When thinking about ways of improving on the doorbell, it was hard to come up with ways in which it’s most basic purpose could be improved. But after living in apartments for a number of years, the most interesting part isn’t what happens when the doorbell rings, but rather what happens just after.
Our front doors literally connect the interior to the exterior, but more than that, it is the one place where people tend to allow their private, inside selves to be on display to outsiders. When living near other people, it’s hard not to hear when Mr. Johnson has ordered Chinese food for the third time this week, or that Betty has very strong opinions about Jehovah’s Witnesses, or most painfully, when a couple two doors down is having a fight.
So, in the spirit of highlighting this awkward exchange, Andy and I decided to make a doorbell that would allow two people having a fight to hash it out a bit without ever having to open the door. The device on the outside would have a standard doorbell, but also a variety of statements that would allow him/her to respond to any questions or statements by the the person on the inside.
Initially we were going to give the user on the inside a keyboard to type specific questions to the person on the outside, but we were running into some serial issues and had to simplify our device to a more humorous and specific interaction. Even so, the person on the inside is in a more dominant position just by being inside already and controlling the door lock, get’s the chance to ask some pointed (albeit pre-chosen) questions of the guest.
Also, the person on the inside has one extra button that the person outside does not: the FUCK YOU button. This fist-sized button will flash, in all capital letters, “Fuck You” over and over again and prevent the person on the outside from being able to send any messages back in. This implies that the conversation is over.
The code for both of these actually sends the entire message over the XBee serial connection letter by letter. We built it this way since we were planning on sending typed messages). The code for each device is quite similar since this is a conversation and each is displaying to an LCD screen; the only difference is in the content of each message sent and that the device inside has a buzzer to indicate when somebody is at the door.
Here is the arduino code for each: