Solar System goes live

As I have said, I have been working on a number of boards as part of a project that provides access control and alarm functions in a modular way: https://github.com/revk/SolarSystem

I have test systems on my bench, and I now have a small system at home. It is all working well and has helped me iron out some of the bugs.

But this week is the first proper system with 28 live WiFi nodes, meshed, and linked to the back-end cloud control. Scary stuff. It has bell boxes, keypads, PIRs, reed switches on doors, fire alarm inputs, even a panic button in a disabled toilet. Importantly it has a lot of doors. The design is pretty robust, and the whole project is all open source.

My case is packed, and boxes of tools and parts are all ready. It was a lot of work making all the modules. A lot of time with a steady hand with tweezers. I even have half a dozen spares, just in case.

So the night before I head off to start the install, I have imposter syndrome kicking in. How did I think I could possibly design and make a complete access control and alarm system from scratch (PCBs and s/w)? Well, seriously, I need to give myself a kick - I have been doing this shit long enough to know this is bullshit. It will be fine.

Assuming all is well (and I know there will be teething problems, bugs, and features, all of which will need addressing), my next big challenge is whether I can progress this in to a proper product to sell. At the very least, to make the modules (as pictured above) something we can legally sell.

In the mean time, other hackspaces that are interested, do get in touch, and I can help you set up such a system.


  1. I don't like the way the word "hack" now has positive connotations. "Hack" to me means one of several things, either a) a hacker attacking a system in some way to gain access or b) a quick "hack" ie, a cheap and nasty quick fix to get something working while we think of better ways to do it, c) a hacker coder ie. someone that writes badly thrown together code that never works reliably and is in constant need of fixes. When did "hackspace" and other similar words take on positive meanings?

    1. Surely 'hack' was meant positively until the media took it over and demonised 'hacking'. To my mind, the word is now being reclaimed.

  2. Decades ago. MIT hacker culture (one of the modern roots of this usage) dates to the 1970s and in some form earlier, and has been extremely influential. The use of "hacker" in a nonpejorative sense has been widespread in some parts of software development (notably the free software community which sprung in part from, again, MIT) from the 1980s onwards.

    A bunch of my friends are hackers, though impostor syndrome prevents me calling myself one much. We are all of one mind on this: creating stuff is fun. Breaking into stuff is *boring*, even if it wasn't often also selfish and pointlessly destructive.

    Maybe if you like bug hunting more than everything else in the field, it might be more your cup of tea, but it certainly isn't mine. I have enough trouble tracking down my own bugs...

  3. I spend my days writing bugs by accident (while writing code), finding mine and other people's bugs, and writing work arounds in firmware for hardware that doesn't work the way it's supposed to. If anyone told me I'm a hacker I would be offended, I'm a professional.

    MIT hacker culture is precisely what I am talking about. It produced a lot of bodged together badly designed and written code, and we're still paying the price for much of it today. Including many of the more stupid design aspects of the C language and its runtime libraries.

    Sorry, hacker culture not something to be proud of. Stop throwing crap together quickly and do the job properly instead is the way I've always approached things.

  4. I did not submit my comment twice. Submitting by Google Account on this occasion prompted for my password, I am assuming somehow that caused two submissions,


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