Parking Nag – Project Overview

OK, I’ve decided to put together a new project. I’m calling it Parking Nag. A wireless monitoring and notification thingy for parking around our makerspace.

Here’s the deal. Our makerspace is located in the downtown area of a small town. While there are a few small parking decks around, they charge for use. The City doesn’t charge to park on the street, but during normal business hours, there’s a two-hour limit. Typical scenario.

Since most of our members park on the street, we could benefit from having some kind of notification that we need to go move our car. We get all involved in whatever we’re doing at the space, and have a tough time remembering to shuffle the vehicle to another spot.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Parking Nag will consist of two parts. A monitor/display that resides inside our makerspace. We have a big table in the center of our space, and it’ll look nice right in the middle. The display will show the names of any member currently “registered” as being parked around the space and the amount of time they have left, or something like that.

The other part will be a small wireless transmitter that our members toss on their dash. When they arrive, they’ll “do something” to start their timer before they get out of their car and head upstairs. That’ll transmit some sort of “start timer” message to the console. In the space, the console will have an LED readout with their name and the amount of time each registered vehicle has left. I’m thinking it will also have an audible or other type of alert to let people know when time is running out. If they don’t respond, a robotic arm will then come out, spray the member with water, and taze them..  no, no, wait…

I’ve got the acrylic box thing figured out already. A cool Box Maker App I found will produce any size box design I want, with notched edges. It spits out a PDF that I can vector-cut on our laser cutter. Works great, and produces awesome enclosures.

I’ve worked out much of the wireless part from a music project I was working on. Thinking of using Xbee, but will have to do some testing to see if the range of my 2.4 GHz radios will be adequate.

Have to think through the monitor/display part a bit. One of our other members is working on a heads-up display for his motorcycle, and I’ll probably bug him for input on the best approach.

Buzz Kill: Well, why not just have someone punch a button when they get into the space? Why the need for anything wireless? Why not just use a mobile phone app? Other than “that wouldn’t be as much fun to build, or to use” I don’t really have answers for those questions.

I’ll post more as the project comes together. Gotta go move my car!