Particle Photon Starter Projects

December 2017

Since my last embedded project experiments in 2013, a lot has changed. Costs have gone down, size has reduced and functionality is way up. After researching some of the more current platforms, I selected the Particle Photon for its size, prize and capability.

Photon Project #1

After successfully duplicating Clarissa San Diego’s project, which uses the Particle Internet Button, I expanded the program to do different things with the buttons.

Button 1 – Append date/time info to a text file in a Dropdox folder.
Button 2 – Sends an email.
Button 3 – Sends command to play music on my Android.
Button 4 – Update Adafruit Welcome data feed.

I also got multiple functions working per button. During this time I had to upgrade my cell phone (not for this project, it was just overdue). After the upgrade to a Droid Z Play, the IFTTT trigger to play music does not work completely. The new Droid forces you to use Google Play to play audio, so I’ve been unable to play a specific custom WAV file.

Google music player doesn’t seem to like my custom WAV file, and only plays music automatically if it is part of the Google Music service.

With time it should be possible to get around this. Other music players haven’t worked either. So, more to learn.

Photon Project #2

More exciting that the Internet Button is the Particle NeoPixel Ring, which is offered by Adafruit.

One of the starter projects is designed to make the ring light up (wirelessly) when the International Space Station goes over your house. That’s a neat idea, but given that the ISS doesn’t go over our house all that often, I wanted to have something a bit more dynamic and regularly occurring.

Using IFTTT, I set up the lights to display when:

  • a tweet is sent from my account.
  • an SMS message is sent to an IFTTT phone number.
  • time reaches the top of the hour.

As for the light display itself, I am still modifying the code from the original. I’d like to build in separate light show responses for different IFTTT events.

Tip: One of the upsides to upgrading my cell phone is that I have a bunch of Mini USB 5V chargers that can now be used for embedded projects (the Z Play uses a USB-C connector). Just have to be sure that whatever circuit I use them on has a regulator for 3.3V if needed.

Here is a short video (made with Adobe Spark) of some testing when I was troubleshooting a lighting routine loop that went nuts.

Later in January, I was able to link both of the above projects so that a button command on one Photon interacted (through IFTTT) with the other Photon displaying the light shows. There’s a bit of network delay, but it was fun to see both projects connected.



By jjdeprisco

Sonic explorer, sound artist, guitarist in Fricknadorable, software designer.

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