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Planet hack-day

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 21:00
    WS2812b Ambilight Clone For The Raspi


    For how often the Raspberry Pi is used as a media server, and how easy it is to connect a bunch of LEDs to the GPIO pins on the Pi, we’re surprised we haven’t seen something like Hyperion before. It uses the extremely common WS2812b individually controllable RGB LEDs to surround the wall behind your TV with the colors on the edges of the screen.

    One of the big features of Hyperion is the huge number of LEDs it’s able to control; a 50 LED strip only eats up about 1.5% of the Pi’s CPU. It does this with a “Mini UART” implemented on the Pi running at 2MHz.

    There’s only one additional component needed to run a gigantic strip of RGB LEDs with a Pi – an inverter of some sort made with an HCT-series logic chip. After that, you’ll only need to connect the power and enjoy a blinding display behind your TV or monitor.

    Thanks [emuboy] for sending this one in.


    Filed under: led hacks, Raspberry Pi

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 18:01
    3D Printering: Custom RC Camera Mount Takes To The Sky


    3D Printers are only good for printing trinkets and doodads, right?  Not really. Although, I do print the occasional useless object, most of my prints are used for projects I’m working on or to meet a need that I have. These needs are the project’s design requirements and I’d like to share the process and techniques I use when creating a functional 3D object.

    My pal [Toshi] has RC Airplanes and flies often. I have an Action Camera that I never use. Why not combine the two and have some fun? The only thing standing in our way was a method to mount the camera to the airplane. 3D printing makes it easy. If you have a popular vehicle or application, there may be something already available on a 3D model repository like Thingiverse. Our situation was fairly unique I decided to design and print my own mount.


    Let’s start with the camera placement. Looking at the plane, there are two pretty obvious spots that would be good places to mount the camera; on the wing strut or the cross-bar between the pontoons. Certainly mounting the camera to the rectangular pontoon cross-bar would have been far easier than on the angled airfoil-shaped wing strut, but after giving it some thought, mounting on the strut would give a better view of the aircraft. I wanted part of the plane in the field of view.

    Now we have an idea of where this thing is going to mount we have to take some measurements and make some notes. As you can see below my notes are super crude (and may have some extra doodles on there) but have the necessary information I need to design the camera mount. If you look hard you can even see I have a couple of brainstormed mount ideas, including a hinged design I determined would be unnecessarily complicated.


    The wing strut is soft foam-filled plastic and is in the shape of a teardrop. To prevent damage to the strut when the camera is mounted, the shape of the mating portion of the clamp should be similar in shape. To do this, I just measured the length of the strut profile and both the thickness of the leading and trailing edges. These dimensions were used when creating the profile of the cutout in the clamp. Notice, I also added some chamfers at the leading and trailing sides of the cutout to prevent any potential pinching.


    Keep It Simple, Stupid. Sometimes low-tech is the best way to go. The wing strut is at some angle, an angle I don’t know. I want the camera to be square to the ground, not angled like the strut. I used a method similar to a storey pole to record the struts angle and emulate it in my modelling software. With the plane on the floor a piece of paper was held with one edge also square to the floor. The angle of the strut was traced on the paper. At this point it is possible to measure the angle with a protractor but I just held it up to my computer screen and adjusted the angle of the mount until it matched my trace. Low-tech but effective.

    3DP-nutsboltsIt is pretty standard for cameras to have a 1/4″-20 female thread on the bottom for mounting to a stand. My camera was no different. The main mount is going to have a through-hole in it for the attachment screw to pass. Having a 1/4″ hole and a 1/4″ screw is going to cause some assembly difficulty, specifically the screw not easily going through the hole, able to turn freely or causing misalignment. There are industry standards for this exact situation, Google “clearances hole sizes” to find out what is appropriate for your screw size, there are a lot of charts available out there. The projects I work on require me to reference this type of information quite often so I downloaded a great app called ‘Nuts & Bolts‘. Notice on the bottom right of the screen it shows the clearance hole sizes. I’ll be using the free fitting recommendation, 0.2660 inch diameter.

    I could have just had a hole in the main camera mount and screwed a bolt in to secure it but a design requirement was that no tools would be required for installation or removal. A 3D printed knob would do just fine. I had some 1 inch long 1/4″-20 bolts kicking around so that is what I decided to use. Since the bolt was so long, it would bottom out in the camera before it secured the camera to the mount. That extra length will have to be compensated for when designing the knob.

    The depth of the female threaded hole on the bottom of the camera measured to be 0.200 inches. Since the intent is to NOT bottom out the screw before the camera was secure I backed off this measurement to 0.150 inches for use in the calculation:

    BoltLength - ExposedThread - MountThickness = KnobThickness
     1.0 - 0.150 - 0.300 = 0.550 inches

    0.550 inches is how long the spacer portion of the knob will be.

    There are two knobs and 3mm x 25mm screws that are used to secure the camera mount to the strut. I made knobs for the screws the same way I did for the main camera screw. The main difference is that these screws didn’t have a hex head to transmit torque and prevent the knobs from spinning on the screws. The holes in the knobs were made to have no clearance at 3mm in diameter and the screws were glued into the knobs for a permanent installation.

    These 3mm screws engage captive nuts in the main clamp body. I used ‘Nuts & Bolts’ again to find out both the clearance hole size for the 3mm screws and the hex size of the 3mm nuts. The main clamp body has hexagonal recesses a little larger than the nuts, the nuts of which are glued in place.

    Overall, I’m extremely happy with the final result. Installation to the aircraft takes only a few moments and is very secure. The mount location turned out to be in the perfect spot showing just a touch of the engine cowl. And the best part is it didn’t drop the camera! Check out the video of the maiden joy-ride below.


    3D Printering is a weekly column that digs deep into all things related to 3D Printing. If you have questions or ideas for future installments please sending us your thoughts.

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Hackaday Columns

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 15:00
    The Mostly 3D Printed Violin


    While Thingiverse is filled with Ocarinas, there’s little in the way of printable instruments for more serious musicians. [David Perry] hopes to change this with the F-F-Fiddle, the mostly 3D printed full-size electric violin.

    The F-F-Fiddle is an entry for the LulzBot March 3D Printing Challenge to make a functional, 3D printed musical instrument. Already there are a few very, very interesting submissions like this trombone, but [David]‘s project is by far the most mechanically complex; unlike the other wind and percussion instruments found in the contest, there are a log of stresses found in a violin, and printing a smooth, curved fingerboard is quite the challenge.

    While there are a few non-printed parts, namely the strings, a drill rod used as a truss rod, some awesome looking tuners, and of course the piezo pickups – the majority of this violin, including the bridge, is 3D printed. It’s an amazing piece of work, and after listening to the video (below), sounds pretty good too.

    You can grab all the files on Thingiverse and read up on the build at Openfab PDX.


    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, musical hacks

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 12:00
    Shapeoko 2 Mods: Dust Mitigation and Limit Switches



    Not long ago the Shapeoko 2 came out. In case you missed it, the Shapeoko 2 is the 2nd generation bench-top CNC Router of the namesake. All axes roll on Makerslide and v-wheels. The X and Y axes are belt driven, power is transmitted to the Z axis by lead screw.

    As with most products, there will be people who must hack, mod or upgrade their as-received item.  If you are a regular Hackaday reader, you are probably one of those people. And as one of those people, you would expect there have been a few individuals that have not left this machine alone.

    CNC Machines are dumb, they do what you tell them. Sometimes us humans ask them to do things that result in the machine trying to travel past its physical limits. To protect his machine from human error, [Zorlack] decided to make limit switch brackets for his Shapeoko. They are 3D printed, accept standard limit switches and bolt directly onto the Makerslide rails of the machine. These types of switches are used as travel limits, where if triggered, the machine stops moving in that direction. If you’d like a set, they are available for download at the above link.



    We’ve discussed recently how much dust a CNC Router creates and how to manage that dust on the cheap. [Jason] blew away the ‘on the cheap’ record with this Dust Shoe for his Shapeoko. It is made only from an old tennis ball can. The lid is removed and a hole is cut in it just a bit smaller than the outer diameter of the router. The lid is then press-fit onto the router. Next, the plastic portion of the can is trimmed to length and slits are cut into the plastic to create flaps similar to brush bristles. These flaps were straight when cut but [Jason] used some heat to create a permanent outward curve. The newly created skirt snaps into the lid previously installed on the router and can be removed easily for tool bit changes. We’d like to see the next version have an outlet for a vacuum to collect the contained dust.




    Filed under: cnc hacks, how-to

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 09:01
    Copper Oxide Thermoelectric Generator Can Light An LED

    On Hackaday, we usually end up featuring projects using building blocks (components, platforms…) that can be bought on the market. We however don’t show many hacks that rely on basic physics principles like the one shown in the picture above.

    In the video embedded below, [nylesteiner] explains that copper oxide can be formed when heating a copper wire using a propane flame. When two oxidized wires are placed in contact with each other, an electrical current is produced when one wire is heated much hotter than the other. The trade-off is that the created thermocouple generates a small voltage but a ‘high’ current. However, when you cascade 16 junctions in series you can generate enough voltage to light up an LED. Even though the complete system isn’t particularly efficient at converting heat into electricity, the overall result is still quite impressive in our opinion. We advise our readers to give a look at [nylesteiner]‘s article and blog to discover his interesting adventures.


    Filed under: chemistry hacks

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 06:00
    Facebook to Buy Oculus VR



    Facebook has agreed to purchase Oculus VR. The press values the deal at about $2 Billion USD in cash and stock. This is great news for Oculus’ investors. The rest of the world has a decidedly different opinion. [Notch], the outspoken creator of Minecraft, was quick to tweet that a possible rift port has now been canceled, as Facebook creeps him out. He followed this up with a blog post.

    I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

    Here at Hackaday, we’ve been waiting a long time for affordable virtual reality. We’ve followed Oculus since the early days, all the way up through the recent open source hardware release of their latency tester. Our early opinion on the buyout is not very positive. Facebook isn’t exactly known for contributions to open source software or hardware, nor are they held in high regard for standardization in their games API. Only time will tell what this deal really means for the Rift.

    The news isn’t all dark though. While Oculus VR has been a major catalyst for virtual reality displays, there are other players. We’ve got our eggs in the castAR basket. [Jeri, Rick] and the rest of the Technical Illusions crew have been producing some great demos while preparing CastAR for manufacture. Sony is also preparing Project Morpheus. The VR ball is rolling. We just hope it keeps on rolling – right into our living rooms.

    Filed under: news, Virtual Reality

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 00:01
    Now You’re Washing with Gas

    [Michiel] likes to wash his clothes in warm water. Like a lot of machines, his draws from the cold water line and  heats it electrically. Gas is much cheaper than electricity in the Netherlands, so he wanted to be able to heat the water with gas instead. Hot-fill machines already exist, but few models are available and they’re all too expensive.  [Michiel] rolled up his sleeves and hacked his brand new washer into a hot-fill machine.

    He started out thinking that he’d just connect the hot water line instead, but that proved to be too hot. He found out it needs to be about 35°C (95°F), so he decided to mix input from the hot and cold lines. Since it’s a shiny new machine, [Michiel] wanted an externally mounted system to keep from voiding  the warranty. He got two solenoid valves from the electronic bay and used a PIC16F to make them dance. He wired up a light switch on a two-panel face and used the blank plate for power and status LEDs.

    [Michiel]‘s design works like a charm. The machine used to draw 2000W to heat the water, and peak usage now is as low as 200W. He noticed that the washer drew a lot of power in standby mode so he added a solid state relay and a bit more code. Now the electricity to the machine is cut after two hours and [Michiel] saves about €97 per year.

    Filed under: green hacks

  • Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 21:01
    Who Wouldn’t Want 3D Printed Candles of Yourself on Your 70th Birthday?

    3d printed candles

    [Christian Lölkes] needed a unique gift for their CEO’s 70th birthday — We mean really, what do you get someone who probably has everything? Well… you 3D scan him and make candles in his likeness of course!

    Since they have both a 3D scanner and 3D printer at work, this was the obvious choice. Instead of printing the mold out, they opted to print a high resolution figurine of their CEO, and then make a reusable silicone mold instead. When you’re designing a figurine for candle casting, it’s important to make a nice wide base, as this will make pouring the hot wax into the mold much easier.

    There are lots of different ways to make molds, but to make theirs they decided to use a toilet paper roll for convenience. After taping up the mold with the figurine inside, it’s time to fill it with silicone. Unfortunately bubbles form in silicone so you need a way to force the bubbles to rise to the top and pop — vibrating the mold is a good solution, and setting it on top of a washing machine is an easy way to accomplish it.

    Once the silicone is cast, you have to cut the mold in half carefully as to not damage your figurine. Then it’s just a matter of zip-tying the mold back together, inserting a wick and pouring wax in! Cool.

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks