Thursday, October 7, 2010

Build a dishwashing surveillance system

Every once in while I spend an afternoon or evening just browsing eBay. I do some searches on keywords concerning things that may interest me and I look through the results. When I find something interesting I click on the item for more details. Often I come across items that are sold by Chinese companies that sell lots of other things too. These are my favorite sellers. There are many Chinese eBay shops that sell exactly the same products, they probably are all related, but every once in a while I discover a new “family” of shops with different products.

My latest find is a series of cheap microcontroller boards equipped with a small camera and a 2.8” color TFT display. The camera, 640x320 pixels, is actually a small module that is plugged on top of the board, while the display (320x240 pixels, 262K colors) sits on the other side. You can make a camcorder out of it, because it has a micro SD card connector for storage.

I bought the ATmega32 board including a USBasp ISP programming cable for less than 35 euros (shipping included). It is a complete development system with full documentation and source code in C (with comments in garbage characters, probably Chinese). When it arrived I discovered that the display even has a resistive touchpad on it.

Here is a sneak preview of my killer app for this board: a dishwashing surveillance system that checks my dishwashing qualities. It will detect dirt on the dishes and sound an alarm when everything is dry. Pretty cool, huh?

So, what will you do with it?


  1. Funny, thought it was April 1st ;)
    I am curious how you will distinguish dirt from texture ...

  2. I will train the system so that it knows the textures of my dishes, pots & pans.