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A WiFi-based interface for Makers that allows you to control your device from your Smartphone, iPod, iPad or PC.

It's clear that we won't make our funding goal through Kick Starter but we're committied to getting the UConTroll to market. We've just placed an order with our manufacturer and expect to start shipping on October 1st. You can place an order through our web site http://www.UConTroll.com and receive the presale price of $99. Prices will increase after October 1st. 

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Do you have a great idea for a Maker project but need someway to control it?  Imagine controlling your TV with your iPad, closing your garage door from your office computer, controlling your robots and toys with your iPod, or receiving a text message when someone goes down your driveway.  Maybe you'd like to design a Home Automation system that has the features you really want, or build the ultimate Halloween Haunt or Holiday Light controller! You can do all this, and more, with the uConTroll - the Ultimate Maker Interface

The uConTroll is a WiFi-enabled board that you can connect to your devices to monitor & control them using the web browser in your smartphone, iPod, tablet or PC.  You can take full advantage of your browser's graphics, computer's mouse, tablet's touch screen, and your iPod's tilt & orientation sensors.  

The uConTroll also features a powerful Automation Engine that allows you to change outputs, output commands or send messages when events occur, or at a particular time.  For example, it can send you a message when your garage door is opened or it detects water in your basement.  You can also have it post info to Facebook or Twitter, or to any other web site.  Or use it to control props in your Halloween Haunt.

All of your configuration data and web pages are stored on a micro-SD card, making the uConTroll simple to configure and update.  Use the built-in web pages to setup the uConTroll, or update your files off-line and copy them to your SD card.  You can quickly re-purpose the UConTroll by simply changing memory cards.

 Features

The uConTroll is built around a Microchip PIC24 series processor with more than 30 I/O lines available for your application.  Pins can be configured for a variety of uses: Digital I/O, Analog Input, Variable Frequency, Pulse Width Modulation, Counters, infrared and Serial I/O to name a few.  

WiFi support is provided by an industrial grade WiFi radio that is FCC certified and supports all standard security types including WEP, WPA & WPA2. And the WiFi can configured for Ad Hoc or Infrastructure mode so you can access the UConTroll from your home network, or link directly to it when you're not near a WiFi network. 

The uConTroll is low power so you can run it off of batteries, or you can use an AC/DC converter. Check out the uConTroll web site for a list of all of the uConTroll's features: http://www.uConTroll.com?About.com

Connecting Your Device to the uConTroll

To monitor a switch or relay closure just connect it to one of the uConTroll's input pins.  DC signals up to 5 volts can be connected directly to its input pins.  The uConTroll's outputs can directly drive low-voltage, low-current devices.  To drive higher voltages or currents you can use relays, opto-isolators or level-shifters.  

All I/O pins are brought out to a connector and a prototype area is available for you to add your own components. The uConTroll.com web site will show you how to connect all types of devices; even if you don't have any experience with electronics. 

On-line Support System

To help you get the most out of your UConTroll we'll have an on-line support system that includes sample code, libraries, tutorials and a forum where members can share applications and information. Want to learn how to use the orientation and tilt  features of your iPad; check out our tutorials. Have a cool project idea; post it on the site.  Need help designing your project; ask questions on the forum.  As we add new features and functions to the uConTroll we'll post updated firmware on the site as well.  Just copy the files to your micro-SD card and insert it into your uConTroll to update it.

How It Works

The microcontroller  on the uConTroll board runs a web server (just like Google or eBay's) that has built-in commands to monitor and control the micro-controller's  inputs and outputs - which you connect to your device.  When you browse to the uConTroll it serves web pages that are displayed in your browser.  

Your web pages can contain HTML code, buttons, input boxes, images, JavaScript - any web content. You can even embed another web page, like Google Maps or a live video stream into your web page.  When you perform an action, like clicking a button, your browser sends a command to the uConTroll which then executes it. If you're using a tablet or other device that supports orientation or tilt sensing you can trigger off of those events. Here are a few of the commands the uConTroll will support:

Since your application is web-based, programming is simple. Many applications can be created in just a few lines of HTML code.  The web site will have  JavaScript libraries that provides all the functions you need to interface with the uConTroll.

The automation features of the UConTroll you configured using the built-in web page.  You can define events and what action to take for each event.  You can have the UConTroll set output bits, send serial commands, send Emails, post data to a web site, etc. 

You can combine the automation features with the web-based remote control to build really powerful systems. For example, you could program it to send you a text  message when it detects your garage door is open. When you get the message on your smartphone, you can open a browser and view a live video feed of your house.  Then click a button on the screen  to close the door.  Or you can use the Automation engine to control your Halloween Haunt and use the web interface to set operating parameters, or manually control props.

Connecting to the uConTroll

You can connect the uControll do any Wi-Fi network - it supports all common security protocols including WEP and WPA.  Once it's connected to your network, you  can control the uConTroll using any web enabled device on your network. You can also control the uConTroll from anywhere in the world via the Internet. If you want to control a device that is not located near an existing Wi-Fi network you can connect to the uConTroll using Ad Hoc mode - a direct link  between 2 devices. This is useful when your you're out in the field launching a rocket, or controlling an RC vehicle. 

What's the Project Status - How will the funds be used?

Using boards and software from some of the projects I've developed in my consulting business, we've assembled a couple proof-of-concept prototypes.  Using those prototypes, we've built several different projects to showcase the capabilities of the UConTroll - most of them featured in our video.

The funds raised from the campaign will be used to have the PC Board layout done,  develop the web site to support the project, and to manufacture the units that will be rewarded to contributors.  

UConTroll Prototype Board - Rev B.
UConTroll Prototype Board - Rev B.

What's Included

The top-level reward will be a professionally assembled and tested UConTroll board that will be preloaded with software. You will need to supply a source of power (battery or AC/DC power supply), a mciro SD card, and any interface components required to connect your device to the UConTroll. 

How and Where will they be Made?

The PCB boards will be manufacturered and assembled by a local contract assembly house on a state-of-the-art SMT fabrication line.  I prefer to use local resources so that I can visit them during assembly to check on the quality and resolve any issues in person. 

Rewards

All contributors will be listed on our web site.  A contribution of $15 or more earns you access to the member area of our web site where you'll have access to code, project ideas, and the user's forum. A contribution of $25 will also get you a uConTroll T-shirt featuring our Troll mascot.  And a contribution of $100 will get you an assembled uConTroll board.  Priority shipping to USA destinations is included.

FAQ

  • Actually it’s both, and that’s what makes it so powerful. You can manually turn things on or off, or control devices using your browser. The automation engine will allow you to setup the UConTroll to automatically control devices at specific times, or when certain events occur. For example, say you have the UConTroll set up to automate your heating, but you’re home one workday when the heat would be set to low. You can use your web browser to override the automatic setting and turn the heat on.

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  • Absolutely, I’ve been building Halloween haunted houses for a few years now, and that was one of my motivations for designing the UConTroll. Using the built-in web pages, you can very easily configure it to automate your entire event without any programming. And, using the remote control capabilities of its web server, you can manually activate props or set variables that control your automation.

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  • No. The UConTroll has a web server built into it and it serves web pages to your browser – just like Facebook or KickStarter. Your device is controlled through those web pages; just about anything you could do with an App you can do through the web pages. However, if there’s a reason you’d prefer to use an App, your App can communicate with the UConTroll using HTTP.

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  • No, you don’t need to learn programming for most applications. All of the automation events are configured through the built-in web pages. Using drop-downs, you determine what’s constitutes a trigger (change in inputs, time, change in a variable, etc.) and what outputs that effects. For remote control using a web browser you can use HTML code to layout your page and have it send commands to the UConTroll when a button is pressed or your device is tilted. If you want to add logic to your page you can do that using JavaScript. For example, if a user has to click a button to enable the tilt controls. We’ll have plenty examples of how to create those pages and sample JavaScript for doing common tasks.

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    RECOGNITION - Your Name on our contributors lists and a Big Thank You!

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