Stream PC Text Info to Yourself with This Bluetooth® Feed Reader
Ripped from the pages of Popular Science (January 2008 issue)
Now you can have your PC stock ticker and take it with you. Or, for that matter, you can schlep your weather report, sports scores, e-mail, PC stats, and RSS feeds around the house or office unencumbered by cables and power cords. Built on the venerable Bluetooth® radio transmitter technology, the “Feeder Reader” gives your PC display a pair of newfound legs. And your text display never looked so good, either. Forget those backlit LCDs, this box uses a vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) that glows a gassy green for lending a trendy retro look to this high tech wireless display. But the “Feeder Reader” isn’t all old school, it’s built on a space age power supply technology—a polymer lithium ion battery. Equipped with an onboard charger system that plugs into your PC USB port for a quick, convenient recharge, you’re ready to take your most important information and move out. You’ll be stepping out in style, too. The “Feeder Reader” is safely ensconced in the perfect finishing touch—a custom-designed old-time radio-style cabinet.
- Intelligent 1x16 VFD (BG Micro # ACS1385; $15.95; availability is sporadic and unpredictable, watch BG Micro Web site for details)
- Bluetooth modem (Spark Fun Electronics #WRL-00582; $64.95)
- Polymer lithium ion battery 100mAh (Spark Fun Electronics # PRT-00731; $6.95)
- LiPoly charger (Spark Fun Electronics # PRT-00726; $16.95)
- 5V DC to DC step up (Spark Fun Electronics # PRT-08290; $9.95)
- SPST switch (RadioShack #275-406; $2.69)
- Hookup wire 22-gauge (RadioShack #278-1224; $5.99)
- LCD Smartie (FREE) - lcdsmartie.sourceforge.net
2. PUMP IT UP
The voltage output from the battery is insufficient for powering the Bluetooth modem and the VFD. The voltage must be “amplified” with the 5V DC to DC Step Up board. Solder the output from the LiPoly charger to the input of the 5V DC to DC step up PCB. Add an SPST switch to the step up PCB for controlling power ON/OFF.
3. JACK IN
Connect the TTL serial output from the Bluetooth modem to the TTL serial input of the VFD and fit the finished assembly inside your custom case. Use your PC’s Bluetooth software for pairing and connecting to the Bluetooth modem. Set the Bluetooth port for 9600, 8, N, 1 communication parameters.
4. READ THE STREAM
Fire up LCD Smartie. Select the “test driver” display device driver and enter the Bluetooth COM port number and communication parameters. Set the screen size to 1x16 and apply your changes to LCD Smartie (NOTE: you might have to exit this software and restart it for your configuration to work properly).
Choose the data that you want to stream to your “Feeder Reader” and take a hike…around the house, yard, or office. Just stay within 50 feet of your PC for ensuring a good solid Bluetooth wireless connection.