I bought an Ambient Orb yesterday to play around with. It’s a pretty cool little thingy, but there are problems. If you just wanted to use it for keeping track of your stocks, I guess it would be okay but the problem is that the updates can happen up to 30 minutes apart. I had originally thought it would be cool to use the orb to monitor my web traffic, or status of the web server or something, but with updates that far apart, most likely I’ve already found the problem and fixed it before the Orb finds out.
Ambient is willing to sell you a serial kit, so you can send commands instantly, and quickly for $40, and they are even cool enough to supply a schematic so you can built it yourself if you like, but that removes the cool wireless aspect.
The ideal solution would be to find a way to reprogram the cap code in the pager inside, or even just find it out so you could send commands over the pager network. I’m still working on that facet. I can’t find a data sheet for the pager module that Ambient used in the Orb so as of now that’s a limiting factor. I know who makes it, but they are pretending they didn’t 🙂
This all came about because I decided to build an Orb. I got interested in the Orb the other day while browsing around and decided it would be a fun project. I’m using an Atmel AVR Mega 8 to control it and send PWM to discrete red, green and blue LEDs. Mine looks decent, but I was having trouble finding a good way to mix the colors. I was also just generally curious about how they did it, so I decided to buy the real thing and take it apart, which I did.
Hmm. More later. Tired now.