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Step 12: The Last Bit

Picture of The Last Bit

Conclusion Video:

I say this almost every time, but this was the most fun project I've made so far. It has just the right combination of new technology, old hardware and practicality. Maybe my favourite part though is its simplicity and reliability - I initially thought programming mouse moves on a headless Pi would be temperamental if it worked at all, but it works very well.

It was also really satisfying to harness video calling using a Pi, this has been one of my "Holy Grails" for a while, and Google Duo does a great job, especially on the Pi 3B+. The sound quality of the calls is astonishingly good, and the video is certainly smoother than expected. I hope the web version of Duo continues to develop and Google don't mess with the interface too much - although even if they did something like move a button or textbox the co-ordinates in the script could be easily changed. I read this week they may be adding group chat, I'll be interested to see how this works.

I'm now looking back at some of my old TV conversions and wondering whether to update them as video chat consoles, I do have one that already has a webcam built in, it would just need a mouse to control the calls. It'd be great to bring to life the future vision of videophones as imagined back in the 50s and 60s.

I admittedly went a bit overboard with this project, but you could build something similar with very few components, just a Pi, webcam, speaker & button really - we'd love to see any pics or videos if you do make one, you can tweet us @OldTechNewSpec or leave a pic in the comments. How about a nice touchscreen videophone in a dedicated case, or one where you use a rotary dial to choose a contact?

I'm writing this on 1st May and today was a momentous occasion - the first unsolicited "in the wild" call from the doorbell! During a lunch-hour walk in the city centre the doorbell called and I had a great 2-way conversation with an Amazon delivery person. I found out he didn't need a signature, discussed where to stash the parcel etc and the call quality was excellent, even though I was on a busy street with a not-brilliant 4G signal. I've been chuckling away to myself ever since.

It'd be ideal if there was a dedicated doorbell HAT for the Pi, with integrated speaker, microphone and button on one board, that could fit into a 3d-printed doorbell case using either a PI camera or webcam - I think that would make a great, low-cost (compared to commercial options) and practical kit, like the wildlife camera kits you can get now.

Thinking about it the Google AIY Projects HAT has all of those things - you'll have to excuse me while I give that a try...

If you enjoyed this Instructable check out my other projects and subscribe to Old Tech. New Spec. on YouTube for more videos!

pauldg994 months ago
You need a laser cutter! :) Awesome project