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Home – Nanospark http://www.nanospark.com Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds Tue, 20 Dec 2016 22:02:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.21 http://www.nanospark.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/cropped-Small-NS-logo-2Cx2C-32x32.png Home – Nanospark http://www.nanospark.com 32 32 Nanospark: Machine Monitor http://www.nanospark.com/nanospark-machine-monitor/ Tue, 20 Dec 2016 21:11:48 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=2544 Our first, and very versatile commercial product was Nanospark: Machine Monitor. Ideal applications are CNC Machines, 3D Printers, Plastic production machinery, Air compressors.

Below are some of the key features of this machine event monitoring tool.

For more information about the Machine Monitor you can download the datasheet. Or see our product website (www.Machine-Monitor.com) which has installation instructions, application notes and the monitor for sale.

Photo Monitor in Home Office http://www.nanospark.com/photo-monitor-in-home-office/ Thu, 29 Oct 2015 18:02:56 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=2120 Hey guys,
Thought you might like to see how I’m using your Photo Monitor (or maybe I just like showing off my little projects ūüôā ). I work out of my home in a backyard shed that I converted into an office. My work puts me in touch with a fair amount of technology, so I lock my office when I’m not in it. But a little more security would be a good thing. I came across your photo monitor and liked how easily I could set this little “security camera” up.

I especially like that I get an email of the picture when it’s taken. So if I’m out and about I’ll be notified immediately if there’s a problem.

Found a door sensor on Adafruit for cheap. And thanks again for graciously discounting your system so I could use my own leftover tablet that I already had here.

The install was pretty easy: ran the wires from the door sensor to one of the inputs and +3.3V on the hardware. Then, put the hardware close to my power strip. I added an LED between the input and GND so it lights up when the door is closed (gratuitous, but lights are pretty). The little wall mount bracket for the hardware was a nice touch.

I’ve had it installed now for about a week and so far so good! Thanks again guys.


Wall bracket
Door Sensor

Nanospark: Photo Monitor http://www.nanospark.com/nanospark-photo-monitor/ Fri, 02 Oct 2015 20:37:27 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=1772 We’d like to let you know about the latest app we’ve developed and how you can use it. We’re calling it Nanospark: Photo Monitor.

Nanospark: Photo Monitor was developed to fill a need in our parent company’s manufacturing facility.¬† We have a test procedure for our capillary switches which are designed to trip at specific temperatures.¬† To confirm that they are calibrated correctly, they are tested in a heated oil bath.¬† A photo is¬†taken¬†of a thermal probe’s display of the oil bath’s temperature when the switch is tripped (open and closed).

This process of taking a picture when a switch opens or closes has many and varied uses. For instance, with a magnetic reed switch, take a picture on entry/exit through a door or take an inspection photo when a part reaches a certain point on the production line.

With plenty of applications for it, we thought we’d put it out there for others to use as well.¬† The Nanospark: Photo Monitor app is available as a free download through Google Play Store. The app features:

  • Live monitoring of 10 digital inputs (switches)
  • Custom naming prefix for photo¬†filename (photos are stored locally for review or export)
  • Batch¬†or Continuous monitoring modes
  • Receive Text message notification on batch completion
  • Automatically email photos as they’re taken

Here are some screenshots:

What about hardware to connect the switches and the app? In our online store you can find hardware to use with your Nanospark: Photo Monitor. The package includes:

  • Nanospark: Developer hardware
  • 7″ Android tablet with front and rear facing cameras
  • 3′ USB cable, male to micro b
  • 5V/3A power adapter

You will need to supply the sensors or switches which will trigger the photo. Or feel free to contact us and we can work with you to provide a complete system according to your needs.

Nanospark (Android version) http://www.nanospark.com/nanospark-android-version/ Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:11:18 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=1902 The first Nanospark controller and products were made¬†using¬†Apple tablets and phones- primarily the iPod touch.¬† However, we now¬†have taken this same solution set¬†(tablet+hardware) into the world of Android.¬†¬†We will continue to support the Apple-based Nanospark’s in the field but¬†will develop new products centered on the Android version.


The heart of Nanospark’s Android products is the IOIO-OTG board.¬† The IOIO (pronounced yo-yo) board brings more and varied I/O to the table, expanding the solutions we can offer our OEM customers and the products we can develop.¬† The chart below shows the configuration options for 46 GPIO.¬† The board also has GND ports along with 3.3V and 5V power supply pins. IOIO board

Using an app on a tablet as the brains of a system is very¬†useful as it allows for great flexibility, intuitive user interaction, and inherently makes features available that would otherwise require additional, and possibly costly, hardware and software.¬† However,¬†for communication and power, the tablet must¬†be connected to the hardware which, in some scenarios, could be a negative.¬† With our¬†Apple version, the iPod touch¬†had a 1 foot tether to the hardware but for our Android version that tether (by USB cable) can increase up to¬†10 feet.¬† This proved advantageous with our Machine Monitor, allowing the hardware to be placed in a machine’s control cabinet while that tablet is easily accessed from the side or front of the machine.

Our Android version can also connect tablet to hardware though Bluetooth; further increasing tablet and hardware placement options.


At this time, our focus is using Nanospark to create specific products rather than making a general development app as we did with the Apple version.  So far we have made:

  • Nanospark: Machine Monitor
  • . This monitors production machinery, helping manufacturers get more production time from their machines. Machine Monitor helps to reduce downtime by sending out text message or email alerts based on what’s happening with the machine and by generating regular machine utilization reports.

  • Nanospark: Photo Monitor. Need a picture taken when a switch turns on, or some other trigger? This is the app for you. Contact us for hardware assistance.
  • Paladin by Nanospark is an garage door management system which takes your existing garage door opener and adds 9 smart features- like controlling your garage door(s) from your phone..


In addition to our own products, we’re¬†using our Android version for controls on OEM products.¬† Nanospark may replace switches and dials with a touch screen interface, while at the same time opening the door to advanced features¬†like interactive user manuals or replacement part ordering right from the machine.¬† OEMs may find that Nanospark is a good fit¬†for their¬†new products as well.

Tablet + hardware is a valuable solution set by which we provide manufacturers and consumers feature rich solutions in easy-to-use packages. Give us a call and tell us what you’d like Nanospark to do for you.


Digital Timer Switch | Universal Equipment Timer http://www.nanospark.com/digital-equipment-timer/ Fri, 04 Oct 2013 19:36:54 +0000 http://nanospark.com/?p=605 Purchase your Nanospark (Read why you should below.)

How can you use the scheduling feature of the Nanospark Controller app to manage the equipment in your facility?

Through the scheduling tab of the Nanospark Controller app¬†(free on iTunes), you’re able to control when outputs turn on and off.¬† In the demo below we’ve scheduled events for a coffee maker, a hot plate,¬†a motor to crack the egg and an actuator for¬†the toaster. ¬†Perhaps it’s a bit whimsical to have¬†breakfast prepared for you while on your way to work- but imagine the real possibilities as an equipment timer.

Imagine your compressors and conveyors- your whole facility if you like, coming to life 5 minutes before the shift starts.

Imagine being certain that the ovens or the lights are off while your facility is empty.

Nanospark makes this a reality.  The really awesome part- a single Nanospark can manage up to 10 pieces of equipment!  And it does so with a clean, easy to use interface and remote access and control built in.

It’s not just your phone that’s smart- Nanospark makes your whole facility smart!

Industrial Automation Processes – Ice Cream Cup Lids http://www.nanospark.com/industrial-automation-ice-cream/ Fri, 23 Aug 2013 13:06:57 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=535 I’m excited to share with you all a project that is getting close to completion. ¬†A local dairy approached us asking us to help them with an annoying part of their production process- placing the lids on cups filled with ice cream.

Nanospark was a perfect fit!  There are three JMP contact switches wired to digital inputs to confirm equipment and cup location.  Five digital outputs trigger solenoids (through an 8-channel, 5V relay board) to actuate cylinders and a vacuum pump which place the lid on the cup, and rotary valves which move the cup through the system.

Finally, in it’s assembled form, the controlling iPod touch’s camera (using Nanospark’s Colour Detection) will confirm lid placement before sending the cup to packaging.

industrial automation

Ice Cream Lid Placement System

In the video below you see the outputs being manually turned on/off with the Nanospark Controller app.

This is a good example of how to use Nanospark for R&D.  To add some logic and automate the system we write a simple app using the Nanospark and Colour Detector frameworks as a foundation.

The Intuitive Digital Timer | Nanospark http://www.nanospark.com/programmable-digital-timer/ Tue, 20 Aug 2013 22:54:42 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=473 Purchase your Nanospark (Read why you should below.)

Programmable Digital Timer | Nanospark

Check out this feature of the Nanospark Controller app– Scheduling. The programmable digital timer allows you to set when you want certain outputs to come on or off.

There certainly are digital timers out there, so why use Nanospark in this way? ¬†Because it’s Versatile, Centralized, and Intuitive. ¬†Nanospark can act as a digital timer for up to ten different pieces of equipment; even if they run off varied voltages. ¬†And the interface to set and manage the scheduled events is simple and clear.

What happens if you need to interrupt a programmed event? ¬†From the Digital or Analog tab turn on or off the output in question. ¬†This will override the scheduled event, which can resume when you re-enable it. ¬†If you’ve setup remote interaction, you can even shut things down (or turn them on) from a remote location.

How will you use Nanospark scheduling function?

timer application, programmable digital timer

Many events can be created to turn on and off equipment tied into a single Nanospark Controller.

Do you have an oven that needs to come up to temp before employees can begin their work?  Schedule the oven to come on a half-hour before the employee walks in the door; and only on work days.

Do you want the air compressors, lights, water pumps, etc on so the shop is humming when your crew arrives?  Do you want to ensure that everything shuts downs safely when the shop is empty?  Wire your equipment, set the schedule, and voilà- your facility is ready for action when you are!

programmable digital timer

Scheduling: Selecting dates and times






[Here’s a look at the complete Event Details.]

Learn more about this programmable digital timer.

Remote Access and Control via Text Messaging http://www.nanospark.com/industrial-remote-control-systems/ Wed, 24 Jul 2013 14:20:27 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=411 Purchase your Nanospark (Read why you should below.)

Industrial Remote Control Systems via Text Messaging

Can you imagine owning a TV without a remote?  Or not being able to retrieve important information wherever you may be.  How indispensable remote access and control is!

Using Twilio’s global text messaging API, we’ve integrated into the Nanospark Controller app¬†SMS communication with the Nanospark board. ¬†Using Nanospark’s remote access and control capabilities you can find out the status of sensors wired to the inputs and activate equipment connected to outputs- with a text message. ¬†A distinct advantage, therefore, is that you can communicate with your equipment anywhere you can get a phone signal.

Watch a video demo of this in action

The help menu (under the settings tab of the Nanospark app) lists the four commands that can be texted: On, Off, Status (of i/o or device), Status (system).  By making an app to work with Nanospark and Twilio, you can expand on these basic commands to make interaction easier.  For instance, the app could assign commands to a button or a more intuitive string of text.

remote access and control, industrial remote control systems

Nanospark Controller App text messaging settings. Input account information, and rename inputs and outputs. Input SMS messaging information, and rename the inputs and outputs according to the equipment you’ll be controlling by text message.

In house we’re using the SMS functionality to allow employees who come in early to unlock the front door¬†via text message. ¬†The employee sends a text with his username and password; essentially “digitaloutput1 on”. ¬†The “Door Man” app we built for this receives the text, compares the username and password to the profiles that have been setup and either lets the “on” command through or rejects it. ¬†In either case a return message is sent to the employee.

With an app you could also do things with data received by status requests. ¬†Perhaps you have a temperature probe connected to AnalogInput3. ¬†When you send a text of “What’s the oven temp?”, the app replies “X¬įF”. ¬†In actuality the app translated “what’s the oven temp” as “Call valueForChannel3” (using the board manager instance). ¬†The resulting value, lets say, is 2.6 volts. ¬†The app then runs a formula to convert 2.6 volts to degrees Fahrenheit and shows you “X¬įF”.

We’re quite happy to have found Twilio and to be able to integrate it with Nanospark. ¬†Here’s a link to Twilio’s free trial. ¬†We hope you find it quite useful in the systems you build using Nanospark.

Color Detector – Nanospark Colour Detector App http://www.nanospark.com/color-detector/ Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:27:14 +0000 http://www.nanospark.com/?p=391 Purchase your Nanospark (Read why you should below.)

One thing we like to highlight about Nanospark is how with it we can use the features on iOS devices to work with whatever sensor or actuator is wired to the Nansopark Controller.  A perfect example of this is the Colour Detector.  This is an app we developed to use the camera on your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad as the foundation for a low-cost vision system.

Like other color detecting apps it uses the camera to gather the RGB and HSV values of whatever is in the target area of the camera feed.  However, Colour Detector takes things to the next level in a few ways.  First of all, it lets you re-size and relocate the target area within the camera selection view, so you can zero in on exactly what you want to evaluate.

color detector

Colour Detector does more than read RGB and HSV of the camera feed, it uses those values to trigger digital outputs according to what the feed sees.

In addition to seeing and reporting the RGB, the app allows you to set the values you expect to see and alerts you as to whether the target area is within that spec.  For instance, in the picture below since the black transistor missing, the color RGB average of the target area changes.  The app alerts you to this, in the output display, with a green (in spec) or red (out of spec) visual cue.

The most powerful feature is the connection of the camera feed with outputs on the Nanospark Controller. ¬†I’m writing this on a warm summer day, so lets imagine we have cups of ice cream coming down a conveyor. ¬†An iPod touch is placed above the conveyor after the lids are put on, watching for any missed lids. ¬†The value for output 1 on the Colour Detector app is set to watch for a brown and white lid. ¬†The app flashes green in the output display and plays a melodic ding for the first 150 cups that pass by. ¬†As Colour Detector watches cup 151 (without a lid) go by it flashes red, and activates a cylinder, which deftly pushes cup 151 onto a reject chute, where an operator is waiting to correct the problem (spoon in hand?).

You may enjoy seeing Nanospark’s Colour Detector in action on YouTube: