When we started the UsenetServer Innovation Challenge, we pressed our users to get those creative juices flowing when we asked them to build a Do-It-Yourself project using a Raspberry Pi 2 micro computer as the starting point and key component of the project. We had no restrictions and left the field wide open for entries with only one caveat: the incorporation of our Usenet or VPN service. While we don’t have our winners yet, we wanted to share with you some samples of the awesome entries submitted before the judging period comes to a close!
The PocketPi is a project that uses solar technology in conjunction with multiple
sensors to create a sleek, portable survival device that would function even
without common power. These devices are fitted with a module that allows for 3G
connectivity. This allows for the device to connect to the UsenetServer network
and provide search data with an easy to use interface. This includes current
weather conditions, and the network is also used to upload data from a range of
sensors, to provide cloud-based analysis and data mining to find patterns.
Basically, the PocketPi is a very portable, very sleek and rugged piece of
equipment that is waterproof, dust-proof, etc and utilises the cloud to provide data
to the user, even if they are out-of-bounds of accessible power
My idea is to use a Pi to create something akin to the old “”WebTv””. It
would plug into a TV and have a keyboard and a mouse. When first powered up, a
user would see something along the lines of what they’d see on a Smart Tv; it
would show; a browser, a music player, a video player and an e-reader program.
Usenet could be used as a way to stream news of interest to the user, perhaps in
something like a “”ticker””. Many people who access the Internet do not need the
full power of a PC. Something like this would allow these people a way to get
online without the frustrations of a PC or laptop.
Home Automation and Media Server
It’s not “What can you do with a Raspberry Pi 2?”, but what I’m doing with a
Raspberry Pi 2 and some of its brothers and sisters. The automated home, using a
3 Raspberry Pi’s (B+, B+ and 2) in a star network configuration, controlling: my
home alarm system (Honeywell), 6 zone garden sprinkler/irrigation system,
garden lights, swimming pool temperature, garage abd drive way lights, living
room lights, temperature sensors all over the house, using X10 and Z-wave
protocols, using the HomeGenie software framework with several custom written
apps to control everything. Experimenting with upnp (DNLA) for media to
control the home theatre experience, where a 4th RasPi can act as DNLA server
and usenet down-loader. All of this controllable via web interface, Android and
Windows Phone from inside the home or anywhere in the world.
The current Raspberry Pi project I’m working on includes a PHP backend that
routinely checks an NZB RSS feed from any online NZB service that offers one.
It then parses any newly posted NZB links, cleans up the RSS entry, and sends
(via the Pushover service and CuRL) the NZB download URL to my Android
phone and tablet. There, Tasker and Auto-Notification intercept/dismiss the
Pushover notification, and create a new notification with a “Download” button
and the name of the binary posted. Once pressed, the NZB URL is sent back to
SABnzbD’s API (which is also running on the Raspberry Pi). Then the download
is queued up and started. I also get a Pushover notification when the download
has completed, and weather it was successful or not. This system currently works
great, and I can easily queue up new binary downloads from my Android Wear
watch-device as soon as they are posted. The next phase of the operation is to
build a web-based interface to tell the PHP script to skip notifying me if a post has
any specific text in the title, or send a “high-priority” notification with different
text in the title.
Fully Loaded Server
A fully personal and secure server equipped for all purposes, mainly to be lord
and master of all my bits and bytes as opposed to resort to free 3rd party cloud
solutions. I’d run a headless Raspbian Jessie, which I will use for the following
purposes: Web server (Linux, Nginx, Mysql, PHP which will host webmail using
Roundcube and a personal cloud server using ownCloud, and a Namecheap SSL
certificate for 9 bucks/year); Mail server (Postfix (with SPF support), Dovecot,
Amavis, Spamassassin (behind Amavis, with DCC, Razor and Pyzor), ClamAV
(behind amavis and auto updating signatures using Freshclam), Postgrey,
OpenDKIM, OpenDMARC, registered domain and all required records for MX,
TXT (for SPF, DKIM, DMARC), TLSA (for DANE)); Download server (Sonarr,
Couchpotato, NZBGet, Transmission daemon); NAS server (Samba for at home,
SSHFS [SFTP] for secure remote access via SSH); VPN server (SSH tunnels and
OpenVPN for secure access to home and the internet whenever I’m on the move
and using free wifi networks); To store my data, a fully LUKS encrypted external
HDD which unlocks using a key file on my USB stick, plus a second LUKS
keyslot random passphrase which I store in my password manager, as a backup.
I’d also use a separate LUKS encrypted swap file on the external HDD, encrypted
with a totally random key every time it boots. Every week my HDD will rsync to
separate HDD fully encrypted HDD for backups.
We have been truly impressed by the quality and quantity of submissions we have received in our Innovation Challenge. We’re thankful to everyone who entered and are amazed at the creativity from our entrants! Judging will be completed August 3, 2015 and we will announce the Innovation Challenge Winner on August 7, 2015.
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