An Idea I'll Probably Make Someday

Well, I just tought of an idea, but I don’t know how hard it would be, and if I’ll ever be good enough to do it…

Anyways here I go:

Someday I want to make this little thing that displays package tracking for me… I’m thinking of an arduino, an lcd, an ethernet shield or a wifi shield, and a few buttons for navigating packages…

What do you guys think? Would It be hard? Is it a good idea? Should I try it? Would you guys be willing to help me with the software?

Someday I want to make this little thing that displays package tracking for me… I’m thinking of an arduino, an lcd, an ethernet shield or a wifi shield, and a few buttons for navigating packages…

Why not just write an app for a portable net-connected device (iPhone/Pod, Android, etc.)?

What do you guys think? Would It be hard? Is it a good idea? Should I try it? Would you guys be willing to help me with the software?

See above. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. :slight_smile:


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What sort of package do you have in mind? Like a box coming to you from UPS?

If people liked it, and I started selling it, I would look into injection molding services… But for a protptype it would either be a perf board alone or a perf board and a project box…

I don’t think you have descibed your idea well enough for some of us to understand what is required of the Arduino for us to make decent recommendations. Want to try again, slow down and take your time. :wink:

Well, you know how when you order stuff on line, your anxious for it to get there? Well, this looks at the tracking site(s) and displays the info on an lcd. There would be buttons to navigate your different shipments…

And why would this not be better done on a PC? I’m not saying it can’t be done on a Arduino (I’m not much good with networking stuff) but I don’t think it’s an application that best takes advantages of what an Arduino can do.

Lefty

Yea this seems more like an iphone/android app.

Remember that Ponko thing Sparkfun did? And remember the bus thing? This is like that but with backages not busses… And are you going to stand your phone on your desk all day? And those apps already exist; I have one myself…

It would be cool if you used the status messages from the carrier to display your package on a map so you could visually see how close they are.

considering it gets updated only once a day until its on the truck headed your way, then its only updated after you already have it, I dont sit on my desk bashing F5 constantly to watch it not really do anything

Odd… Mine shows alot of stuff… It tells me cities and everything…

All the package tracking services I’ve seen use CAPTCHA or similar specifically to stop people writing scripts that periodically check shipping status. If you can find a tracking service that provides an API you may be able to do this directly with an Arduino, but if you are scraping an HTML interface you’ll probably find that you can’t do enough string processing and pattern matching in the Arduino to make it feasible. You’d need an external program running on a PC or something to do the scraping and present sanitised data to the Arduino, in which case the Arduino is nothing but a glorified additional display.

Hmmm, thinking about it, you could set up a web service yourself that scrapes the tracking site and then exposes the data as a simple API for the Arduino to consume.

Jon
Practical Arduino: www.practicalarduino.com

USPS, UPS, and FedEx all don’t require the captia (spelling?)… And that’s all I ever use for shipping, because one of them always has the cheapest… And I sometimes am forced to use DHL… They don’t need captia either…

Even if they don’t use CAPTCHA I think you’ll find that you can’t use an Arduino to retrieve the HTML interface and parse it to extract the info you want. I just checked the FedEx tracking page, and the response page from submitting a tracking request is over 30K!

You’ll need to get the Arduino talking to an API that can provide a very lightweight version of the data, not talking directly to the carrier’s public website.

Jon

Odd… Mine shows alot of stuff… It tells me cities and everything…

I handle fedex at work all day every day, its updated once in the morning and if it happened to make it to a second depot within 12 hours once at night

it surprised my wife actually, I shipped a package to Alabama on Tuesday, our truck doesn’t get picked up until after 7pm, she was watching that tracking number like a hawk, the next morning she got an email from the recipient thanking her for the books, and the tracking number, well it did not even show up in their system till nearly an hour after it was dropped off due to the batch processing delay

and that was using standard ground service, granted less than 200 miles away, that is why it zipped though so darn fast, but lets say I send something to California, the tracking numbers wont show up in their system until its already been in Memphis (a 2.5 hour drive) and already loaded up on a truck and is at the second hub

get a ETA, check it once its getting close to make sure it did not get delayed, other than that your spinning your wheels over delayed data in a batch processing cue (and as much traffic as they have I would not want to see their rates increase to get a real time update)

reality is a pain aint it :wink:

@Jonathan Oxer

In a case like this I would always use a middle layer for getting data to the Arduino. You want the data the Arduino loads to be as light as possible. I would probably use a PHP script that just outputs the data you want to display and let the Arduino load data from that URL.

@Meinaart: Yes, that’s exactly what I was suggesting.

Jon