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Planet hack-day

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 18:00
    Say Watt? A Talking Multimeter?

    talkingMultimeter

    After a request from one of his friends, [Mastro Gippo] managed to put together a talking multimeter to be used by blind persons working in electronics. He wanted a feature-rich meter that had serial output, and recalling this Hackaday article from a few years back led him to find a DT-4000ZC on eBay, which has serial output on a 3.5mm jack. (Though, he actually recommends this knockoff version which comes with excellent documentation).

    It turns out there aren’t many talking meter options available other than this expensive one and a couple of discontinued alternatives. [Mastro Gippo] needed to start from scratch with the voice synthesizer, which proved to be as easy as recording a bunch of numbers and packing them onto an SD card to be read by an Arduino running the SimpleSDAudio library.

    He found a small, battery-powered external speaker used for rocking out with music on cell phones and hooked it up to the build, stuffing all the electronics into an aluminum case. Stick around after the jump for a quick video of the finished product!

    Filed under: tool hacks

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 15:00
    A Hexacopter with FPV

    hexcopterRetrospective

    [Robert's] been hard at work becoming a hexacopter expert over the past two years, and he’s offered up a retrospective of his multi rotor build experience since he first clicked the “buy” button on Hobbyking. He’s come a long way from his first build, which used inexpensive carbon rods and 3D-printed parts for a frame, supported by scrap wood and hot glue. It met its end in his car; exposed to direct sunlight, the 3D-printed components melted.

    The latest iteration—seen above on the right—is a complete redesign, with a laser-cut frame that dramatically reduced the overall weight and new “Donkey” motors off Hobbyking. It’s strong enough to lift a 1.6kg (3.5lbs) stuffed animal suspended from a rope! Most recently [Robert] has worked out streaming first-person video after fitting a camera to the hexacopter via a 3D-printed attachment and pairing the experience with Zeiss Cinemizer 3D glasses. He still has some bugs to work out, namely screws loosening from vibrations and adding a HUD to the display so he’ll know when the battery levels are low. You can see the poor teddy bear getting hanged along with some other videos, including the first-person video flight, after the break.

    Filed under: toy hacks

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 12:00
    DIY CNC Dust Collection Really Sucks!

    CNCdust-main2

    CNC Routers are great. If you’ve ever used one you know this but you also know that they will cover the machine and everything around it with a layer of dust. It is certainly possible to use a shop vac to suck up the dust coming from the router, however, the only problem with that is the shop vac’s filter will clog with dust and lose suction, defeating the intent of your vac system.

    CNCdust-assembled2[Mike Douglas] was ready to step up his CNC game and decided to make his own dust separator. This design is extremely simple and only uses a couple 5 gallon buckets, a few PVC fittings and pieces of wood. To keep the cost down and the style up, the accompanying ‘shop-vac’ is also made from 5 gallon bucket with a vacuum lid. The project is well documented so head over to his site and check out the build process.

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    CNCdust-howitworks

    A dust separator does exactly what its name implies, it separates the dust and debris from the air before entering the vacuum. The following diagram shows how it works: First, a vacuum creates low-pressure inside the dust separator. That low-pressure draws the dust-filled air into the dust separator. The inlet tube directs the incoming air tangent to the circular chamber. Large debris falls quickly down past the baffle and into the collection chamber. The dust enters and is thrown against the walls of the separator as it spins around. While the dust is traveling around the circumference of the separator, gravity pulls it down into the collection chamber. The now much-cleaner air then travels up through the outlet to the vacuum.

    Now that we have a dust separator doing its job, would you want to stand beside your CNC machine holding the vacuum hose collecting the newly created dust? Probably not. Neither did [Gerg], and that is why he made a dust shoe for his ShopBot. It is made from scrap polycarbonate that was kicking around the shop. There are two main components of the design, the top part that attaches to the router and the bottom part that has the skirt. The bottom piece attaches to the top with magnets which allows the skirt to be removed quickly so that the tool bit can be changed easily. And in case you want to make your own dust shoe, [Gerg] has made the dxf files available.

    CNCdust-shoe2

    Filed under: cnc hacks, tool hacks

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 09:00
    Learning Assembly with a Web Based Assembler

    AssemblyOnlineVery few people know assembly. [Luto] seeks to make learning assembly just a little bit easier with his “fully functional web-based assembler development environment, including a real assembler, emulator and debugger.”

    These days, you can be a microcontroller expert without knowing a thing about assembly. While you don’t NEED to know assembly, it actually can help you understand quite a bit about embedded programming and how your C code actually works. Writing a small part of your code in assembly can reduce code size and speed things up quite a bit. It also can result in some very cool projects, such as using Java to program microcontrollers.

    With high quality example code, it is very easy to get started learning assembly. The emulator consists of a microcontroller with 32 registers, hooked up to three LEDs, two buttons, and a potentiometer. This is way better than painfully learning assembly on real hardware. Be sure to check out the online demo! Being able to step through each line of code and clearly see the result help make assembly easier to use and understand. It would be great to see this kind of tool widely adopted in engineering programs.

    Have you used assembly in any of your projects? Let us know how it went and why you choose to use assembly

    Filed under: Microcontrollers

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 06:05
    Hackaday At MakeDC

    makedc

    Last Wednesday, our Hackaday travels took us to the Washington, DC area for a visit to NOVA Labs near Dulles and a yet-to-be opened Metro stop. Also on our itinerary was a visit to MakeDC, an informal get together for people around the nation’s capitol to show off their latest projects and builds.

    The highlight of the evening was a pair of talks from [Julian] and [Taylor] on a project they did for work: a social cooler, or a locked box holding cool drinks that will only open when enough people send a text to a certain number. We’ve got [Julian]‘s talk on video, but despite our fancy new camera gear for this sorta thing, [Taylor]‘s demo of what an Electric Imp can do was lost to the digital wastes.

    Aside from [Julian]‘s talk on APIs and [Taylor]‘s talk on the Electric Imp, there were a few impromptu presentations from the attendees. One of the most thorough was the duo from Shiny & Jackal Cosplay, crafters of EVA foam and LEDs. Truth be told, Hackaday doesn’t see many of these ‘softer’, cosplay and prop making builds in the tip line, and that’s a shame; the amount of skill that goes into these costumes is at least as equal as a woodsmith that can build fine furniture using only hand tools.

    Perhaps a little premature, but TechShop is opening a new location in Arlington, VA at the end of the month. The GM [Addam Hall] was there scoping out the hacks and letting the attendees know there’s going to be a huge, awesome shop that’s down town in Crystal City. Close enough to public transportation, anyway, because anyone who drives in DC is certifiable.

    The last item of note isn’t a build yet, but it’s shaping up to be pretty cool. It’s BRWRY – pronounced, ‘brewery’ – and will be a semi-automated beer making machine. Robots and beer, what can’t you love?

    We’d like to thank [Zach], [Julian], [Taylor], and all the other guys from iStrategyLabs for putting together a nice evening of hanging out, drinking beer, eating pizza, and talking about what you’ve built. We had a great time, and we’re looking forward to the next one, as well as any other similar get together in other cities.

    Filed under: Featured

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 03:00
    Home Made Resin Based 3D Printer is Incredible

    DSC_1964

    Resin based 3D printers (SLA) are the next big thing, and while they may seem daunting at first, in some ways they are actually simpler than FDM machines with less moving parts! Loosely following an Instructable, [Dan Beaven] has just finished putting together his own home-made 3D DLP Printer, and it’s bloody brilliant.

    He owes a lot of thanks to [Tristram Budel] and his incredibly detailed Instructables guide on building  a 3D DLP printer, but [Dan] has also added quite a bit of his own flair to the build. Most notably is his method of separating layers from the vat of resin — most designs tilt the bed slightly to counter the suction forces, but his slides the vat back and forth along the Y-axis, which seems to work extremely well.

    The printer is built out of 1″ T-slot aluminum and has a NEMA 17 motor that provides the Y-axis movement along two linear rods for the vat. The Z-axis stage uses a NEMA 23 motor and has a whopping 14″ of travel. Combined with a 104mm x 204mm build plate, this thing can print some decently sized parts!

    To cure the resin, he’s using a 1080p DLP projector with no modifications. To conserve space, it is mounted at a 90 degree angle, and uses a small mirror to reflect the image onto the build plate inside of the vat. To pump the resin in and out of the vat, he’s using an industrial peristaltic pump he bought off eBay — a word to the wise, it needs to be flushed with isopropyl alcohol after each use! He learned the hard way…

    For more info on printing in resin, don’t forget to check out our column on 3D Printering: You Want UV Resin?

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

  • Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 00:00
    Bitbanging USB On Low Power ARMs

    M0

    With the Adafruit Trinket, the Digispark, and some very clever work with the smallest microcontroller Atmel offers, it looks like the ‘in’ thing to do for embedded software developers is to bitbang the USB protocol on hardware that shouldn’t support it. There are a lot of very small ARM chips out there without USB support, so it was only a matter of time before someone was able to bitbang USB on the ARM Cortex M0+.

    The board above is based on an Energy Micro EFM32ZG, a very small 24-pin QFN device with up to 32 kB of Flash and 17 GPIOs. As with all the bitbanged USB hacks, the differential data lines are attached directly to the microcontroller. A 24 MHz crystal is needed, but the team behind the project is working on using the internal RC oscillator instead.

    The code is portable with minimal changes between other manufacturer’s Cortex M0+ chips, and with a little work, this could become a very, very cheap USB-programmable ARM dev board, something the community could certainly use.

    Filed under: ARM, Microcontrollers

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 21:00
    Drilling Into a Laptop: Extreme Hinge Repair

    final-2

    What is it with laptop companies spending millions on design and aesthetics… and then using a cheap hinge design that is almost guaranteed to break? After [Peter Zotov] spent hours trying to find a replacement online, he decided to take matters into his own hands with this slightly unorthodox hinge repair.

    The problems lies in the design of the hinge mounting to the lid. First, they’re using a non-standard screw sizes, slightly larger than an M2. Second, it’s threaded into cast aluminum — and to make matters worse, it doesn’t even look like there is sufficient thread engagement! A good rule of thumb is about 2 times thread diameter for aluminum — 1-1.5 times for steel. And it’s not just ASUS doing this, we’ve seen numerous laptops of different brands where the hinge goes after a year or two — what happened to cyclic stress tests?

    Anyway, [Peter] decided to drill out the existing threads to allow for larger bolts. He threw his precious laptop up onto his CNC mill (a drill press would do just fine), and popped larger holes straight through the lid. This allowed him to put three standard M2 screws in place with a nut and washer. We admit it’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s saved him from getting a new laptop just because of planned corporate obsolescence.

    Filed under: laptops hacks

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 18:00
    Build Your Own Radio Clock Transmitter

    NIST

    Deep in the Colorado foothills, there are two radio transmitters that control the time on millions of clocks all across North America. It’s WWVB, the NIST time signal radio station that sends the time from several atomic clocks over the airwaves to radio controlled clocks across the continent. You might think replicating a 70 kW, multi-million dollar radio transmitter to set your own clock might be out of reach, but with a single ATtiny45, just about everything is possible.

    Even though WWVB has enough power to set clocks in LA, New York, and the far reaches of Canada, even a pitifully underpowered transmitter – such as a microcontroller with a long wire attached to a pin PWMing at 60kHz – will be more than enough to overpower the official signal and set a custom time on a WWVB-controlled clock. This signal must be modulated, of course, and the most common radio controlled clocks use an extremely simple amplitude modulation that can be easily replicated by changing the duty cycle of the carrier. After that, it’s a simple matter of encoding the time signal.

    The end result of this build is an extremely small one-chip device that can change the time of any remote-controlled clock. We can guess this would be useful if your radio controlled clock isn’t receiving a signal for some reason, but the fact that April 1st is just a few days away gives us a much, much better idea.

    Filed under: ATtiny Hacks, clock hacks, radio hacks

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 15:00
    Hackerspace Tour: Xerocraft In Tucson, Arizona

    xero

    While we try to get out to as many hackerspaces as possible, we can’t be everywhere. Not wanting to wait for a Hackaday compatriot to roll through their dusty town, the folks over at Xerocraft in Tucson, Arizona sent in their own video tour of their space.

    We’ve seen the Xerocraft space before when [Caleb] rolled through town on his south-west tour a few years ago. Since then, a lot has changed; they have a new, larger, and cleaner space a few miles north of the old one. There’s also a huge increase in the number of tools. While the old space had all the usual metalworking tools, the new space has a much improved wood shop and more 3D printers than anyone can shake a stick at.

    From the video, it looks like a great space, and from their blog it looks like they’ve got some really cool projects under their belt. If you’re a member of a hackerspace, we’re always looking for some tour videos. Be sure to send them in so you can share your space with the rest of the Hackaday readership.

    Filed under: Hackerspaces

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 12:01
    It’s Not 2015 Yet But Marty and His Hoverboard Are Already Here!

    mharti

    Okay now this is seriously awesome. [Rodger Cleye] has made a real working Hoverboard.

    You guys might remember the recent [Tony Hawk] and [Christopher Lloyd] viral Hoverboard hoax video… Well, this isn’t that. Nope, not even close. It’s real.

    The Hoverboard is a quadrotor on steroids — it features four 1200W brushless motors driving 12″ props, a massive 13.4Ah 5S Li-Po battery, and a [Marty McFly] mannequin wearing the classic red vest. He’s counter-balanced [Marty] and the battery around the rotors which makes for a surprisingly smooth flight. It even has a run-time of over 5 minutes, thanks to a whopping 83% efficiency using the 12″ props.

    [Rodger] designed and simulated the entire system in eCalc before construction — He had first attempted a bi-copter design, but opted for the tried and true quad-rotor instead. The frame is made of 1/2″ PVC pipe to conserve the mass budget, but altogether it still weighs an unbelievable 20lbs! How close are we to being able to give toddlers the ability to fly?

    Just take a look at the following video — we’re seriously impressed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsdRZvKFcFo

    This has gotta be one of the biggest home-made quads we’ve seen so far. Mind you the Spruce Goose of quadrotors is still a bit bigger…

    Filed under: drone hacks

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 09:01
    Crafternoon: Forget Potatoes, We’re Making Stamps with Lasers

    No, that’s not Heisenberg without his hat. It’s [Jens], and he laser-cut a stamp of his face out of EVA foam. He made the laser cutter himself, which we covered a couple of months ago.

    Let’s take a brief interlude to discuss your beautiful eyeballs. Keep them safe, okay? If you’re going to play with lasers, be smart and protect yourself according to the wattage and wavelength. Alright, back to business.

    [Jens] started by making a stencil from a photo using this tutorial. He added a frame and supports around his face to keep everything where it should be. [Jens] then turned to Inkscape to generate the g-code using the laser plugin and then proceeded to cut his countenance into EVA foam.

    After gluing the foam to a wood backing, he cut off the supports. Now it’s ready to stamp. You could use a brayer if you have one or maybe your wife’s rolling pin to apply whatever ink or paint you want to use. [Jens] loaded up his stamp with a sponge.

    Filed under: laser hacks

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 06:01
    Open Source SwitchMote Promises Easy Home Automation

    moteino

    [Felix Rusu] is fast becoming a big name in home automation with his clever Moteino systems. His latest is called the SwitchMote which is a super easy way to upgrade your light switches for home automation, and he’s just released the source!

    The SwitchMote is a drop in wireless light switch which lets you control a standard AC load, limited to 100W at this time. It uses a solid state relay (SSR) to perform the switching, but like any project involving mains electricity… MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!

    It makes use of a Moteino (duh) which is a wireless Arduino clone that operates over RF. We’ve seen it used before to control a Keurig coffee maker, operate a garage door over the internet, and even text you when your sump pump fails and your basement is about to flood!

    Excited? Take a look at his GitHub repository, and check out how it works in the following video.

    Did we mention you can program it wirelessly as well?

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, home hacks

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 03:01
    Need to Reference the US Constitution Fast? How’s 6 Seconds Sound?

    CONSTI2GO-Thibault-Brevet-2

    Well, unless you know exactly what you’re referencing it’s going to take you a lot longer, but this clever serial receipt printer hack will let you print the whole darn thing in just 6 seconds!

    Commissioned by [Jeff Goldenson] for his LABRARY.bike (quite literally a pop-up library on a bike), it was actually shown off at SXSW Interactive — did anyone see it in person? The artist-hacker who created it is [Thibault Brevet], the guy who brought us the DRM chair that only works 8 times before it falls to pieces.

    Anyway, this cool and rather suspicious looking tube with a serial cord hanging out contains an Arduino, a max232 chip and a small Li-Po battery. The Arduino communicates with the printer through the max232 chip by converting the TTL signal to RS-232. It has a single button on top, which when it is connected to the printer will send out the US Constitution over the serial interface via ESC/p language.

    Did we mention how fast it is?

    Receipt printers are a lot of fun once you figure out how to communicate with them. After that you’ll be wasting receipt paper like no tomorrow with this extremely wasteful (but awesome) printer based video game!

    [Thanks Itay!]

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, misc hacks

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 00:01
    Stealth Bluetooth Stereo: It’s a Jeep Thing

    jeep-bluetooth

    [Feueru] wanted to update the sound system in his 1998 Jeep Wrangler. The problem is that soft top Jeeps are notorious for radio theft. His solution was to build his own stealth bluetooth stereo. The music comes from his Nexus 5 via bluetooth. A Fusion MS-BT 100 waterproof bluetooth receiver picks up the tunes. From there the signal is passed through the one external control, a line level volume knob. A “BMWx-43 300 Watt” amplifier provides the power to drive the Jeep’s speakers. We’re a bit dubious about the 300 Watt rating, as well as the “Only from the mind of a German” catch phrase. Hey, at least the real BMW didn’t have the amplifiers destroyed at the US port due to trademark issues. 

    [Feueru] used a standard DIN radio install kit for his Jeep. In place of a headunit, he glued an ABS plastic sheet. The ABS provided a good place to mount his volume control. That volume knob was a bit lonely, so [Feueru] added “Plan B”, his winch controls. The final result looks… well, it looks like a single knob, which is exactly what [Feueru] was going for. Any would-be car radio thief would pass this right by. The only thing missing is an actual FM receiver. Sure, there is a bit of loss when using a bluetooth audio path. However, this is a soft top Jeep with stock speakers, so it’s really not noticeable to [Feueru].

    [via reddit]

    Filed under: transportation hacks

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 21:01
    Hackaday Visits NOVA Labs And Small Batch Assembly

    header

    A few days ago Hackaday visited NOVA Labs, one of the premier hackerspaces around Washington, DC. In our video tour, co-founder [Justin Leto] shows off the space, going through all the awesome tools, workspaces, and projects his space has put together over the years.

    One of the most impressive parts of NOVA Labs is the incredible amount of woodworking equipment. Everything from a Blacktoe CNC router, table and bandsaws, jointers, planers, real woodworking benches, and enough clamps to hold anything together are from a NOVA member that is co-locating his equipment for the rest of the hackerspace to share.

    Apart from the woodworking tools, NOVA also has a few laser cutters and enough 3D printers for all the octopodes and Yoda heads you could ever imagine. A few of the members put together 3D build classes, and the machines being constructed are very, very cool. They’re using a Raspi with OctoPrint in their latest builds, attaching a camera to the frame and using a tablet for the interface. It’s just about the smoothest and cleanest 3D printer interface possible without using a computer.

    There’s a lot of cool stuff happening at NOVA; the DC Area Drone User Group is the area’s largest group of unmanned aerial vehicles not housed in a five-sided building, and have done some aerial mapping for the metro station that will soon displace the hackerspace. NOVA also hosted a mini maker faire last weekend with over four thousand attendees. Impressive, to say the least.

    Also at NOVA Labs is a small business the guys are incubating headed up by [Bob Coggeshall], also known as one of the guys who wrote sudo. It’s Small Batch Assembly, a very cool service that takes panelized PCBs and reels of components and assembles them. While we were there, [Bob] was assembling a few dozen boards stuffed with WS2812 LEDs for the R2D2 Builders Club.

    [Bob] is using a very cool and very expensive Manncorp pick and place machine for placing all the components, squeegeeing the solder paste through Kapton film he laser cut on the NOVA Labs machines. It’s only a small-scale operation, but when it comes to placing thousands of SMD components for a few dozen boards, there probably isn’t a better way.

    You can check out the video of NOVA, Small Batch Assembly, and a whole bunch of pics below.

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    Filed under: Hackerspaces

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 17:31
    Hackaday Video: Safe Area Operation for Components (and Helicopters)

    We’re back and this time talking about Safe Operating Area also called Safe Area Operation (SAO) which is short for the combination of things that can conspire to ruin your design. We also talk about helicopters.

    Why take all of this time to discuss SAO you might ask, and what is that business about helicopters? Depending on the design there may be quite a bit of tedious math involved and sometimes there is just no avoiding it. Alternatively if you can get a feel for when math is and is not critical (based on design choices), it should be easier to get your next project up and running while still obeying the rules of the road.

    Safe Area Operation Diagram

    Safe Area Operation Diagram

    Components, especially those that generate heat like the Power MOSFET shown above, come with a fairly well-defined set of operational specifications. Those specs make up the SAO; they’re the circumstances under which you can ensure consistent operation while maintaining the reliability of the part . So while there is a time for detail there is also the conceptual phase where one might hold up ideas to the problem and check the fit while using some placeholder type values. 

    So unbeknownst to the gentle viewers at home, we have a plan; No we are not interested in world domination, we tried that with the Z80 and failed. What we ARE interested in is helping up and coming designers, including even a few of us burnt-out types, to get an intuitive feel for different ways to solve some common problems.

    Safe Area Operation

    Safe Area Operation discussed.

    An example design where SAO may be involved could have several facets: Should we use switched instead of linear operation? Do we need to be careful picking the right part or will any one of several works? Will it get hot?

    If you don’t know what we’re talking about, the video at the top includes an excellent example at about 3:40 when the rheostat for a decades-old motorized tank is shown. The crude motor controller was in the wrong position for too long creating so much heat that it melted a hole in the plastic case. While this is a simple example we can view it as an example of trading off resistance, current and voltage while hopefully keeping it cool.

    Deadman's Curve and SAO

    Deadman’s Curve and SAO

    This brings us back full circle; why involve the venerable helicopter and is that just a cheap stunt to try to get interest? The answer is yes, it’s a stunt — but helicopters do have an SAO, or Deadman’s Curve, that is graphed between height and forward velocity. The Deadman’s Curve simply means that there is a huge area where the craft can operate properly without worrying about the math, and then there is an area where it’s all about the math.

    Safe Area Operation vs Time

    Safe Area Operation vs Time

    Still with us after the tanks and helicopters? Great, time for the actual math. At the 5:30 mark you’ll get the meat and potatoes of how to read and understand an SAO graph like the one seen to the right.

    We can also trade off time for heat and short pulses can consequently handle higher current as shown by the dashed lines.  This can be useful in other devices such as LED’s where the human eye registers the peak output during the short pulses and yet, thanks to a phenomenon known as persistence of vision, doesn’t record the fact that the LED spends a portion of time turned off and cooling.

    Near the end of the video we discuss why the “ON resistance” — often shown as RDS(on) — of a MOSFET has a huge effect on power dissipation for that part. This is due to the fact that with a restive load the power dissipation goes up with the square of the current times the resistance of the load (P = I2R). A very small change in the on resistance will have a very large effect on the power dissipation. For an understanding of the creation and effects of temperature check the last Hackaday Video regarding heat.

    At the end of the day all of this means that if you are on the wrong side of the SAO equation your design can get overheated or otherwise stressed and suffer from a variety of issues that should be avoided. SAO isn’t used to prove something is impossible, more often it is one of the tools for finding out what is possible and what the trade-offs are. Sometimes the answer is the designer needs to start over or look for other approaches to a problem if the SAO determines that “you can’t get there from here”, or in the words of the WOPR  ”The only winning move is not to play”. Often this means go switched or go home.  The good news is that there are some real kick-ass switching outputs available these days.

    Filed under: Featured, how-to

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 12:00
    Authentic Blue Blueprints

    blue

    At one point in history, blueprints were actually blue. Now, if you even see a dead tree version of plans or assemblages, they’re probably printed off with a plotter or large format printer. You can, however, make your own blueprints at home, as [Tyler] shows us in his Hackaday Project.

    Back in the olden days, master drawings were traced onto large sheets of transparent film. These master prints were then laid over paper prepared with Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate to create an insoluble Prussian Blue background for the prints. Developing is easy – just expose the transparent positive and undeveloped paper to UV light, in the form of fluorescent bulbs or the sun.

    [Tyler] began his blueprint creation process by getting a few design sketches of the RSI Aurora and Nautilus, editing them on a computer, and printing them out on transparency sheets. A solution of equal parts Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate were painted onto a piece of paper and allowed to dry. Exposing was a simple matter of laying the transparency over the undeveloped paper and setting it out in the sun for 20 minutes or so. After that, it’s a simple matter of washing off the unexposed chemicals and letting the newly created blueprint dry.

    It’s a simple technique, but also very, very cool. Not exactly practical, given a plotter can spit out an architectural or assembly drawing of any building, vehicle, or device in a few minutes, but just the ticket for art pieces or extremely odd engineers.

    Thanks [Sarah] for sending this in.

    Filed under: chemistry hacks, classic hacks

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 09:01
    Talking Bacon Plushie Greets You At The Door

    BaconMaterials

    The folks over at [gTar] decided to create a motion activated talking bacon plush toy to greet visitors to their office.

    They started with a toy called My First Bacon, available from ThinkGeek — it’s a plush toy that exclaims “I’m Bacon!” when you squeeze it. But then they cut him open. We can’t imagine what must have been going through this poor self-aware Bacon’s mind!

    The hack itself is quite simple. They are basically replacing the “squeeze” circuit with an IR motion sensor — a PIR sensor from SparkFun to be precise. In addition to that they needed a small inverter IC. This is because the standard talking bacon module requires a positive leading edge signal in order to trigger the audio output, and their PIR sensor drives an output pin low — slap on an inverter IC (they had an old schmitt trigger lying around) and you’re ready to go!

    In order to reduce the sensing area of the motion sensor they have recessed it slightly inside [Bacon] using a paper towel roll. A carefully placed hole was made in the [Bacon's] tummy, and a familiar white globe sticks out slightly, providing a narrow beam of motion sensing capabilities — just right for catching people coming into the office.

    Filed under: toy hacks

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - 06:01
    Modular Arduino Based Infrared Thermometer

    IRTemperature

    [Brian] started out with a clear and concise goal, “allow a regular human to associate an audible tone with a temperature from an infrared contactless thermometer.” With his latest project, the ESPeri.IRBud, he has achieved this goal.

    One of our favorite parts of [Brian's] post is his BOM. Being able to easily see that the IR temperature sensor costs $26 at DigiKey is unbelievably helpful to readers. This specific sensor was chosen because others have successfully interfaced it with the Arduino. Not having to reinvent the wheel is good thing! For the build, [Brian] decided to hook up the IR temperature sensor to a re-purposed flexible iPhone headset wire. Having used headphone sockets to connect to the sensor and speakers, the actual device is quite modular. Hearing this thing in action is quite cool, it almost sounds like old-school GameBoy music! Check it out after the break.

    Have you used an IR temperature sensor in one of your projects? Let us know.

    Filed under: Microcontrollers

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