MonsterRemote for the MonsterShield prop controller
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Complete tutorial at Introducing the MonsterRemote for the MonsterShield -

The MonsterRemote is a remote control for the MonsterShield prop controller that you can use from any mobile device. Utilizing a smartphone with web browsing capabilities, you can trigger any configured animation on the MonsterShield prop controller.

Built with:

  • Ruby version = 2.0.0

  • Rails version = 4.0.0

Some screenshots and a video can be found on the blog posting.

What you need:

  • A MonsterShield + Arduino. You can add the expander board if you want. Order everything you need from Jason rocks!

  • A Raspberry Pi. The raspberry pi will host your rails applications

  • Wireless dongle for the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi will need to connect to your home wi-fi network.

  • USB cable. The USB cable (often referred to as a USB printer cable) will have the square side to connect to the Arduino, and the rectangle side connects to your Raspberry Pi or Powered USB Hub.

  • Powered USB Hub for the Arduino is suggested for ample power draw.

  • You need to have some technical capability and not be scared. This won't be a cake walk. Hopefully my guide will show you how it's done.

Configure your MonsterShield

  • Setup your MonsterShield with your MonsterShield editor program or the using the keybang board. Once the MonsterShield is setup as a normal prop controller, you can move on.

Setup your Raspberry Pi:

  • Install Raspbian on your Pi. You will probably want a class10 SD card so everything compiles and runs faster

  • During setup, configure an easy to remember hostname. Such as monsterremote or monsterpi, or monster. if you have a DNS server at home, make sure to include your FQDN. I called mine monsterpi, and will be using that in all the configurations going forward. so if you want to make it easy, name it monsterpi.

  • Setup your wireless dongle to connect to your home network. plenty of blog posts are out there to show you how to set this up depending on the type of dongle you bought.

  • Configure a static IP address on your raspberry pi's wireless connection. VERY IMPORTANT

  • Remember the username and password you use for connecting to your Pi. by default, the username is Pi. I suggest changing the password to something you can remember.

  • Test connecting to your Pi via SSH from another computer.

  • Follow these instructions on installing Ruby on Rails. RPi Ruby on Rails. or follow my list for step by steps. this can all be done via SSH and we no longer need monitor support.

    - to follow these directions properly, verify you are in the /home/ director for the pi user
    sudo apt-get install -y git curl zlib1g-dev subversion
    sudo apt-get install -y openssl libreadline6-dev git-core zlib1g libssl-dev
    sudo apt-get install -y libyaml-dev libsqlite3-dev sqlite3
    sudo apt-get install -y libxml2-dev libxslt-dev
    sudo apt-get install -y autoconf automake libtool bison
    sudo apt-get install libv8-dev #not entirely sure if it's needed, but it doesn't hurt.
    sudo apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev #not entirely sure if it's needed, but it doesn't hurt.
    curl -L | bash -s stable --ruby
    source ~/.rvm/scripts/rvm
    echo "gem: --no-ri --no-rdoc" > ~/.gemrc #run this command so no documentation is installed with the gems.
    gem install rails
    - It will take a few hours for this to compile on your Pi.

Cool. Now your Pi is setup and ready for the application. adapting this part from a nice tutorial over at Ubuntu Hardy - Nginx, Rails, and Thin.

Install MonsterRemote on the Pi

  • Clone the git repository containing the application.

    cd /var #this will change the current directory
    sudo mkdir www #this will create a directory called www
    cd www
    sudo mkdir monsterpi #this will create a directory called monsterpi. you can name it anything you want. this will be a directory you will access. you may want to call it monsterremote or monster. i just called it monsterpi to keep it consistent with the name of the pi itself.
    sudo git clone /var/www/monsterpi #in a few seconds you will see all the data for the application transfer
    cd /var/www/monsterpi #change to your new directory
    rvmsudo bundle install #this will install all the necessary gems. this will take a while.
    sudo chown pi:pi /var/www/monsterpi #this will change ownership of files to the pi user
  • Create and seed the database. don't start this until you are done with step 2.

    while still in the /var/www/monsterpi directory type rvmsudo rake db:setup RAILS_ENV=production
    rvmsudo rake assets:precompile RAILS_ENV=production
  • Install the Thin rails server. bootup adapted from stackoverflow

    gem install thin
    rvmsudo thin install
    sudo /usr/sbin/update-rc.d -f thin defaults #this updates the service to automatically start at login. but for some reason it doesn't like to start automatically on the pi.
    rvmsudo thin config -C /etc/thin/monsterpi -c /var/www/monsterpi --servers 1 -e production #this will create a thin configurtion
    rvm list
        you will see a list of ruby versions installed. If you're following this guide, then you will only see one version listed, and our original installation loaded the latest version of ruby. remember your current rvm version for the next step. At the current time of this writing, mine is ruby-2.0.0-p247
        if you know your way around ruby, and you have multiple gemsets installed then you need to perform a rvm gemset list to get your working list, otherwise, if you are following this tutorial, then we are just using the default global gemset
    rvm wrapper ruby-2.0.0-p247 bootup thin
    sudo nano /etc/init.d/thin
    change the original loader
        original looks like this DAEMON=/home/pi/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p247/bin/thin
        change the line to look like DAEMON=/home/pi/.rvm/bin/bootup_thin #ctrl+x, and then Y, to exit and save
    sudo service thin start
  • Install and configure Nginx web server

    sudo apt-get install nginx  </tt>
    sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/monsterpi </tt>
        copy and paste this into the file #make any necessary changes for hostnames and sites. ctrl+x, and then Y, to exit and save
           <tt>  upstream monsterpi {
            server {
            listen   80;
            server_name  monsterpi;
            rewrite ^/(.*) http://monsterpi permanent;
            server {
            listen   80;
            server_name monterpi;
            access_log /var/log/thin_access.log;
            error_log /var/log/thin_error.log;
            root   /var/www/monsterpi/public;
            index  home.html;
            location / {
            proxy_set_header  X-Real-IP  $remote_addr;
            proxy_set_header  X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
            proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
            proxy_redirect off;
            if (-f $request_filename/home.html) {
            rewrite (.*) $1/home.html break;
            if (-f $request_filename.html) {
            rewrite (.*) $1.html break;}
            if (!-f $request_filename) {
            proxy_pass http://monsterpi;
            }  </tt>
    sudo rm /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
    sudo nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
        copy and paste this into the file #make any necessary changes for your system. ctrl+x, and then Y, to exit and save
            user pi;
            worker_processes 5;
            error_log /var/log/nginx.error.log;
            pid /var/run/;
            events {
            worker_connections 1024;
            http {
            include mime.types;
            default_type application/octet-stream;
            log_format main '$remote_addr - $remote_user [$time_local] $request '
            '"$status" $body_bytes_sent "$http_referer" '
            '"$http_user_agent" "$http_x_forwarded_for"';
            access_log /var/log/nginx.access.log main;
            sendfile on;
            keepalive_timeout 65;
            upstream monsterpi {
            server {
            listen 80;
            server_name monsterpi;
            root /var/www/monsterpi/public;
            location / {
            proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
            proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
            proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
            proxy_redirect off;
            if (-f $request_filename/home.html) {
            rewrite (.*) $1/home.html break;
            if (-f $request_filename.html) {
            rewrite (.*) $1.html break;
            if (!-f $request_filename) {
            proxy_pass http://monsterpi;
            error_page 500 502 503 504 /50x.html;
            location = /50x.html {
            root html;
    sudo ln -nfs /etc/nginx/sites-available/monsterpi /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/monsterpi
  • Turn on the app and lets check it out

    rvmsudo /etc/init.d/thin restart
    rvmsudo /etc/init.d/nginx reload
    rvmsudo /etc/init.d/nginx restart

Open up a web browser to your Pi and you should see the MonsterRemote homescreen. Woohoo!… that took long enough.