Introducing InfoNinja

Overview | Hardware/Firmware | Software

InfoNinja is an Open Source Ethernet-connected desk­top heads-up dis­play. It works in tan­dem with a desk­top com­puter to give you an at-a-glance sec­ondary dis­play of both text and ambi­ent (color/blink/fade) infor­ma­tion.

It is also a tea timer.

There are two pieces to InfoNinja, each split into its own sec­tion:

The hard­ware is the InfoNinja box itself.  The firmware runs within InfoNinja and pro­vides a light­weight REST-enabled web server.  It receives com­mands over the net­work and updates the text and lights.

The soft­ware runs on a desk­top com­puter.  It can query var­i­ous envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions — things like weather, bus times, the stock mar­ket, recent Tweets, email counts, auto­mated soft­ware builds — and then tell InfoNinja to do things like flash red or print sta­tus.

The two work in uni­son to give you any infor­ma­tion you need.

Built-In Functionality

Although the major­ity of the pro­cess­ing hap­pens on a desk­top machine, with InfoNinja act­ing as an exter­nal dis­play, it still has a few built-in oper­a­tions that do not require an exter­nal machine.

Button A, the green but­ton, acts as a tea timer. Each press will switch between a 3, 5, and 7 minute timer. A fourth press will dis­able the timer.

Button B, the white but­ton, tog­gles the back­light. This tog­gles the back­light in “reg­u­lar” color mode. If it is dis­play­ing a sin­gle solid color, it will be tog­gled. If the server has instructed InfoNinja to go into an ani­mated back­ground mode (typ­i­cally a red or yel­low flash to indi­cate a prob­lem), the back­light dis­able will not work.

For now, but­ton C, the red but­ton, tog­gles a demo mode that blinks the but­ton lights and selects ran­dom col­ors for the LCD back­light. There are plans for chang­ing this in a future firmware update.

If InfoNinja has not received an update in 70 sec­onds (that’s 60 sec­onds plus a lit­tle wig­gle room), it will fade the back­ground, back and forth, between two shades of blue. This is a visual indi­ca­tion that the dis­played data is prob­a­bly stale and that there is some sort of prob­lem — typ­i­cally a net­work con­nec­tiv­ity issue or a bug in your desk­top code.

If a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, then a video is worth 30,000 words per sec­ond.  This is a quick overview of just the hard­ware:

Creative Commons License InfoNinja hard­ware by Brian Enigma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.  InfoNinja firmware and soft­ware is licensed as GPL v2.0 soft­ware.

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