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Building an open source Nest (spark.io)
621 points by simonbarker87 90 days ago | comments


imroot 90 days ago | link

I've just built something very similar to this last weekend -- For around $43/sensor (Raspberry Pi Model B, DigiSpark, and 1-Wire Temperature Sensor) I made 20 of these for my home, farm, and hackerspace for temperature logging. I did this because we're getting another 'polar vortex' next week and the cows don't like it if it's colder than 20 degrees out.

This allows me to measure the temperature inside, outside, and get the relative humidity (not nearly as accurate as the $20 honeywell sensor that they're using, but, it's close enough for my needs). I then built a simple website using mrtg (for temperature trending) and a ruby script that checks the temperatures versus what the set points are and mounted the raspberry pi's in various locations around my places.

My "Controller" nodes are a beagleboard with a 4 or 8 channel relay board attached that allow me to turn on or off the individual controls on the furnace. It works well with my two stage heat pump and fan at my home, but, I need some work to get it 100% at the hackerspace and at the farm.

I mainly did this because I needed something that allowed me to cover more rooms than the Nest (and I'm adding duct dampers and fans to my heating system, so I can selectively heat and cool more rooms to better temperatures).

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simplekoala 90 days ago | link

When you get a chance, would you be kind to write a "how to" blog post about how to build and wire one yourself, so others without any clue about how to do this can have a shot at learning and doing it themselves?

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robbiep 90 days ago | link

Seconded (even though I would never have a use for it in Australia!) - sounds like a fantastic project, congrats

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joshmlewis 90 days ago | link

Third-ed! Very interesting stuff.

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tcdent 90 days ago | link

As a software developer aspiring to be a farmer, you don't see much overlap. Thanks for the inspiration.

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patcheudor 88 days ago | link

My warning to you and anyone else thinking of building a thermostat for an HVAC system with a gas furnace:

https://community.sparkdevices.com/t/burning-down-the-house/...

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shmikshmak 90 days ago | link

What is the DigiSpark for? Is the Pi's IO not enough? How are you networking them?

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imroot 90 days ago | link

The biggest thing that I had against using the Pi's GPIO pins were that they're really unforgiving, and only ran on 3.3v. My One-Wire sensor (http://datasheets.maximintegrated.com/en/ds/DS18B20.pdf) Needed 5 Volts, and that's something that the DigiSpark gave me with no issues. I literally soldered pins 1 and 3 to the +5 and Ground pins on the back of the digispark, pin 2 to the I/O5 on the digispark, and ran a 4.7K resistor across the front from +5 to Pin 5 for my pull up resistor -- stupid easy to do and a squirt of epoxy made everything electrically tight.

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mcescalante 90 days ago | link

Beaglebone might have served you better since it sounds like you actually needed some control stuff. I've found it's got better GPIO, PWM, etc. options for projects that require them.

That, or a put together a nice board that you can plug into the RPi to interface better with it maybe :)

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imroot 89 days ago | link

I'm working on building a desktop CNC machine so that I can mill out and drill the holes for my projects...I'm hoping to have this done mid-year, but we'll see.

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grinich 90 days ago | link

Funny-- the first Nest thermostat prototypes were also built with acrylic and wood. (I used to work there.)

I always hoped they would switch back to wood, but it's incredibly hard to do right in mass manufacturing.

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ama729 90 days ago | link

> but it's incredibly hard to do right in mass manufacturing.

Any particular reason? From the outside, wood seem easier to use than plastic.

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kitcar 90 days ago | link

Wood is basically more expensive than plastic for mass-manufactured items. The basic raw material is more expensive. You can't source a large volume of aesthetically-identical pieces, so its harder to produce identical items. You can't injection mold wood, so higher manufacturing costs.

There are "manufactured" woods which address many of these issues, but they also tend not to be deemed as beautiful / strong as the real thing.

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swalsh 90 days ago | link

As a hobby woodworker, i'd love to be able to buy the parts, and make the enclosure myself. I got some scraps of walnut that would look awesome.

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jsilence 89 days ago | link

Well, you can buy the parts for the spark version.

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adestefan 90 days ago | link

There is also a lot of waste when using wood.

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pistle 90 days ago | link

You can't beat polymers for consistency, finishing, handling, tooling, durability, etc. For each friction point with wood, you could create dynamic systems to alleviate the pain or you could just start with materials designed for scale.

The future is not made of wood.

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huhtenberg 90 days ago | link

  -  I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
  -  Yes, sir.
  -  Are you listening?
  -  Yes, I am.
  -  Plastics.

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billforsternz 90 days ago | link

Nice. It's a quote from "The Graduate" in case there's anyone puzzled by this. Career advice from a wise grey head to the young Dustin Hoffman character.

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yardie 90 days ago | link

The future is mountains of plastic.

One of the good things about wood is you don't have to worry about it sticking around for 1000+ years. The problem with plastics is most of it can't be recycled. Not the way we think of recycling.

Aluminum cans are melted down and turned back into aluminum cans. Polymers are ground up and injection molded into lower grade polymers. Once too many polymer chains get broken the grade is too low to be usable.

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Kliment 90 days ago | link

Careful polymer selection can work around that. PLA can be digested back into starch by an enzyme or composted at high temperature. There are plastics that can be cleanly incinerated or ground up and embedded in concrete mixes as insulation. You can chemically depolymerize a number of plastics and end up with much more manageable products. The real problem is getting all that stuff out of the world at large and into a processing plant.

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yardie 90 days ago | link

> The real problem is getting all that stuff out of the world at large and into a processing plant.

The problem with plastics is its cheap acquisition costs and expensive disposal costs. One of the good things about living in a developed country is we sorta manage the disposal costs well. In developing countries they don't manage plastic disposal at all. In all my travels one of the overriding themes I've seen is plastic on the sides of road, in rivers, on the beach.

When I removed the wooden door from a house we didn't need to call the city to send a special truck to dispose of it. We chopped it into pieces and used it for bbq. Then we mixed the ashes into the compost. Disposal was $0.

While plastic is cheap in the short term I think there are a lot of long term costs that get ignored.

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jaggederest 90 days ago | link

You can burn most plastics too, it's not like polyethylene doesn't burn like frozen gasoline. Sure, some of them will offgas toxic byproducts but so, too, does wood smoke.

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nwenzel 90 days ago | link

"cheap acquisition costs and expensive disposal costs"

Great point. Simple and head-smack obvious when you read it. Hits right at the core.

Immediately after reading, I generalized to "cheap up-front, expensive back-end costs."

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frogpelt 90 days ago | link

Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch

and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Atlantic_garbage_patch

and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Ocean_garbage_patch

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maxerickson 90 days ago | link

It isn't all that dire:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrolysis#Plastic_waste_disposa...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization

(Those processes mostly just mean that it all comes down to whether you want to put energy into something. Whether they are economical today doesn't factor into the usefulness in eliminating mountains of plastic.)

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hakanderyal 90 days ago | link

We are running a pyrolysis plant for recycling used car tires, and pyrolysis is also used for recycling municipal solid waste.

It's quite profitable, just the required amount of upfront investment is high.

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panzagl 90 days ago | link

In order for wood to last in an application like a thermostat box you basically have to cover it in plastic (polyurethane) anyway.

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kybernetyk 90 days ago | link

> Any particular reason?

I'm only involved in manufacturing as a hobby for my custom keyboard projects. But my bet would be that it's about injection molding [0].

Once you got the molds machined you can mass produce plastic parts extremely cheaply. Need more plastic parts? Get a few more molds made. It scales pretty well because one mold can produce multiple parts at once and the injection molding presses itself are relatively inexpensive and pretty much fully automated.

Wood while being great for prototyping doesn't scale that well in mass production. You would machine it using CNC routers and if you need more produced you need new expensive CNC routers which can only produce one part at a time. Also the CNC routers I know you have to baby sit.

Again: That's only from my limited experience with limited runs (a few thousand pieces at most). Maybe someone who knows more about real mass production can elaborate a little more on this.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Injection_molding

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gnaffle 90 days ago | link

Then again, isn't the current Nest made with metal (and I would guess, CNC milled just like Apple computers)?

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larrydag 90 days ago | link

I believe its the reason that injection molding plastics is so popular versus doing metal and wood. Wood and metal most of the time require a subtractive(sp?) manufacturing process that requires a lot of raw material, assembly steps, and waste. Injection molding and 3D printing is additive that is automated and simplifies the process with minimal waste.

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Domenic_S 90 days ago | link

I dunno, the Nest's ring is aluminum which is almost certainly machined from large stock.

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grinich 90 days ago | link

Tolerances, among many others.

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Domenic_S 90 days ago | link

The Nest's ring is metal (brushed aluminum?).

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grinich 90 days ago | link

The first version was plastic. The second (latest) has a brushed stainless steel ring.

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analog31 90 days ago | link

Flammability.

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analog31 90 days ago | link

Sorry, I should have elaborated. Flammability popped into my mind because of the need to list the flammability ratings of the materials in a design when going through regulatory testing and certification (UL, CE, etc).

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noonespecial 90 days ago | link

One thing I found about hardware is that the prototype is only 10% of the effort. Sourcing components for mass production, government regulatory hurdles, and then that damn enclosure are 90% when everything goes right.

I can build all kinds of things with my arduino and all of those awesome little one-off function boards you can snag on ebay from china theses days. I can't build 10000 of any of them.

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jevinskie 90 days ago | link

See, hobbyists have it lucky! Well, nowadays samples are harder to get..

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parfe 90 days ago | link

This makes me happy. I have a house with electric heat and eight thermostats pushing Nest costs into unreasonable territory. I'd love to be able to remotely set all my thermostats to 55 degrees or get certain zones to react based on events fired from my phone, (e.g. coming, leaving, charging with screen off aka sleeping, pending alarm)

Unfortunately, with my electric heat the thermostats sit inline with the heater's power source so I need devices that can safely handle 120v.

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declan 90 days ago | link

Nest thermostats seem to be around $250. If you want thermostats that you can control with Applescript, Perl, mobile apps, etc., check out these Insteon-based ones for $150: http://www.smarthome.com/2441TH/INSTEON-Thermostat/p.aspx

One problem with the Nest is that if your thermostat is in a poor location (more of a problem with central heating), the motion sensor won't see you. With the ones I suggested above, you can programmatically link those to ~$40 motion sensors installed in the correct locations that will actually work.

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VLM 88 days ago | link

I have one of those; it works pretty well. Before the Insteon was released I had a X10 thermostat which was somewhat cheaper. I worked around the "X10 is only 95% reliable" problem by having misterhouse set the temp every 5 minutes or whatever it was.

The financial payback time is unfortunately infinite but it was interesting.

One advantage of programming an insteon thermostat is its just plain old off the shelf technology to all end users including repair guys, although how its temp is set is magic and done by computer.

Most of the software work is already done by the misterhouse system, its not like you have to write your own insteon drivers or write your own sensor drivers or whatever. Misterhouse's support for Insteon has varied a bit over the decades. Last time I had to mess with anything it was a little fuzzy. I would imagine things have advanced considerably in the last half decade or so. I do not currently have misterhouse controlling the insteon thermostat mostly out of lazyness, I'll eventually re-enable it.

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stephenjudkins 90 days ago | link

It's pretty simple to wire up a 24VAC thermostat to control 120V power. Purchase a transformer [http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-AT140A1000-40Va-120V-Transfo...] and a 24VAC relay [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00097BDUA/ref=pe_385040_30332190_T...], get a junction box, and wire it all together.

This doesn't solve your problem of the $250/room cost, but if you'd like to use some other thermostats in your rooms this would work great.

The only complaint I'd have about mine is that the relay is very loud. You might want to search for a quieter one.

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maxerickson 90 days ago | link

There are purpose built combination units:

http://www.aubetech.com/products/list.php?noLangue=2&noFamil...

They apparently pay attention to how loud it is.

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jusben1369 90 days ago | link

Why do you have 8 thermostats? Is your house very very large? If true then is the personal cost to you of 8 Nest's really prohibitive?

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parfe 90 days ago | link

Not large at all. One thermostat per room. With electric heat you have to put a thermostat in line between the circuit breakers and the heating element (radiant panels in my case). Centralizing the house on a single thermostat, like you would with forced air, would actually be incredibly difficult. It would also lose the benefit of fine control; one of the few positives of electric heat.

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aconbere 90 days ago | link

Worth pointing out (and you touch on this above) that this is not a function of electric heat but a function specifically of the type of electric heat (radiant in this case). I have electric heat by way of a ducted electric heat pump which is not zoned and thus centralized. Zoned ducted and non-ducted electric heat pumps both offer localized control over heating.

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URSpider94 89 days ago | link

for what its worth, people in the trades would not consider a heat pump "electric heat", even though of course the power does come from electricity.

electric heat refers specifically to heat generated by heating an element with current.

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aconbere 77 days ago | link

Fascinating! (coming back to this late). What would the consider an electric heat pump, or what would they call it?

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jusben1369 90 days ago | link

Got it. Thanks. Sorry for my ignorance.

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kisielk 90 days ago | link

The same is also true for baseboard heaters, in general there is one thermostat per room.

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andrewhillman 90 days ago | link

For the average homeowner, Nest becomes unjustifiable if you need 2 thermostats.

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gonzo 90 days ago | link

I have two thermostats. The house has two heat pumps, one up, the other down.

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smackfu 90 days ago | link

I think it's pretty funny how much gnashing of teeth there is over a $250 item that's installed in a house, given how expensive so many other things in a house are.

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Thrymr 90 days ago | link

Replacing an existing item in your house with something for 10x the cost is not something you want to be doing too often as a homeowner. The benefits have to be quite significant. I've got a simple programmable digital thermostat that works fine. If I come home earlier than normal, I just bump up the heat manually. Calling ahead with my phone wouldn't add all that much value for me. If it was $50, I'd think about it. $250? No chance.

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smackfu 90 days ago | link

Here's the Honeywell version. It looks kind of crummy, but it's only $150.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywell-Wi-Fi-Programmable-Touc...

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andrewhillman 90 days ago | link

you want a zune or an ipod?

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recursive 89 days ago | link

I'll take the zune if it means I don't have to use itunes.

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theg2 89 days ago | link

Said someone who clearly never used a Zune. Marketing won Apple that war, not technology.

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mzr 89 days ago | link

The Honeywell thermostats are legitimately terrible. I've had a 8000-series for a couple years.

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nicksergeant 90 days ago | link

That's like saying it'd be reasonable to spend $200 on a light switch.

The issue is that standard programmable thermostats don't come close to the price of a Nest... about $20.

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smackfu 90 days ago | link

This wifi enabled plug is $50: http://www.belkin.com/us/p/P-F7C027/

These wifi light bulbs are 3 for $199: http://store.apple.com/us/product/HA779VC/A/philips-hue-conn...

I mean, I just don't get why people are so angry that someone would possibly want to spend some extra money to have a cool thermostat. If it was a cool video card for $249 that just lets them play games, no one would blink an eye. But because it's for a house, but for a part of the house that is supposed to be utilitarian, it's a sin.

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Domenic_S 90 days ago | link

Not at all, since 99.999% of homes have at least one light switch per room, and probably 80% of homes have only one thermostat.

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nicksergeant 90 days ago | link

Homes with electric heat have many more thermostats, which probably isn't as uncommon as you think. But still, $20 -> $250 is quite the spread.

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Domenic_S 90 days ago | link

Homes with radiant electric heat have many more thermostats, yes.

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jonhohle 89 days ago | link

Or forced air, in wall blowers.

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sliverstorm 90 days ago | link

My home has 7 thermostats. I don't see $1,750 in value in Nest.

I could buy a new fridge, a new stove, and a new water heater for that kind of money. Nice ones, too.

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corresation 90 days ago | link

Electric heat means they have electric baseboards in each room, making individual control logical and obvious, so eight rooms really isn't outside of the ordinary. Compare that to central HVAC where there's one furnace and at most you have electric dampers restricting flow to an area of the house (though few houses have even that).

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j15e 90 days ago | link

Very common in Europe & Canada

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jonhohle 89 days ago | link

Not only that, but basic, programmable load bearing thermostats are relatively expensive compared to the typical control line alternatives. However, even with basic programmable thermostats (>=$75 a piece), I saw my electrical bill drop considerably vs. a 30 year old mechanical thermostat in an apartment I lived in the past 4 years.

We've moved since then and took the thermostats with us. I still have two if you want to buy some slightly used aube programmables (nothing with wifi, but better than nothing).

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george88b 90 days ago | link

I have the exact same situation but I have spoken to Nest Customer Service and other "smart" thermostat CS and all have told me that they will not work with the wiring for electric heaters commonly controlled by a single dedicated mechanical thermostat. I was out of luck so if you find an working "smart" thermostat I would love to get one.

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mrfusion 90 days ago | link

I like the use of short 2-5 second videos instead of pictures. They did it tastefully and made it useful.

I never thought I'd see a good use case for auto playing videos. (It kind of reminds me of Harry Potter too)

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teh_klev 90 days ago | link

I'd rather I it didn't auto-play and let me choose whether I want a page to swamp my bandwidth and CPU. Even over an 8Mb/s ADSL connection on a quad core Xeon workstation with 12GB or RAM and fairly decent video card this page is one of the worst behaved I've encountered in a while.

Sadly I won't be reading any of the content because even after five minutes it's killing my browser. To the spark.io blogging team, please don't assume unlimited wads of broadband. Let the reader decide whether they want to play your videos, and you know, I can only watch one video at a time on that page, so why start them all playing at once? This is no better etiquette than CNN or MSNBC or an adware farm where they start playing videos at you upon arrival. It's very rude.

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kmfrk 90 days ago | link

Indeed; autoplay=true is stupid, but on the other hand, it's quite remarkable how it manage to bring my desktop PC to its knees.

Maybe using whatever https://mediacru.sh/ returns instead will help.

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RossM 90 days ago | link

I really liked the effect, but took my headphones off to hear my MBP preparing for takeoff.

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Kliment 90 days ago | link

Bluekitten, you are hellbanned for no apparent reason as of 21 days ago.

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ewoodrich 90 days ago | link

This is the second time she's been hellbanned too.

For no real reason either time. I'm not sure what's going there.

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pg 90 days ago | link

Bluekitten is just the 100th or so reincarnation of recoiledsnake, which is as far as we can tell a Microsoft astroturfing campaign. Lately their sockpuppets are often female, to give people the impression we're banning women when we ban them.

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grinich 90 days ago | link

Are there many accounts like that on HN?

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pg 90 days ago | link

This person or group has created lots of accounts, but there are no others like them that we know of.

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Ygg2 90 days ago | link

Why do people get hellbanned for?

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cbhl 90 days ago | link

mediacru.sh returns MP4 videos, though...

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Sir_Cmpwn 90 days ago | link

You can easily embed MediaCrush videos on your site. I'm one of the devs on MediaCrush, I can answer questions if need be. It brings in webm, mp4, and ogv, but we've fine tuned the encoding more than most people would think to, and we have the video player UI in place if don't want to autoplay.

https://blog.mediacru.sh/2013/10/31/Add-media-hosting-to-you...

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lewispollard 90 days ago | link

I'm on ADSL with a low-end Core i5, 4GB RAM and integrated graphics, and didn't notice any slowdown at all.

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georgemcbay 88 days ago | link

I'm running Windows 8.1 on an i5 with Chrome and didn't notice any slowdown (nor fan speedup, or any of the usual issues sudden resource drains tend to cause) at all either. Looking at task manager shows Chrome is only using 13% of the CPU while I'm actively viewing that page.

I'm sure YMMV depending upon OS, browser, underlying installed codecs handling the video (and their associated gpu acceleration or lack thereof), etc.

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sixothree 90 days ago | link

Did your cpu usage spike?

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sp332 90 days ago | link

I also have an i5, and my Firefox was only using about half of one CPU, but stuttering like crazy. The UI froze up constantly and would barely scroll. FF 29.0a1 (2014-01-16) on Win7.

Edit: This is with crummy AMD FirePro 2270 graphics. Chrome 34.0.1789.0 canary was very smooth on the same box!

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sliverstorm 90 days ago | link

Yeah, it doesn't seem to be memory- or CPU-limited. My browser hard-locks for half a minute, but most major usage stats don't move.

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xauronx 90 days ago | link

Same

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simfoo 90 days ago | link

I'm on a university fiber network using my beefy workstation and this page is killing my Firefox

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seferphier 90 days ago | link

Same. it was insanely stressful for firefox. But this was a pretty good use of videos. if it could be more memory efficient..

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pacmon 90 days ago | link

I'd have to agree. It's not the bandwidth that was the issue though. All those videos loading and playing at once crushed my poor browser (Waterfox 24) until I was able to slowly pause them one by one. This does, however, work mostly smooth on my version of Chrome (32).

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ricardobeat 90 days ago | link

It wouldn't have the same effect without auto-play. This is essentially a smarter GIF. Looks like the CPU suffers from all the videos playing simultaneously, maybe pausing videos as soon as they go off-screen could solve that (while browsers don't get to optimize this).

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theon144 89 days ago | link

Firefox 26 with a shit-ton of privacy-related plugins on a budget $350 desktop, no slow-down at all.

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singold 90 days ago | link

Windows XP SP3 - Chrome 31.0.1650.63 - Core 2 Duo - 2GB Ram and no problems.

Now i'm thinking about upgrading and all that... :P

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mcgaffin 90 days ago | link

This could be a useful chrome/firefox plugin. If you run this in your browser console, all that video will stop:

$('video').each(function() { this.pause(); })

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zsupalla 89 days ago | link

Performance issues are resolved, now the site only plays the videos that are on-screen.

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ddoolin 90 days ago | link

Agreed. I had to open the source and see what they were using. Native video elements...I like it. I figured it was a nice GIF or something.

Not sure what the others guy are talking about. Works fine on my MacBook Pro...not issues at all?

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selectodude 90 days ago | link

Same with Safari 7 on my MacBook Pro. Worked a treat, was a super cool concept. I'm surprised to see all the complaints with Chrome, I always took that browser to have the best support for this kind of stuff.

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ddoolin 90 days ago | link

I'm using Chrome and it works just fine. I'm actually quite curious what's causing the negative experience across equally capable machines.

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corresation 90 days ago | link

A different video card, codec chain, and on and on, can yield a very experience. Being an early adopter of many Harry Potter-esque moving pictures can yield nice content, but it will invariably cause client issues.

As I mentioned in another post, it works fine in Chrome 34 on the same hardware that it struggles dramatically with in Chrome 32. Both of them have hardware decoding enabled, and so on. The Chrome 32 instance has no problems at all playing video anywhere else.

Indeed, on that same line, the videos don't load at all on Chrome on the Nexus 5. The N5 of course supports h264, and has no problem on any other site that I've ever discovered. Maybe their server is now overloaded (EDIT: Okay they're using S3....going to be an ugly bandwidth bill from that...and it's fully responsive), but it also doesn't load on the iPad 3rd generation running iOS 7. Again just black boxes.

EDIT: I wonder if it's because they're (s3) setting the content type to octet-stream, rather than video/mp4. Some clients seem to be going on alternate decode paths or are refusing to display it because of that.

e.g.

Content-Length:6915107 Content-Range:bytes 0-6915106/6915107 Content-Type:application/octet-stream

There's a lesson in here somewhere.

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simoncion 90 days ago | link

Me too! I'm using Chromum 31 and Chrome 32 on Linux with old open-source Radeon-HD drivers, and ran that page without issue. shrug

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asdashopping 90 days ago | link

In my experience Safari is generally much smoother and uses less power than Chrome on OSX. Chrome frequently makes my MBP uncomfortably hot on websites that Safari doesn't break a sweat on (like Flash videos on Youtube, although Chrome's built-in Flash could be causing problems). It's unfortunate.

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cabalamat 90 days ago | link

> I like the use of short 2-5 second videos instead of pictures.

I utterly disliked it. It made my browser slow and so I didn't read their page.

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pistle 90 days ago | link

Autoplay has been the devil for 15 years in UI. You don't repeat animation and you don't auto-start it unless that is the expected primary feature of the landing page.

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theallan 90 days ago | link

Possibly, although I'm not that keen on my CPU fans spinning up just to scroll through a web-page.

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larrydag 90 days ago | link

I wonder if that could be optimized if they were compressed GIFs.

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corresation 90 days ago | link

h264 videos are generally significantly smaller than comparable resolution animated GIFs, not to mention being much better quality: It is a very good thing that the era of animated GIFs is drawing to a close, and the pace with which MP4 is supplanting animated GIFs is quickly accelerating.

Having said that, an h264 source can have magnitudes more complexity for playback, and generally the greater the compression the higher the playback complexity. Having five or so high profile multi-MB decorative videos autoplaying on a page is excessive.

They shouldn't use autoplay. They shouldn't even initialize until scrolled into view. They shouldn't all play at once. Their bandwidth usage is going to be enormous from this HNing, a single page impression pushing 15MB+ (EDIT: I hadn't really delved into it at the time given the display issues, however I grossly underestimated when I said 15MB).

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ricardobeat 90 days ago | link

@simoncion you've been hellbanned in this thread for some reason.

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simoncion 89 days ago | link

Thanks for the heads-up. Not that I want to learn anything about HN's ban system, but it's interesting to see that the hellbanhammer can be wielded on a per-thread basis.

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boristhespider 90 days ago | link

Apparently [1] MP4s (at least their file sizes) can be optimized much more than animated GIFs, although it doesn't seem like that's been fully done here.

[1] http://gfycat.com/about

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zz1 90 days ago | link

Thank you for your comment: it allowed me to understand that the empy blocks I was seeing were meant to be videos (Firefox user here).

It's sad to find out that they ignored that mp4 isn't supported by all browsers. I know: HTML5 video is just a PITA, and that's indeed a reason why so many still rely on gifs.

I hope this project grows, and that they will care a bit more than they did here.

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michaelt 90 days ago | link

Works for me on Firefox 26.0 on Ubuntu?

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maxerickson 90 days ago | link

Firefox only supports platform codecs for mp4. So, for instance, it doesn't work on XP.

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zz1 90 days ago | link

Neither on OS X

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corresation 90 days ago | link

On a well-equipped i7 Windows 7 x64 machine, this web page brought Chrome 32 to an absolute crawl.

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jrabone 90 days ago | link

Worked well for me on same hardware / software - suggest your video drivers aren't, er, driving...

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corresation 90 days ago | link

FWIW it runs fine on Chrome Canary (currently 34). CPU/GPU is still excessive for videos that people might not even want to see, but the videos all run smoothly and the browser remains responsive. Not sure what the Chrome difference is for that.

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venomsnake 90 days ago | link

I7, 32 GB ram, 7970 latest chrome dev and it was on its knees.

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kdot 90 days ago | link

Worked so well that I didn't even realize this was video, thought they were GIFs

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diydsp 90 days ago | link

Worked well technically on i7/win7/laptop(32GB)/firefox. I didn't like the effect though: jittery, repetitive, distracting. A tripod would have gone a LONG way here as well as only using in focus images. as only using It was like channel surfing. I said, "ooh ahh" to myself, but didn't hold the channel there for long even though I love the concept.

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ANH 90 days ago | link

Works great on a i7 Ubuntu 13.10 x64 machine under Chrome 31.

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XorNot 90 days ago | link

i5 Mint 16 with Chrome 31 - worked great, no fan speed ups for anything.

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sixothree 90 days ago | link

Chrome Win7 as well. This page makes all 4 (and 8 hyperthreaded) cores peg 100%. But strangely it still feel responsive in scrolling etc.

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bluefinity 90 days ago | link

Oh, I was wondering what those were. They just appear as black boxes on my tablet. I guess they're flash?

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davb 90 days ago | link

MP4 using HTML5 <video> tags.

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peterclary 90 days ago | link

What's your tablet?

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bluefinity 90 days ago | link

Nexus 7 (2013) -- running Android 4.4.

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corresation 90 days ago | link

Different person, but the videos do not load in either the iPad (iOS7) or Nexus 7 (Android 4.4) for me. As mentioned in another post, the content-type being returned is wrong for video/mp4, at least from the S3 servers I am hitting. Perhaps this varies and is correct for some, but it seems to be the reason for so many varied experiences -- some clients just ignore it, others seem to choose render paths based upon it, and others refuse the content because of it.

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rlpb 90 days ago | link

So that's why I had a bunch of random gaps.

Poor degradation to those of us running NoScript, there.

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jonathansizz 90 days ago | link

If you run a browser extension that breaks the web, the web breaks. Maybe try something like DoNotTrackMe instead?

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lukejduncan 90 days ago | link

I actually really disliked this. Too distracting for me. Maybe my tastes will change over time - but I stopped reading because I couldn't concentrate on the text.

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FatalBaboon 90 days ago | link

I opened the page with Firefox and my (reasonably powerful) laptop started overheating instantly.

Opening the page via eww in EMACS made it readable since it doesn't load videos if I don't ask it to.

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MereInterest 90 days ago | link

As someone who often browses over remote desktop, it gets quite frustrating, since all of the sudden my connection, which is fast enough for static text, freezes.

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adventureloop 90 days ago | link

I like the idea, but the moving images in my eye line as I tried to read made me feel really queasy.

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