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December 06, 2013

Hacks › News ›

Ninja Car

Things have been crazy here at Ninja Blocks, but we thought we’d show something we’ve been playing with (and by the way, this may be the first Ninja driver written in a car! Big milestone!).

Hacking up a Ninja Driver on the spot (note, the car was stopped)

So you can add a lot to your Sphere already: lights, AC units, TVs, etc. But, all of these things live inside your home. Wouldn’t it be neat if you could add your CAR to your Sphere? At Ninja Blocks, we think mechanics shouldn’t have all the fun. What if you could see how many miles you’ve traveled and much gas you’ve consumed over time? Parents can use it to make sure their kid’s cars are running ok, employees can use it to automatically track the mileage on their company car. Whenever your car broadcasts an error code, you’ll get an alert and a link to see more information. This means you can fix your car before it becomes an even bigger issue! Not only that, but you can go to your mechanic armed with a bit more information on what's happening.

To accomplish this, we installed an off the shelf adapter into our test car. Installation took approximately 15 seconds-- we simply plugged in the adapter, ran a tiny Ninja Block driver and watched all the streaming data appear on the dashboard! If you'd like to follow along, you can buy just about any bluetooth ODB adapter. We bought this cheapie from Deal Extreme.

Our humble ODB2 adapter

So on our Friday afternoon beer run, we decided to test it all out. We could see live data about speed, acceleration, temperature, and much more! Whenever our phone or Ninja Block is near our car, we get any bad error codes sent directly to the dashboard.

Ninja dashboard with car acceleration, load, RPMs, temp, etc.

Stay tuned for more Friday hacks!

Introducing the Ninja Crust for Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi and Arduino are both amazing platforms. Here at Ninja Blocks, we think they should be friends. That's why we created the Pi Crust.

The Pi Crust combines the power of the Raspberry Pi and the simplicity of the Arduino. Combined with our 433MHz transceiver, you can hook up sensors and interact with the world via the internet without the pain!


Get LED lighting connected to the Internet of Things with new ZigBee® Light Link™ development kit from TI and Ninja Blocks

Get LED lighting connected to the Internet of Things with new ZigBee® Light Link™ development kit from TI (via PR Newswire)

Complete hardware and software kit helps LED lighting manufacturers add control with remote or cloud connectivity Download image Texas Instruments Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Texas Instruments Incorporated) DALLAS, Oct. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Texas Instruments…

August 06, 2013

Dashboard ›

Beta Dashboard

We're proud to announce the public beta release of a new version of the Ninja Blocks Dashboard.

The new dashboard is a complete rewrite of our previous frontend dashboard and aims to empower end users to have better control over their user experience with their devices through an advanced widget system integrated within the Ninja Blocks platform



New Features

  • New Widget Structure
    Our previous dashboard had a one-to-one binding of device to widget. Unfortunately this limited how we could represent sensors and actuators, especially those that exposed themselves as multiple devices to the Ninja cloud.

    We wanted to de-couple the dependency on us at Ninja Blocks deciding how best to represent your devices by extracting out the widget representation from our backend. Widgets now have a simple structure that can be easily ported across to other devices.

    With the new structure, it is now possible to:
    • Create aggregate widgets that make use of data from multiple devices (no restriction as long as the device exists in your account)
    • Use a device in multiple widgets.
    • Represent a device with multiple views. Perhaps one could be a big number, and another could be a graph, or time-series.

  • Editable Widgets
    Along with the new widget structure, we have enabled advanced users to completely change the presentation and functionality of their widgets by providing direct access to the HTML, CSS and Javascript that drives them.

    We understand that there are always situations where users may think to ask "This is great, but would be better if it could also do ______".For those out there that are capable, you can do just that. Take our widgets and customise them even further to suit your needs. Or even more advanced, create your own widgets from scratch!

  • Sizable Widgets
    Need more visual space for your widgets? Simply resize them to fit.

  • Sortable Widgets
    A much overdue feature, your widgets are now sortable and stay in the sorted order you set. 

  • Overall New Layout Style
    We've changed the underlying template system


We understand that the range of widgets available to the beta dashboard is limited for now as most of our work thus far has been focused on enabling the environment to support the above features. Rest assured, we will be constantly improving the available widgets and overall beta dashboard over time and moving towards more advanced features. 


Stay tuned!


July 23, 2013

Ninja Blocks at DBX2013

Recently Ninja Blocks sent me to DBX2013 to create a carnival game- a 'High Striker'.  Folks would pound a hammer on a pad and try to reach the top, passing design phases as they went.  If they reached the top, they 'Shipped It' and won free space on Dropbox.

Read the article here.

May 07, 2013

News ›

April Ninja Kits delayed (again)

Short version:


Bad news for the April Ninja kit batch. Its been delayed again. We now expect them to ship on 21 May. We have upgraded shipping to USPS Priority for the US and DHL Express for Europe which are both relatively reliable 5 days services. People in other countries will get a discount coupon if we can’t find a reasonable shipping option.


Long version:


You would think that things would be getting smooth by our fourth batch! Unfortunately not so much. A lot of the responsibility falls to us, assuming that delivery times would be similar to previous batches (not so much). This pushed back assembly into a national holiday week, and finally to make matters worse the temperature/humidity sensors failed QA on mass.


We were aiming to ship on 14 April, however it will now be around 21 May. We are paying for faster shipping for the US and Europe so with luck the kits will still arrive by the end of May only slightly later than they would have with standard shipping.


For future Ninjas outside Europe and the US we are investigating better options, if we can’t find a reasonable shipping option we’ll send you a discount coupon instead along with our apologies.


You will receive an email once your order has been dispatched with a Tracking and or delivery receipt number.


Please accept our deepest apologies. We understand that you may want to cancel your order, if so please contact by the 10th of May.


Apologies again,

Team Ninja.


May 03, 2013

Rules ›

New Rules Features are Live!

G'day All

Just wanted to announce that we've drastically improved the rules engine, including many new features and performance/reliability fixes. In no particular order:

Short Codes

Specifically when sending a webhook, email, tweet, sms, facebook post. Currently supported short codes:

  1. {{DATE_UTC}}
  2. {{TIME_UTC}}
  3. {{DATE_TIME_UTC}}
  4. {{GUID.deviceData}} ie {{1012BBxxxxx_0_0_31.deviceData}} (You can get guid from the info box in the device's widget)
  5. {{GUID.deviceName}}
  6. {{GUID.subDeviceName}}, ie if you have a motion sensor on the RF widget called 'motion' it will put 'motion' in.
  7. Note: the webhook shortcodes need to be put in the dashboard. This is slated to be fixed.

Delay widget 'for at least'

This makes the delay smarter, and will only continue after the delay if that amount of time has passed. This is useful for 'If motion, turn on my lights, delay at least 30 seconds, and turn them off'. Thus constant motion will not result in constantly turning the lights off and on.

Rewrite of the time precondition

Timezone support, daily schedules and custom periods!

Enable/disable a rule from within a rule

You'll see a 'Toggle rule' action now. This means you can now 'arm' a rule with a button, for example. I'm excited to see what people use this for.

State device

You enable this from the settings tab in 'Services' tab. You will get a new widget where you can add custom states. You can make rules 'if state X' then send 'state Y'. The state device is D = 244. You only need to send the data once and we'll action it if its in a rule precondition no matter how long ago it was sent. This opens up some interesting opportunities, but proceed with caution! We'll be writing up some HOWTOs on this shortly.

Other fixes

We've also gone through the entire rules engine with a fine tooth comb, rewriting the bad parts and optimising the good parts. It's quite a bit of an overhaul, so please be patient as we iron any last kinks. 

Thanks for reading!
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