Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/02/ninja_blocks_do_for_home_automation_what_raspberry_pi_does_for_programming/

Hackers print tiny Linux box to net up your home

Ninja Block does for automation what Raspberry Pi does for coding

By Tony Smith

Posted in Hardware, 2nd March 2012 11:53 GMT

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer designed to get you writing programs. Here's a tiny computer designed to get things done in your home and out of it without writing a single line of code.

Called the Ninja Block, it's an open source hardware gadget running Linux that's designed to accept feeds from external sensors - it has some on board too, including a thermometer and an accelerometer - and route the data to the web.

Ninja Block and motion sensor

Prototype Ninja Block (right) with a motion sensor

You use the web-hosted control system, called Ninja Cloud, to set up simple rules to trigger web services and devices connected to a Ninja Block, based on the incoming signals. It's largely done with drag and drop.

Inputs can come from the web too - Xbox Live sign ins, files arriving in your Dropbox, incoming Tweets, Facebook mentions - and even from Apple's Siri voice control tech.

Each Ninja Block has an Ethernet port for connectivity and a simple LED for feedback. Reference schematics for the hardware have been posted online under a Creative Commons licence. It's based on the Beagle Bone board.

Ninja Blocks' Beagle Bone mobo

The Beagle Bone board

The Block connects to other sensors through its four expansion ports, and there are specs for that too. The guys behind Ninja Block are working on an initial array of humidity, motion, light, sound and distance sensors, plus a simple push button trigger.

You can also connect by USB, or reserve that for a Wi-Fi dongle. You can add controllers too, such as infrared beamers.

And just to keep the tech cutting edge, the Block and its sensors come in a 3D printed casing. It's driven by a 5V power supply, but could be rigged up with batteries for outdoors and mobile applications.

Ninja Block and Ninja Cloud

You code the Ninja Block through 'if... then' rules entered on a web page

The Ninja team is currently taking orders for Ninja Blocks through pledges made on find-me-funding site Kickstarter - the more you pledge, the more kit - and other goodies - you get. Ninja Blocks ship their kit internationally. ®