BeaconAir – Track your Pi

How It Works

As I walk around with the BeaconAir Portable Pi in a hip pack, the lights come on and off [14]. However, the iBeacons are not very reliable and vary a lot, even while sitting in one spot, as indicated by a little red pin bouncing around on the control panel. A lot could be done to smooth this out with a little signal processing – at the cost of response time.


The BeaconAir project has been a great experience for learning about iBeacons, Bluetooth 4.0, and Philips Hue lights. It was very satisfying to figure out a reliable way to read iBeacons and determine a physical position with a Raspberry Pi.

One idea for another project revolving around iBeacons reverses the system, wherein I carry an iBeacon and build a mesh network of Raspberry Pis, all listening to the iBeacon via my BLE scanner program. The program would then communicate the RSSI information to a central Pi that figures out the location of the iBeacon and reports it to the control panel.

Granted, this approach is no cheaper than buying a bunch of iBeacons and one Pi, but it would have some really interesting data flows, and the response time could be excellent. For the fashion conscious, the wanderer would just have to carry a small iBeacon in a pocket instead of strapping on the hip pack with the Raspberry Pi. And, yes, I have also figured out that if I hang an iBeacon on the collar of Panther the cat, it can be used to trigger the MouseAir to fire a mouse, which is a much cheaper solution than an elaborate RFID cat chip tag reader [15]. The poor, much maligned cat will need to have a collar now.

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