The aim was to create a handheld device to entertain my son and introduce basic electronics to him. It needed to be versatile to ensure it could be coded for a variety of functions, easy to assemble and cheap.
The hardware is simple, but has enough on it to do what I need it to do; an RFID reader to interact with tags (great for a hide and seek type of games, for example), a screen to play messages and a few different coloured LEDs to indicate when scanning, when something is found, etc. An ESP8266 is being integrated to allow a parent to trigger messages and alerts from a phone/tablet via the ESP8266 webserver.
The First Use Case
The first idea that came to mind was to 'detect the presence of Santa' in our house in the run up to Christmas; on a morning he got up, switched his scanner on and circled out living room, slowly passing the device over surface he thought he may have touched. This was before the RFID reader was there, so I triggered messsages on his screen using the webserver via our home network.
This worked great - I could send alerts regarding reindeeer, elves and santa himself; the lights would change colour and a little message stating 'Santa detected' was all it needed! He absolutely loved doing it, and his adventures looking out for traces of Santa made him forget is chocolate calendar most mornings. :-)
This project is far from complete; I have a lot of code and photos to upload once I've been through them and I will continue to do so when I get an opportunity,
I would like to come up with a variety of sketches for a whole range of games and uses.
Next, I would like to add a soil sensor to it so he can start using it to check moisture levels in his plants that we start growing in Spring and will prompt him to water them when needed.
I'd also like to explore similar use cases for checking fish tanks pH levels and temps, etc.
Another use could be like an in-house pager; sticking a little buzzer on it would work great!
Any suggestions for it please get in touch! :-D