Posts Tagged ‘python

Hacking Planet Atwood with Python and AWS

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Peter Atwood is a hobbyist who creates limited edition pocket tools and puts them up for sale on his site at Planet Pocket Tool.  His tools are fairly popular and being limited are hard to acquire.

Peter posts the sales randomly and the tools generally sell out within a few minutes of being listed.  The best way to capture a sale is to periodically check his site and get alerted when a sale is in progress.  This write-up is about automating the check and sending an alert via SMS and email using Python.

Blogspot publishes a RSS feed for their blogs.  I wrote a simple function to use feedparser to grab the datetime of the first item in the feed and compare it against the previous version.  I send out an alert if the datetime of the first item is different from the one I have saved.

#Get the blog entry
feed = feedparser.parse('')

#Figure out the publish time of the first entry
firstEntryPubTime = time.strftime('%Y%m%d%H%M%S', feed.entries[0].published_parsed)

#The newest post time did not match the previously saved post time
#We have a new post
if firstEntryPubTime != currentUpdateTime:

    #Save the new first blog entry time
    url = feed.entries[0].link
    subject = 'Atwood: ' + feed.entries[0].title
    body = url + feed.entries[0].summary

    #Send an alert
    send_alert(subject, body, url)

    print "No Update"

Now, to send the alert we leverage Amazon Web Services and BOTO the AWS Python interface. Amazon has a service called Simple Notification Service or SNS. SNS is a push service that lets users push messages in various formats like SMS and email.

Getting started is simple. First create a topic to which people can subscribe using create_topic. Then subscribe your phone number, email address, and any other form of communication using subscribe. Now you are all set.

def send_alert(message_title, message_body, message_url):
    #Connect with boto using the AWS token and secret key
    c = boto.connect_sns('token','secret_key')
    topicarn = "arn:aws:sns:us-east-1:TopicName"
    #Publish or send out the URL of the blog post for quick clicking
    publication = c.publish(topicarn, url, subject=url[:110])
    #Close connection

I set up this script on a server at DigitalOcean and ran it periodically using cron. I was able to get to the buy link for most of Atwood’s sales with this methodology and eventually bought a Fancy Ti Atwrench. While nice and well made, it is definitely not worth what Peter Atwood charges for it.

Written by M Kapoor

June 10, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Driving Adafruit’s RGB Matrix with Python on the BeagleBone Black

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I wrote this code to drive the Adafruit 32×64 RGB Matrix using a Beaglebone Black and Adafruit’s IO Python library.  The code is super simple – it writes a static color background to the top and bottom halves of the display through the shift registers and triggers the latch.  It then iterates through the addresses so the LEDs for that row turn on and then goes to the next address.  This should create a background color through persistence of vision.

Along the way I discovered:

The Python Library isn’t fast enough to drive the RGB matrix to provide a persistent display.  There is flicker and when updating colors, you see each row turn on and off.  You literally see the delay.  There are ways to speed up the writes by using the PRU or direct IO writes.  But I should not have to do that on a 1GHz processor.

The RGB matrix doesn’t light up unless you continually change the address.  This was really annoying when I was figuring things out.  I did not find this documented anywhere on the web except on rayslogic’s RGB writeup.

It appears the BeagleBone Black’s IO pins cannot push enough current to turn on the input schmitt triggers.  I spent a lot of time being frustrated because I couldn’t get the green and blue LEDs to light up on my board.
Finally I noticed the green LEDs were barely on and had a brightness gradient from low to high address.  My guess is the address pin was barely turning on which meant 0 was the most common address – hence the higher brightness on the lower rows.  I got around this by plugging the G(reen) input directly into the 5V pin on the BeagleBone Black.  Of course this now meant the green LEDs are always on!

Adafruit charges too much for the RGB panels.  For example, the seller kbellenterprises on ebay has a 16×32 RGB matrix for $16 including shipping.  Adafruit has the same panel for $25 and you pay for shipping.

Adafruit charges too much for male-to-male jumper wires.  The seller funny-diy on ebay sells 40 for $1.80 with shipping while Adafruit charges $4+shipping for their so-called “premium” wires.  Adafruit needs to rename them to “premium-priced“.

My Python Code:



Written by M Kapoor

April 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm