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A 7 hour long autonomy battery pack
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Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2

 

Key points:

  • The box should have a workday long autonomy
  • It should be able to read messages from the Internet : being portable, it will not be connected during the day, so it have to have some kind of sync mechanism
  • This will have a little camera in the lid to take pictures of the reaction when the person read the received message
  • It should be a interface to create messages with time-stamp so that people can send to the box messages that will be pop’d-up after the next sync
  • The box itself: it should be a pretty little box that doesn’t “smell techie”. It should be a friendly box, with maybe some kind of “personal assistant” in the screen saying a sweet Hello in the morning!

 

Being a web-developer, I will simply make a form in a web page to put the messages in it. Fields could be: “author”, “message”, “date”, so that anyone who care to the box owner should send messages to her. Sending pictures could be awesome too!

Data will then be sent to a private webpage, mounting a database for this might be a bit too much.

To sync, the box will frequently try to connect to the Internet. When connected, it will scrap data from the private webpage where JSON parsed data will wait. Once synchronized, it will send a message to the webpage saying “Hey, I’ve got what I need, you can now erase the staging messages”.

In the box:

Now that the box scraped the data, it will simply pop-up the messages when the message’s time arrives.

Notifications:

The lid may have a little hole in a corner. When a programmed notification arrives, the screen would turn on and show a little blinking icon (a red heart, a star, whatever) that could be seen from the lid’s hole.

The screen will arrives on Wednesday, I can’t wait for it to be there. When there, I’ll see if it would be feasible to use the Raspi GPIO inputs to plug a servo or DC motor, so that I’ll make a wooden heart rotating in the outside of the box when a notification comes. This would be sweet.

Camera:

The idea is for the owner to push a “take a picture” button to save her reaction to the messages. Maybe with the message printed in the picture too. There is a Python PiCamera library making the use of the camera really, really easy!

The interface shall be made in Python to make use of the most out of the Raspi functions. I don’t know how to make a GUI in Python, next step being learning how to do that!

I’m fairly new to the Rasberry Pi world, so those are my first notes about my project. I may be wrong in some points, maybe I turnaround with stuff when there are more straight-forward ways to do it, but it is all part of the learning process 🙂

I’ll keep this project update until it’s done.

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