Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dockstar Now a PBX

I just finished configuring dock #1 to be a PBX. The recently acquired Linksys PAP2T has 2 phone jacks, and each is configured as an extension in Asterisk. I used this link to configure it to use Sipgate (free incoming calls) as the incoming call provider. Google Voice is used for dialing out. It does this by calling the number that was dialed, then calling the configured incoming number (Sipgate) and connecting the two. All for the price of free. This isn't going to be our main landline since we already have MagicJack. Instead it's going to be used mainly as an in-house intercom system. So, now dock #1 runs Asterisk, Motion, bluetooth proximity and contact closure over IP.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dockstar Surveillance

I finally stopped being lazy and finished up deploying 2 Dockstars. The first one has been set to replace a HP T5700 thin client that was mainly being used with xPLGameport for contact closure over IP. I connected the T5700's gameport to the Dockstar and it was plug & play. It's also running as a bluetooth proximity sensor and a webcam interface using the cheap (and often hated) $9 EasyCap USB video adapter which I got from Amazon (see below). I used these drivers and installation was a breeze. I'm using Motion to provide a webcam interface. Right now, it's connected to one of my old, unused surveillance cameras. Finally, I found a Linksys PAP2T on Craiglist for $15. I've installed Asterisk on this dock and want to use it to set up an intercom so we can call the kids from downstairs. I may do some VOIP integration. We'll see how far I get with that.

The 2nd dock is also being used as a webcam with Motion and another old camera. This one I'm actually using the motion detection to generate events when an area has activity. Motion divides a screen into 9 zones and I've specified 2 of them. It's sending out xPL messages with xPL Perl's xpl-sender app. It works really well, much better than the motion sensor I have in that location, which picks up bushes blowing in the wind. It also has a bluetooth dongle.

I also picked up a couple WRT54G routers from Craigslist, loaded them with Tomato firmware and I'm using them as bridges for the cheap Squeezeboxes I found earlier. Since the gen 1 squeezeboxes don't support WPA, I needed the bridges so I wouldn't have to run a router with WEP "security".

Finally, there is no Black Friday aftermath this year for me. Surprisingly, there really wasn't anything I wanted to get. It's the first time in many years where I didn't get up at 3AM to do some online shopping or hit stores in the wee hours of the morning. I do want to upgrade our cellphones, but there's no hurry. Plus, I'm holding out for some decent Android tablets. The Pandigital Novel got returned again as I just couldn't stand how slow it was, even for $80.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dockstar USB Sound Tip

Just wanted to add a quick post with some of the problems I had with getting a USB soundcard working reliably after rebooting the dock. Make sure to install alsa-base and the supporting modules using apt-get. Also, in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf, look for the line that says options snd-usb-audio index and change its value from -2 to -1. This makes sure it will assign the USB device as soundcard 1. Otherwise, you may have issues with applications like mpg123 using it. Another thing that may cause problems for you is a missing /dev/dsp. Squeezeslave needs this to work. I found a site that said to do apt-get install oss-compat. I did this, the install won't work, but /dev/dsp gets created. Hope this helps some avoid headaches getting sound working.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Now Daily Dockstar Update

I've now gotten Bluetooth proximity working. It appears the xPL-bluetooth code isn't right so I've made my own changes and now it works. Also, after installing mpg123, the dock is now an MP3 player. It was using about 50% of the CPU and sounded pretty bad until I found this post. I made the suggested changes and the CPU utilization dropped to 2-3% and it sounds just fine. I also installed the Squeezebox emulator Squeezeslave (there is a native binary) and it works great. I can stream last.fm to it, but Pandora refuses to stream to Squeezeslave (a old, known issue).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Voice Recognition on the Dockstar??

Yup. It works too! I've connected an old USB SoundBlaster to the Dockstar and installed Sphinx, an open source VR program. Installation was straight forward and worked right away. VR is a little much for the Dockstar, especially long sentences, which can peg the CPU at nearly 100% for a few seconds. Simple commands, however, work fairly well. Hopefully, I can find out how to restrict the subset of VR commands to reduce the load on the CPU. In any case, it's a great start.

However, I didn't have much luck getting bluetooth proximity working with xpl-perl's xpl-bluetooth. My testing with webcams was mixed. I have 1 UVC camera and 2 old Logitechs and none of them would come up using mjpg-streamer and one of the Logitechs worked with motion.

I ended up ordering 2 more Dockstars. In the meantime, I'm going to keep playing around with Sphinx. Oh, and how about those World Series Champion San Francisco Giants!