WiFi Massager With Electric Imp

Posted: February 4, 2013


A few years ago when I was working on the Linksys Copter project I was on a quest to find some small, powerful brushed motors. A hobby store recommended a Mabuchi RS-380, so I was looking into those and some of the other motors on the Mabuchi site when I found a data sheet for their RS-360 model. At the top of their PDF they list "typical applications" which I found a little surprising. So just for laughs, after I found the motors I did want, I took an extra RS-380 that wasn't able to spin my propellers fast enough and epoxied a magnet to one side of the shaft. To make it more amusing, I went to the hardware store and bought plastic pipe meant to go into a toilet or something to house the vibrating motor.

So a couple months ago I was looking for a little WiFi unit to use in my WiFi Car project and while browsing electronic stores online I came across the Electric Imp. My first thought was "wow, an SD card with an ARM and Wifi", but I quickly realized this is not really an SD card, it just fits in the same slot. The pins are I/O pins and a computer would not be able to see this thing. I then found out that the way it's programmed is on their web site and has to be programmed over the Internet using a scripting language (when it comes to micros, I'm a pure assembly guy other than my Propeller Poker and a dsPIC project in C). So I lost interest and bought a different WiFi module instead.

Over the next couple months I tried to resist buying the Imp, but the idea was starting to sound interesting so I finally gave in and picked one up. I was trying to think of something interesting to test the thing out with other than a boring blinking LED, and I remembered I had my motor and pipe. The only thing that was left was a small circuit and a little bit of code. I originally wanted to make it joystick controlled like the WiFi car for changing the speed of the motor, but I was worried about spamming the Imp's webservers.

So about the whole Electric Imp development kit... I have to say I didn't expect much out of this thing, but it actually was pretty neat. Their web interface and API is pretty slick and it was pretty easy to set up. I wasn't too excited about the whole programming in the cloud idea and not having a direct connection to the device from my own network, but then in this case it has a huge advantage. Because both the Imp and the controlling device connect into the cloud to communicate instead of directly, no firewall can stop my plumbing junk from vibrating.

Unfortunately, this project has never been used because I don't have a girl to test this on. I was kind of hoping this would be like the movie Field Of Dreams: if you build it, she will come. :)


A little demo of it working. I used my iPad instead of a PC so I could hold the camera and motor at the same time while I push on the screen (which still proves difficult for me :( ). Unfortunately, the bright screen isn't visible on the camera.

It may be hard to tell but I'm adjusting the speed of the motor with the web interface.


WiFi massager

Here's the circuit board with the motor attached. I used some wire from the inside of a networking cable along with some jumper wires so I could easily connect and disconnect it.

WiFi massager

Here the motor is installed inside the plumbing pipe with the cap off.

WiFi massager schematic

And here's the schematic...

Source code

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