Remote control with Dropbox

I some time ago wrote about phatIO file system based USB I/O and this is a continuation to this article.

On weekend I successfully tested phatIO Dropbox Integration. The idea is the files on phatIO can be exported to dropbox allowing a cheap way of exporting the phatIO functionality to other computers or other devices that support Dropbox. phatIO Dropbox Integration page says that this has this currently only been tested with phatIO hosted on a Linux and OS X computer and Windows 8 but should work on Vista/Server 2008/Windows 7. I tested that on my old PC running Windows Vista and got the idea working.

To make the phatIO Dropbox Integration to work you need to have several things to work: you need to have Dropbox account, Dropbox sync software installed and connect the phatIO to your Dropbox directory. To make the connection directories have to be linked, this can be done from an Administrator Command Prompt by typing the following to export the entire phatIO filesystem:

mklink /D C:UsersmeDropboxio F:io

where c:UsersmeDropbox is the location of your Dropbox directory and F: is the location of your phatIO device.

According to phatIO Dropbox Integration page and my own experiments Dropbox is not a realtime communication system – latency will be atleast a few seconds (relevant pins going high/low after 2 to 4 seconds after file is edited on remote computer).

This control system is output only system in a sense that you can’t read the input pins on phatIO through the Dropbox (the changes on the files on phatIO will not be updated on Dropbox account).

phatIO Dropbox Integration page says that similar functionality may be possible with Microsoft SkyDrive and Google Drive. I have not tried those yet. Google Drive has a sync application for Windows PCs.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I tried few tricks to try to use Google Drive to control phatIO on Windows PC but I failed on those attempts. Same tricks as for Dropbox do not seem work for Google Drive :-(

    This could be the reason…. and fix ideas here are not for this…!topic/drive/vImyhTG7qWs1-25-false says:

    Dropbox let’s me link other folders on my computer to my Synced folder using Symbolic Links. It let’s me link my Documents folder to my Dropbox and is very convenient. This doesn’t seem to work with Google Drive. Consider this a feature request!

    Or temp fix: move all the files into Google Drive and create a symlink from the original spot

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Windows Update

    First, Dropbox Integration was succesfully tested on Windows 8 – it should work with all versions of Windows from Vista onwards. This means that a phatIO directory can be exported to dropbox and the files edited remotely – even shared with other users. This is a very cheap way of remoting IO – you can send something to a display or turn a device on, from across the world, by simply plugging in a phatIO and installing Dropbox.

    Secondly, phatIO user Nadim – who is using a phatIO as part of an exciting project that scans 14 of the phatIO IO pins onto a PC every second. He’s sent in the Windows C# code that retrieves the value of the phatIO pin files, bypassing the Windows/Filesystem Cache

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