Making a Monster Book

The idea was to make a diy version of this monster book from harry potter.


The one they used in the movie is probably a several thousand $ remote control robot but with the right parts I think we can get something close that jumps around or wiggles a bit.

Before I started this project I looked around online and found several tutorials on how to decorate a monster book but none on making one move. So here is my version…



So there are 2 parts to making a good monster book

  1. putting some electronic guts inside the book for the motion
  2. decorating the outside of the book to look like a monster ( I did not decorate this one I just made it move)



To get things moving on the first version I used  hardware I already had. An arduino starter kit .  Below there is an easier version made with little bits.



parts for arduino version:

  • 1 arduino board
  • 1 servo
  • battery pack for servo (I used a 4 double A pack)
  • battery pack for arduino board (I used a 9v pack)
  • some alligator clip wires
  • tape
  • spacer material
  • paper mache book
  • arduino sketch code that will make the servo move downlaod mine here
  • arduino software to load sketch code onto board download here for windows or here for mac
  • usb cable


This setup requires 2 different battery packs because the arduino boards only use 5 volts and the servo motors take 9 to 12 volts. Trying to run the servo thru the arduino board could burn out the board from current.

Before cramming all this into the book you should connect the wires and make sure it works first.

The first thing is to plug the arduino board into the computer via the usb cable and upload the sketch code that will tell the servo motor to go back and forth.  When you send the sketch code to the board it should say verified… compiled … and uploaded complete. During an upload there is a tiny led on the board that will blink rapidly.

Now you can wire things together with the alligator clips.  The servo has 3 wires red and black for power and a yellow for data. The battery pack for the servo should have red and black wires so just connect red to red and black to black between the battery and servo.

The yellow wire goes to the number 15 slot on the side of the arduino board. The arduino board can be powered by either usb or the battery. Since this will be in a closed box we are using the battery. If you have the 9v battery pack you should find the barrel battery port to plug it into just to the side of the usb slot.  There is also a ground wire that needs to be connected from the arduino board to the black wire of the servo. It might take a few tries to make sure everything is connected right. but after a few seconds the servo should move when it is correctly powered up.

fitting-arduino-parts-in-book   tapped-up-parts-in-book    part-that-hits-book-lid

Now getting the guts in the box.  Depending on the size and thickness of you book box your positions maybe different from mine.  To get the best movement of the lid I had to place the servo in the middle of the box. I also had to put a spacer under the servo so that the lid was just barely open a crack.  I just tapped everything down with masking tape. The arduino went in the back corner with its battery pack in the front and the other battery pack in the left back corner.




The simpler alternative to use little bits parts instead of arduino parts.

You need a battery pack… power bit… pulse bit…. and either a servo bit ….

You basically just connect them in order and turn it on. The pulse bit will activate the servo at certain intervals that you can adjust duration of. The limitation with this setup is you can’t set the duration to be very long like with the arduino setup is every few minutes. You have to choose to have it on all the time with the pulse or activate it with the button press. The other thing with the pulse bit is the little adjustment screw on the bottom of it needs to be turned all the way to the minus side for the longest duration.

There are more little bits modules you can get for more advanced setups but these few modules are what typically come with the smaller kits.

You can get a little fancier with the little bits and use the 3 way bit to add lights for the eyes. I used the led for white light or the bar graph bit for green light.


Then just place in book box so the servo makes the lid move as show above.



If you made it this far thank you for skimming my blog. If you run into problems ask a question in the comments.






Mighty Lighty Build Progress

Update ….

I have since entered this project into 2 hardware contests here     and here

I’m also in the process of sourcing parts for version 2 with the smaller raspberry pi zero and smaller power supply


The problem –

Security cameras are still complicated to install, setup, and use. Most require a technician or a handful of frustrating calls to various tech support places. And the average person may still not be able to see a video feed outside of their local home network.

2 primary components that all video cameras require are power and data. For medium to higher end setups this means running cables. Even cams that have Wi-Fi still require a power source that better be somewhat close to an outlet unless you want to change batteries (wireless power hasn’t hit the big time yet).This could get even more complicated if you want to put this security cam outside. Now it needs to be weather proof, within Wi-Fi range, and power source.

The Solution –

What if there was already a convenient but over looked power source in all the locations you would want to place a security camera around a house?

Enter the humble light bulb socket… There is at least one in every room, by the front door and the back door, even in front of the garage.

The security camera form factor just needs adapted to take advantage these locations…

An indoor/outdoor security camera that you can plug into any light socket and remote control from any phone, tablet, or laptop.

Ideally it would have no moving parts… if the wide lens camera sensor does provide the best viewing angle the enclosure may have to be slightly flexible or have 2 image sensors

Concept for Alpha version or proof of concept parts list …

  • Light socket to 2 prong plugin adapter
  • 120v to 5v 2.1amp adapter to power raspberry pi
  • Raspberry pi 3 board for Bluetooth/Wi-Fi
  • Wide angle 180 degree camera or raspberry camera module
  • Led light or small led panel
  • Back up battery
  • 3d printed enclosure for modern light fixture
  • For location outside of Wi-Fi coverage an Ethernet over power line option could be included
  • For outdoor models weather sensors could be included
  • Day or night vision

*Obliviously with a proper pcb layout much of this could be combined and reduced

*Heat dissipation could be a problem enclosure may have double duty of heat sink functionality


Android and ios apps and internal web accessible menu

Painless pairing … connect to a mighty lightyjust like you connect a phone with a new chrome cast.

Remove old light bulb … screw in might lighty … download /open app … add camera to app with painless pairing… and you have just installed a smart security camera in less than 5 minutes

Raspberry pi could run either linux or windows 10 IOT ….

Would need video server functionality

Light web server functionality …

possibly node.js

H264 streaming

Upnp networking

And opencv for people and pet detection or googles new image detection ai service

Video and image capture would not be locked down to any one destination…

Save video or images to your cloud storage of choice… box… drive… s3 … or local nas on network

Put video on any tv in house via dlna or chrome cast

Even set the video of a might lighty to your choice of streaming services… youtube etc

Get notifications from the apps… object detection emails, texts or twitter

Notification if someone inevitably turns that light switch off .. warning running on battery power

Also works with nest or other smart home hubs

We can’t forget the light source… configure light timer … dusk to dawn … motion activated … etc


Putting it all together

After switching to the alternative lighting with the smart bulb I was able to put it together pretty quickly.

I installed MotioneyeOS and took the stock raspbian off. Out of the box it is very functional for this particular case but for a production model or consumer version the software would have to be even more user friendly for non tech people. Which is the whole point of this project.

Switching to the smart bulb also meant switching to a slightly different light socket adapter with a 2 prong outlet on the side.

This version of the prototype achieved the following things:

  • App controlled lighting through the wink app
    • turn on/off ,
    • dimmable
    • scheduling
  • Web controlled security camera made possible by MotionEyeOS
    • Motion detection
    • image capture and save
    • video capture and save
    • save data to google drive or dropbox
    • view video away from the house
    • email notifications of motion detections
  • Hardware
    • pi 3 with integrated wifi
    • pi camera 5 mega pixel
    • GE A19 smart bulb
    • usb charger


Future Call Center AI

A future relative of Apple’s siri and Microsoft’s cortana will replace the majority of people for customer service call center jobs. There are a number of innovations currently under way that will conspire to make this possible. Think about it, a lot of time when you call customer service today the call is already being answered by an automated system that tries to router you to the right place. These automated systems are just a few years away from being sufficiently smart enough to do a lot more than just route your call. In no particular order here are some thoughts on it:

  • Skype can translate voice calls in real time between people. Understanding natural language won’t be a problem for this future call center AI
  • Google just updated its robot voice used in the ok google app to sound more human and smooth. This future call center AI won’t sound like a robot.
  • All calls to the call center AI will be answered on the first ring. Because the call center AI will be instances running in the cloud you will never be put on hold. The number of instances needed will be dynamically load balanced to the number of calls coming in.
  • It will be like you are talking to the same AI rep every time whether that was last week or last year. Because all calls are recorded for quality the call center AI will be able to bring up all your previous conversations with the company.
  • Call center AI will replace humans for call center jobs because the will be much cheaper. They don’t need health insurance, lunch breaks, or vacations. You can turn them off when there is low call volume.
  • They will take up less space, dozens of instances will probably run from a single server rack. Completely on demand customer service 24/7 even on holidays.
  • There is a high probability the reason you’ll be calling in will be technology related. The call center AI being a robot will easily be able to talk to and or analyze the piece of technology your calling in about. Like the AI rep of a internet service provider telling your modem or computer to restart or talking with a 3rd party AI to send a software update to your device.


Kevin Kelly recently said in a talk at sxsw that these future AI things need 3 things…. Neural Nets( simulated brain functions), a mountains of cheap processor power to at as the virtual nurons in the form of gpu chips, and big data which call center have mountains of will all the calls they have been recording for the AI to learn against. But I think this is good like he says at the end jobs like should go to robots. Human should have better things to spend their time on than being chained to a desk.

Kelyjames 3.0

This is the 3rd time I have rebuilt my website. It has gone thru a few iterations. This time around I started with deciding to rebuild my vps hosted with digital ocean. Before I had just used the ubuntu image with WordPress included. The problem that is that it runs with Apache instead of nginx. After running that setup for a year it kept crashing every few weeks both on the $5 droplet and the $10 droplet. To compound things I actually run WordPress Multi-site so I was really maxing out the limited memory available on the small droplets.

The solution was to switch to nginx. Running wordpress ontop of nginx you can squeeze a lot more performance from a small vps. It used to be fairly complitcted to setup with a lot of files to edit in order to get wordpress to work correctly but then I found an amazing tool called which makes the setup part competely painless.


so the current web stack here is namecheap for domains, cloudflare for dns, digital ocean for vps hosting, ubuntu 14 os, WordPress Multi-site, and wpmudev for a variety of themes and plugins. Which I am currently using to power 6 to 8 separate sites.


how to fix Panisonic 10 blink error

I recently got to repair a broken Panasonic Plasma TV It was much trickier than I expected. I have replaced power boards before in Vizio’s but they were LCD The first this I did was plug it in and turn it on to confirm the 10 red blinks. Then I took the back cover off to see if any caps were blown. There did not appear to be any bad spots.

To the internet… I searched the model number to see what would come up. I use duckduckgo instead of google or bing. A few things come up notably some videos on youtube about how to fix a bad power board but those videos were for older models of TV. I pull the trigger and order a power board anyway. ShopJimmy is where I get all my tv parts if they have them in stock or else eBay A few day later new power board shows up I install it turn it on and I still have the 10 blinks….

Back to the internet… One of the confusing/frustrating things of this adventure was going to the Panasonic support website yielded no usable info. All they say if your set is giving you 10 blinks and is not because of a hdmi cable is it needs serviced. Well duh I’m trying to service it. This time around I dig a little deeper into some forums and come across something called Panasonic National training manual. It looked good but none of them were for the model of TV I had. I little more digging led me to the 2010 Plasma tv technical guide. PDF link here Anyway this applies to these models of Panasonic plasma TV made in 2010


(FHD Premium 3D)
TC-P54VT25 TC-P58VT25 TC-P65VT25
(FHD Core)
TC-P42G25 TC-P46G25
(FHD Leader)
(FHD Entry)
(HD Leader)
(HD Entry)

After scanning this new found manual the 10 blinks is what they call an SOS or generic code for any of 3 boards or combination of those boards can be bad. It says you can alternately unplug the connectors circled in red to test which of the boards are bad. After following those steps I decided the SS or Vsus board was bad so I ordered one of those. It finally comes install it and I still have the 10 blinks. I go thru the trouble shooter in the training manual again. With the new SS board in it now says the SN board was bad. So I ordered one of those. Each time I ordered a part I had to wait awhile because it always ended up on a weekend so the soonest anything would ship is Monday.

Ok I now have the new SN board put it in while holding my breath that it will work this time and no good. I have 8 blinks instead of 10. Back to the training manual… for 8 blinks is say the cables on the SS board could be loose. So I take it down unplug and reset those set it back up and I finally get it to power on WOOOOHOOOO!!! but the picture has black horizontal lines across it.

There is nothing in the manual about black lines. They ended up coming form the ribbon connectors on the left side of the SN board. Took me about an hour to get them seated just right. They have to be perfectly straight.

panasonic plasma board labels

plasma labels


I liked the challenge. I haven’t had to work that hard to fix something for awhile. Total cost of parts $28.05 for SS board, $69.16 for SN board plus $9 restocking fee for returning the power board that I tried first. Equals $106.21 and about 3 1/2 weeks due to all the ship

kindle 3 tear down and repair

This project started with a customer bring me 2 kindle 3rd generation e readers want one fixed. His original was dropped and broke the power switch. The other one he bought for parts it had a broken screen. The other difference between the 2 devices besides the broken parts was the original was a 3g model and the broken screen one was WiFi only model. I didn’t know that until after I had them apart. The 3g model is also one they bought while over seas.

So I popped some covers open to see what I could do. The first ideas was to try to replace just the power switch but that didn’t work because the power button is integrated into some kind of a substrate that the circuit board is attached to. My next idea then was to just swap the guts in them. I put the good screen with the WiFi only guts and it worked.

But I wasn’t quite satisfied with losing the 3g function. I took them apart a little farther removing both boards from the substrate and put one back together with the good screen, good power switch, and original 3g guts. Did not power on ouch. Tired reconnecting the little ribbon cables and connections but still no good. In the end I went back to the working setup with the good screen, WiFi only guts, and good power switch.

The customer gets a working unit just minus the 3g function.

Tools of the trade just one little Phillips screw driver and plastic pry tool to get the case off. On the plus side the battey is very easily replaced if that was the problem. Nothing was glued down like you find with apple products. Some things had some double sided tap was all.


I wasn’t thinking when I started the job so these photos were taken after the fact with the leftover parts