Building a Magic Mirror: Part 2: Software

So the first task of building a mirror is the software. The original creator of the Magic Mirror created a program to create the base of Magic Mirror with the ability to add other custom information pieces know as modules created by others. Modules can be as simple as a clock to telling scores in a sports league or the current time of your commute using Google API. The program is called MirrorOS and can be downloaded on a Raspian with a simple bash command.

img_1549-e1500183391405.jpg
Installing Mirror OS for the first time

With a large community, there are a tonne of different modules that you can add to personalize your Magic Mirror. These are downloaded by choosing a directory and then running a <git clone> command with the link to github of the module desired. Then, to add the module to the mirror interface, you must add it to the config.js file. This file is where everything had to come together. And was the hardest software issue for me, someone who does not have much coding expereince. It was a challenege when some modules didn’t work and having to trouble shoot small things over and over and over again.

API’s play a huge role in the magic mirror. A lot of the modules I used got information from other sites such as Google Calendar and weather sites. I also used RSS feeds to enable news from multiple sources. These things are what makes the mirror so amazing. It centralizes all this information in a simple screen that you can easily view when getting ready to go to work or just to glance it to get some quick information.

I did not really do a lot of programming before hand, so I ran into a lot of problems. The one that confused me the most was try to get a network remote connected to the mirror. I used the recommended module code and unfortunately that didn’t work. So, I tried a few other things. I tried connecting by different networks and re-write some parts of the code. Eventually I figured out that I had to whitelist my IP address. Now, I wanted to display the IP dress that needs to be connected for the mirror. And now another problem. The entire program would crash when trying to enable this. Back and forth looking and looking. I was frustrated. So I decided to post a bug on the GitHub page. Turns out I forgot a comma. It was embarrassing.  A simple thing that caused me to stay up for 2 hours. However, better now then later I guess. I also was able to learn about a cool tool because of this. JsHint.com is a great site to trouble shoot code. I was able to see the glaring syntax error because of this.

Here is a list of modules that I used:

  • Clock: Obvious, to tell time
  • Current weather: Using an API to display the weather at that moment in an area
  • Weather forecast: Long term weather enabled using an API
  • Newsfeed: Powered by an RSS feed displaying info from CBC Toronto, CBC World, MarketWatch and Google News Business.
  • Stocks: Displays stock prices using Yahoo stocks
  • MMM-Traffic: Displays commute time via the best route using Google Maps
  • MMM-Remote Control: Control magic mirror appearance and power using a separate device connected on the same network
  • Calendar_Monthly: Displays a monthly calendar

And if you are interested, here is a link to my config.js folder from the Magic Mirror operating system: https://pastebin.com/izBe5f3H

 

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