Need something to keep you busy this weekend? Look no further. The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. We’ve dug through all the online tutorials on the Web, and gone the extra mile to pinpoint projects that are equal parts easy, affordable, and fun. So put on your work pants, grab your tool belt, and head to the garage — it’s time to start building!
No matter who you are or where you live, we’re willing to bet that your ISP probably sucks. Your broadband is probably slower than advertised, and on certain occasions (usually the most inconvenient times possible), it probably gets so slow you can hardly load a kitten gif on Reddit. Obviously, this is no good — but most of us simply don’t have the patience to call customer service, wait on hold for half an hour, and then complain to a person that probably can’t fix the problem anyway; so we just let it slide.
But, believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be like this. With a handful of cheap electronics and a few lines of code, you can actually create a robot that logs your Internet speeds throughout the day, and then automatically complains to your ISP through Twitter. You don’t have to do it yourself! And don’t let that whole “lines of code” part scare you off, either. You don’t need any programming experience to make this contraption. There are a handful of really smart people in the world who have published their code online. All you have to do is get the right hardware and make sure your copy/paste skills are up to snuff. Here’s what you need to make it happen:
Yup. That’s it. Once you’ve got everything together, you just hook up your keyboard and monitor to your Raspberry Pi, then fire everything up. From there, just follow these awesome instructions from Alsdair Allan of Make. He breaks down all the big, scary Python programming into a series of easy-to-follow steps — so as long as you know how to copy/paste, you should be golden.
Oh — and one last thing. Technically the aforementioned tutorial shows you how to log your Internet speeds and automatically save them to a Google Docs spreadsheet with IFTTT. This is great for keeping track of your broadband, and will help you hold your ISP accountable if your speeds are consistently lower than what you’re paying for. On the other hand, if you want to take things a step further and send out an automatic complaint whenever your speeds dip below a certain point, you’ll need to switch up Allan’s IFTTT recipe and use the Twitter channel instead of Google Docs.
If all goes well, you might never have to suffer through glitchy, slow-loading kitten gifs ever again!