If you look at your computer for something that has an 8 bit parallel interface, you will find a parallel port. A moderate amount of programming later, and I am able to output the right data to make the display show useful information. I also realized that I had 3 or 4 inputs coming from the parallel port. A little more coding, and I was able to connect 3 push-buttons to provide control.
The ability to easily check the weather forecast seemed like a nifty thing to be able to do. Code was written to go out to Environment Canada's webpage, and grab the forecast for my nearby airport. This gets parsed out, and shown on the display when the appropriate button is pressed.
My server is running Faxtalk Messenger Pro 7.1 which turns my server with it's voice modem into my answering machine with fax capabilities. Again, this wasn't ideal, since a trip downstairs to the basement was necessary to check to see if somebody left a message. More code was written, and I can now check how many messages were left, and the date/time of the last message.
I currently have it setup as follows:
- Button 1: Refresh Display with current temperature information
- Button 2: Display Weather Forecast
- Button 3: Check Answering Machine
- Button 4: Turn on Backlight
The display also refreshes automatically every time there is a new reading from the logger (so every 60 seconds).
In order for this to be useful, it had to be somewhere convenient. After some discussion with my wife, it was decided that it could go on the wall beside the furnace thermostat. BUT, it had to pass the Wife Acceptance Test (WAT). I wasn't sure how to do this. One day I was visiting my uncle, and it turns out that he has a fairly complete wood-shop. He built a small wooden case for the display. I carefully drilled the holes I would need for the switches, and set it up. It is now mounted to the wall, next to the furnace thermostat, where is is used regularly.
|<- Back||Next ->|