A while back, I saw a device made by Ambient Devices that seemed pretty cool.
It would connect to their wireless data service and depending on how you set it up, display what you wanted on the analog meters. Since then, they've stopped making it and I wasn't too interested in actually buying one anyway because the interesting data that it could display required a subscription.
I've been looking for a project for my Arduino and thought that one of these would be a pretty cool thing to make! Since the Arduino can simulate an analog signal via a duty cycle modulated square wave, it can easily drive an analog meter. So I picked three of these up from my favorite open source hardware store, Adafruit (the founder of Adafruit, Limor Fried, is really a cool person!):
I've pulled the first one apart and it has a nice aluminum plate with the current display that I'm going to modify to my liking. So far, I've decided that one of the meters will be one that goes from 0 to 100% as my work day progresses with a wedge that indicates lunch time. The second will be a display indicating how many tasks I currently have in Evolution (the Linux version of Outlook). I've already coded these for my web server and the number which will drive the analog meter can be found at these sites:
The "|" symbol is a place holder that tells the Arduino when to read the HTML data. Otherwise, you get a bunch of header information. This brings me to the next part of the project, the Ethernet shield. The Arduino is pretty cool by itself, but it needs a way to grab the data from the web server to drive the needles. You have to buy one of these:
I have learned enough C programming to get the Arduino to grab the information from my web server, convert it into a usable format and drive the needle. To further increase the awesomeness, I've also purchased one of these digital displays:
With this display, I'm going to try to get a clock that syncs to the NIST atomic clock and a thermocouple to read the temperature in the room. That will give me two lines to display something like sports scores and stock quotes. I have pretty much everything that I need including a box from Hobby Lobby in which to put everything. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to code everything, make the box and get soldering! I think it's going to be a pretty cool thing to have on my desk at work!