Other posts in this series (will be hyperlinked as written)

  1. Materials and Dash Button setup
  2. Setting up the Raspberry Pi Zero
  3. Triggering actions with the buttons

14333031_10155163686460278_161497320619130731_nA few weeks ago, I posted a picture up on Facebook of a few Dash Buttons that I was activating.  I had a lot of questions about what the heck I was doing with them all, and I think it’s time to fill you all in.

Essentially, the Dash Button is a product from Amazon.   The intended use is that you buy one for $4.99, connect it your wifi through the Amazon App, and choose a product from the brand that is displayed on the button.   Whenever you push the button, it let’s Amazon know you want to order that product and it gets shipped out to you usually the next day.   We have one for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and it’s kind of awesome.

But what’s also interesting is that if you break it all down, it’s basically just an internet connected trigger.   When it gets pushed, it jumps on your network, announces itself, and then sends a command to Amazon to place the order.  However, it‘s pretty simple to hijack it and use it for other purposes as well.   In order to incentivize people to buy the Dash Button, Amazon will give you a $4.99 credit on a future purchase.   That means you can get an internet connected trigger that is highly hackable…  for essentially free!

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-8-18-10-amThat’s why I bought so many of them.   The out of pocket cost is basically zero, and we’re now starting to use them throughout the house.   Aiden is currently using them to log his practice time on both piano and trombone, and we have another button that starts a ‘dance party’ in the living room.

I’m going to break down the entire process for all of you, but since there’s several distinct steps, I’m going to separate it into a few posts.

  • Introduction (this post)
  • Materials and Dash Button setup
  • Setting up the Raspberry Pi Zero
  • Triggering actions with the buttons

So much more to come.  I’ll link up the ‘table of contents’ at the top as each post gets written.   And I hope you’ll play along!  It’s a fun project to do, and it’ll feel really geeky… but is actually pretty simple.