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Planet hack-day

  • Friday, April 11, 2014 - 07:01
    The INFRA-NINJA — A PC Remote Receiver


    Laziness sometimes spawns the greatest inventions. Making things to reduce effort on your part is quite possibly one of the greatest motivators out there. So when [Kyle] had to get out of bed in order to turn off Netflix on his computer… He decided to do something about it.

    He already had an Apple remote, which we have to admit, is a nice, simple and elegant control stick — so he decided  to interface with it in order to control his non-Apple computer. He quickly made up a simple PCB up using the good ‘ol toner transfer method, and then populated it with a Bareduino, a CP2102 USB 2.0 to TTL UART 6PIN Serial Converter, an IR receiver, a USB jack, header pins, and a few LED and tactile switches.

    It’s a bit tricky to upload the code (you have to remove the jumper block) but then it’s just a matter of connecting to it and transferring it over with the Arduino IDE. The Instructable is a bit short, but [Kyle] promises if you’re really interested he’ll help out with any questions you might have!

    Filed under: computer hacks, macs hacks

  • Friday, April 11, 2014 - 04:01
    Never Lose Your Pencil With OSkAR on Patrol


    [Courtney] has been hard at work on OSkAR, an OpenCV based speaking robot. OSkAR is [Courney's] capstone project (pdf link) at Shepherd University in West Virginia, USA. The goal is for OSkAR to be an assistive robot. OSkAR will navigate a typical home environment, reporting objects it finds through speech synthesis software.

    To accomplish this, [Courtney]  started with a Beagle Bone Black and a Logitech C920 webcam. The robot’s body was built using LEGO Mindstorms NXT parts. This means that when not operating autonomously, OSkAR can be controlled via Bluetooth from an Android phone. On the software side, [Courtney] began with the stock Angstrom Linux distribution for the BBB. After running into video problems, she switched her desktop environment to Xfce.  OpenCV provides the machine vision system. [Courtney] created models for several objects for OSkAR to recognize.

    Right now, OSkAR’s life consists of wandering around the room looking for pencils and door frames. When a pencil or door is found, OSkAR announces the object, and whether it is to his left or his right. It may sound like a rather boring life for a robot, but the semester isn’t over yet. [Courtney] is still hard at work creating more object models, which will expand OSkAR’s interests into new areas.

    [Thanks Emad!]

    Filed under: robots hacks

  • Friday, April 11, 2014 - 01:01
    3D Printed Cyclone Dust Separator


    [Nicholas] has been reading Hackaday for a few months now, and after seeing several people’s dust extractor setups, he decided to make his own 3D printed version. And he’s sharing the files with everyone!

    He has a small Lobo mill which produces a lot of dust and to clean up he’s been using a small “Shark” brand vacuum cleaner. It’s a powerful little thing, but has little to no capacity which makes it rather frustrating to use. This makes it a perfect candidate for a cyclone upgrade! If you’re not familiar with cyclonic separator it’s a way of removing dust from air using vortex separation — between rotational forces and gravity, this keeps the dust out of your vacuum cleaner and means you never need to change another filter!

    Using Autodesk inventor he designed this 4-stage cyclone separator. It’s made for a 1.75″ OD vacuum hose (the Shark standard) but could be easily modified for different vacuums. We’ve seen lots of cyclone separators before, but this 3D printed one certainly makes it easier to fabricate to exacting standards!

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, tool hacks

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 23:49
    Developed on Hackaday: 2 Days Left to Submit your Design!

    We’re sure that many of Hackaday readers already know that one of the two main components of the Mooltipass project is a smart card, containing (among others) the AES-256 encryption key. Two weeks ago we asked if you’d be interested coming up with a design that will be printed on the final card. As usual, many people were eager to contribute and recently sent us a few suggestions. If you missed the call and would like to join in, it’s not too late! You may still send your CMYK vector image at mathieu[at]hackaday[dot]com by sunday. More detailed specifications may be found here.

    In a few days we’ll also publish on Hackaday a project update, as we recently received the top and bottom PCBs for Olivier’s design. The low level libraries will soon be finished and hopefully a few days later we’ll be able to ship a few devices to developers and beta testers. We’re also still looking for contributors that may be interested in helping us to develop browser plugins.

    The Mooltipass team would also like to thank our dear readers that gave us a skull on Hackaday projects!

    Filed under: Hackaday Columns, hardware

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 22:00
    Recovering Nichrome Wire from Unexpected Sources


    Don’t you hate it when you’re in a pinch and all your favorite surplus or electronic stores are closed? You’ve gotta finish this project, but how? He’s a nice real hack for you guys.  How to recover nichrome wire from a ceramic heater!

    Necessity spawned this idea, as [Armilar] needed to make 45 cuts in two pieces of foam in order to ship some long circuit boards. Not wanting to make the 90 cuts individually, he improvised this nichrome slicing jig. Not having a spool of nichrome handy, he decided to use a less conventional method. He pulled out a sledgehammer and smashed open a ceramic wirewound resistor.

    According to him, nice big ceramic resistors like this 10W one have about a meter of nichrome wire inside!  After breaking the ceramic, it’s quite easy to remove. He made up a jig using nylon spacers and rivets, and then wrapped his wire back and forth across the whole length. It worked perfectly — though he was using 240VDC @ about 1.2A…

    If you don’t need such a complex setup, there’s always the bare bones wire foam cutters we’ve featured many times before.

    Filed under: classic hacks, tool hacks

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 19:01
    Fail of the Week: Rewiring Robosapien


    Our first thought was “check out all of those TO-92 components!”, but then we saw the wiring nightmare. [Tom] picked up a Robosapien from an estate sale for just $10. Most hackers couldn’t resist that opportunity, but the inexpensive acquisition led to a time-consuming repair odyssey. When something doesn’t work at all you crack it open to see what’s wrong. He was greeted with wiring whose insulation was flaking off.

    This is no problem for anyone competent with a soldering iron. So [Tom] set to work clipping all the bad wire and replacing it with in-line splices. Voila, the little guy was dancing to his own tunes once again! But the success was short-lived as the next day the robot was unresponsive again. [Tom] plans to do some more work by completely replacing the wires as soon as he receives the replacement connectors he ordered. So what do you think, is this an issue that will be resolved with a wire-ectomy or might there be actual damage to the board itself?

    2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story – or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

    Filed under: Fail of the Week, Hackaday Columns

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 16:00
    Fake Audiophile Opamps Revealed


    The OPA627 is an old, popular, and very high-end opamp found in gear cherished by the most discerning audiophiles. This chip usually sells for at least $15, but when [Zeptobars] found a few of these expensive chips on ebay going for $2, his curiosity was piqued. Something just isn’t right here.

    [Zeptobars] is well known for his decapsulating and high-resolution photography skills, so he cut the can off a real OPA627, and dissolved one of the improbably cheap ebay chips to reveal the die. Under the microscope, he found an amazing piece of engineering in the real chip – laser trimmed resistors, and even a nice bit of die art.

    The ebay chip, if it were real, would look the same. It did not. The ebay chip only contained one laser trimmed resistor and looks to be a much simpler circuit. After a bit of research, [Zeptobars] found it was actually an AD774 opamp. The difference is small, but the AD774 still has much higher noise – something audiophiles could easily differentiate with their $300 oxygen-free volume knobs.

    This isn’t the first instance of component counterfeiting [Zeptobars] has come across. He’s found fake FTDI chips before, and we’re counting the days until he gets around to putting a few obviously fake ebay 6581 SID chips under the microscope.

    Filed under: hardware

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 13:00
    An Exceptional BASIC Computer


    Since [Dan] has started using microcontrollers, he’s been absolutely fascinated by the fact these chips are essentially low performance computers. Once he caught wind of TinyBASIC, he decided he would have a go at creating a simple, tiny computer that’s very simple to the old, tiny, 8-bit computers of yore.

    The computer is built on an Arduino shield, using TinyBASIC, the TVout library, and the PS/2 keyboard library. After piecing together a little bit of code, the Arduino IDE alerted [Dan] to the fact the TVout and PS/2 libraries were incompatible with each other. This inspired [Dan] to use the ATMega328P as a coprocessor running the TVout library, and using the capacious ATMega1284P as the home of TinyBASIC and the PS/2 library.

    A circuit was put together in Fritzing using minimal components, and a PCB milled out of copper board. After the board was tinned, [Dan] had a beautiful minimalist retro computer with nearly 14kB of RAM free and an RCA display.

    Future versions of the build will probably be based around the Arduino Mega, allowing for a TV resolution of 720×480. Also on tap are an SD card slot, LEDs, pots, and possibly even headers for I2C and SPI.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 10:00
    Resetting DRM On 3D Printer Filament


    The Da Vinci 3D printer is, without a doubt, the future of printing plastic objects at home. It’s small, looks good on a desk, is fairly cheap, and most importantly for printer manufacturers, uses chipped filament cartridges that can’t be refilled.

    [Oliver] over at Voltivo was trying to test their new printer filament with a Da Vinci and ran head-on into this problem of chipped filament. Digging around inside the filament cartridge, he found a measly 300 grams of filament and a small PCB with a Microchip 11LC010 EEPROM. This one kilobyte EEPROM contains all the data about what’s in the filament cartridge, including the length of filament remaining.

    After dumping the EEPROM with an Arduino and looking at the hex file, [Oliver] discovered the amount of filament remaining was held in a single two-byte value. Resetting this value to 0xFFFF restores the filament counter to its virgin state, allowing him to refill the filament. A good thing, too; the cartridge filament is about twice as expensive as what we would normally buy.


    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 07:01
    An Emulated Commodore 64 Operating System for the Raspberry Pi



    It’s no secret that Commodore users love their old machines with the Commodore C64 being chief among them with 27 Million units sold worldwide. Speaking as a former Commodore Business Machines (CBM) engineer the real surprise for us is the ongoing interest and devotion to an era typified by lumbering 8 bit machines and a color palette consisting of 16 colors. Come to think about it, that’s the description of Minecraft!

    Jump forward to today and it’s a generation later. We find that the number of working units is diminishing as age and the laws of entropy and physics take their toll.

    Enter the Commodore Pi, an emulated Commodore 64 operating system for the Raspberry Pi. The goals of the project include an HDMI and composite compatible video output, SID based sound, Sprites and other notable Commodore features. They also plan to have hooks for more modern technology to include Ethernet, GPIO and expansion RAM.

    A video demo of the emulator can be found below. If you’re just warming up to the Commodore world, you’ll definitely want to know the real story behind the C128.

    Thanks to [Terry Fisher], head of PCB development at Commodore Business Machines for the lead.

    Filed under: Raspberry Pi

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 04:00
    Turning An Analog Scope Into A Logic Analyzer


    When [Marco] was planning on a storage oscilloscope build, he realized having a small device to display eight digital signals on an analog scope would be extremely useful. This just happens to be the exact description of a simple logic analyzer and managed to turn his idea into a neat little project (German, Google translation).

    The theory of operation for this surprisingly simple, and something that could be completed in a few hours with a reasonably well stocked hackerspace or parts drawer in a few hours. A clock generator and binary counter are fed into the lower three bits of a simple R2R DAC, while the 8 inputs are fed into an 8-input multiplexer and sent to the last bit of the DAC. With nothing connected to the logic analyzer inputs, the output to the scope would just be an 8-step ramp that would appear as eight horizontal lines on the screen. With something connected to the logic analyzer input, an extremely primitive but still very useful logic analyzer appears on the screen.

    While it’s not the greatest analyzer, it is something that can be cobbled together in an hour or two, and the capabilities are more than sufficient to debug a few simple circuits or figure out some timings in a project.

    Filed under: tool hacks

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 01:00
    Gaming on an 8x8x8 LED Cube


    Building an LED cube is a great way to learn how to solder, while building something that looks awesome. Without any previous experience with soldering or coding, [Anred] set out to create a simple 8x8x8 LED cube gaming platform.

    Rather than reinventing the wheel, [Andred] based the LED cube off of three separate Instructables. The resulting cube came out great, and the acrylic casing around it adds a very nice touch. Using an Arduino Mega, the 74HC574, and a few MOSFET’s to drive his LEDs, the hardware is fairly standard. What sets this project apart from many other LED cube builds, is the fact that you can game on it using a PlayStation 1 controller. All the necessary code to get up and running is included in the Instructable (commented in German). Be sure to see the cube in action after the break!

    It would be great to see a wireless version of this LED cube game. What kind of LED cube will gaming be brought to next? A tiny LED cube? The biggest LED cube ever? Only time will tell.

    Filed under: led hacks

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 22:00
    X-Wing Tri-Rotor Brings Star Wars to Life


    Once you realize you can make almost anything fly if you strap a big enough prop and motor to it, you really start thinking outside of the box. That’s what [Rodger] did and he’s come up with this very impressive 19lb, 5′ long X-Wing Fighter from Star Wars.

    Recently [Rodger] has found new joy in making movie props come to life with the help of today’s technology. He started with Project Thunderball — a flying James Bond mannequin with a jet pack. From there he brought us the Marty McFly working hover-board, and now an X-Wing Fighter, his biggest flying machine yet.

    It measures about 5 feet long, and is a tri-rotor design with three 100A ESCs, 1200W 1050KV motors, and 12″ rotors. The frame is made of PVC to conserve weight. Since it’s a tri-rotor with true vectored thrust, the X-Wing features much better yaw than quadrotors. Then only problem is it pivots around the odd prop out, meaning in this case, the X-Wing turns on its nose — instead of its tail.

    Regardless, we can’t wait to see what [Rodger] tries flying next! Stick around to see the X-Wing in action.

    Filed under: drone hacks

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 19:00
    VCF East Wrapup MegaPost


    VCF East, the fabulous retrocomputing festival held in Wall, NJ this last weekend was a blast. We had a great time, dropped t-shirts and stickers to just about anyone who wanted one, took a lot of pictures, and shot a lot of video. Now that it’s over it’s time for the post-mortem, with one insanely long post.

    We saw some very cool stuff that merited its own post, and much more that we simply didn’t have time to video. The previous posts from VCF East:

    There’s still tons more, including a tour of the retrocomputer museum that hosted VCF East. The biggest talk was from [Dave Haynie], lord of the Amiga giving part three of a multi-year talk on the soap opera that was Commodore International.

    Click that ‘Read more…’ to see all this.


    There’s a reason VCF East was hosted at InfoAge. This former military base and the DARPA of the 1920s is also the home of MARCH, The Mid-Atlantic Retro Computer Hobbyists. The MARCH exhibits range from analog computers, up through homebrew terminals, eventually ending in the mid 80s with a Mac 128.

    The President of MARCH and organizer for the VCF East was kind enough to take us through a partial walk through of the MARCH exhibits. Items of note include one of the first generation of PDP-8 minicomputers. This beast used diode-transistor logic and core memory. Also on the walk through is a TV Typewriter, and a Mimeo 1, the most perfect replica of an Apple I you’ll ever find.

    Altair 8800
    A Control Data G-15
    Computer Lib, signed by Ted Nelson
    Heathkit analog computer trainer
    The worst keyboard... in the world
    Mac 128
    PDP-8 signed by Ted Nelson
    TV Typewriter internals
    TV Typewriter
    Autographs by Captain Crunch and Woz


    The Commodore Soap Opera

    VCF East, being located in New Jersey, has close ties with the Commodore community and over the past 10 years of hosting the event, they’ve been able to put together a series of talks from the people who were actually there.

    The first talk in 2007 is from [Chuck Peddle], designer of the 6502, KIM-1, and the Commodore PET. The second talk in 2012 was given by [Bil Herd], covering Commodore from the departure of [Jack Tramiel] until the beginnings of the Amiga. This past weekend, [Dave Haynie] wraps it up with Commodore’s sad exit.

    [Chuck Peddle]‘s talk at the 2007 VCF East

    [Bil Herd]‘s Commodore experiences from the departure of [Jack Tramiel] until the release of the Amiga, VCF East 2012

    [Dave Haynie]‘s talk on the Amiga, VCF East 2014

    This is probably the first time all these videos have been embedded in one place. That’s interesting in itself – note the increase in video quality, and the fact that we can do YouTube videos over 20 minutes or so now. If you have a very good eye, you will also note [Bil] can only count to nine and a half now.

    An Absurd Amount Of Pictures

    Intel 8-bit (and one 4-bit!)

    There were, of course, a lot of 8080s, 8088s, and other Intel 8-bit CPUs. One of the best displays was from [John Chapman] and his Lawrence Livermore Labs MST-80B. He has a really cool 24-bit hex display he’s also working on based on the old LED bubble character displays. All very cool stuff.

    The 8080
    The 8008.
    Lawrence Livermore Labs MST-80B Trainer
    MST-80B Trainer keypad


    Ted Nelson signature

    Big Iron



    The only prototype SE with a non-clear case.
    From left to right, a Mac ED, Lisa, prototype SE, and the rest are stock SEs.
    Another of the *original* Apple I.
    Franklin Apple II clone
    Franklin CX, the luggable Apple II clone. Only about 30 exist.
    The SE/30, the best computer Apple will ever make.
    *The* Apple I. Original and rescued from Jobs' office.
    The only prototype Mac SE with a non-clear case.


    By far the best represented brand of 8-bit home computers was Commodore; everything from PETs with chicklet keyboards to Amiga 3000s. I’m an idiot, though; I was hiding my camera gear and random stuff behind [Rob Clarke]‘s exhibit of Commodore Oddities but somehow I didn’t get any pictures. Like I said, I’m an idiot. Still, he had most of the Commodore TED machines – the 116, C16, Plus/4, and 232 all made an appearance. Here’s some Amiga pics:



    What good would a vintage computer festival be without people swapping gear, books, software, and hardware? VCF East had an entire room dedicated to selling, and it was cramped. The prices were pretty fair, as well: if I had to ballpark it, I’d say the prices were about half of what sellers on eBay are asking, although judging from a few forums I frequent, that’s about par for the course.

    I was hoping to snag a nice Amiga monitor, but only ended up grabbing an old mechanical Apple keyboard (M0116, peach Alps switches), a few books, and a 14″ Apple CRT. The “cool” stuff went really fast, and surprisingly all the Commodore 64s were sold in the first few hours.

    Interesting vendors of note include [Vince Briel] of Briel Computers. We did a whole post on him, but if you look closely you’ll see his next, unannounced project. The table full of software is from Eli’s Software Encyclopedia. Here are the pics:

    Briel's Replica 1
    Compact luggable
    Tiny Trash-80
    This is [Vince Briel]'s new, unannounced project. Yes, that's an integrated keyboard on an Ohio Scientific replica. Cherry MX Blues with custom keycaps.
    The asking price for this Mac 5400/200 was $10. I had that much in my wallet and space in my car. The X400 series of macs simply sucked. A lot.

    All in all, VCF East was an awesome event, and well worth a day trip if you’re within a few hundred miles or so. InfoAge itself was great, and well worth the trip even if there isn’t an event going on. There’s a ton of stuff we simply couldn’t get to, and we’re looking forward to the next year’s activities.

    If you’re too far away to visit the next VCF East, don’t worry: there’s VCF Southeast near Atlanta in just a few short weeks.

    There’s still one more thing we need to post – InfoAge is also home to a great hackerspace. We’ll get around to posting that when the our computer stops crying from all this video rendering.

    If that’s not enough for you, [Fran] also stopped by and shot some video. She’s done editing about a third of what she shot, you can find that below.

    Filed under: classic hacks, Featured

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 16:00
    Using SIMMs to Add Some Extra RAM on your Arduino UNO


    A Single In-line Memory Module (SIMM) is a type of memory module containing Random Access Memory (RAM) which was used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s (think 386, 486, Macintoshs, Atari STE…). [Rafael] just made a little library that allows you to interface these modules to the Atmega328p-based Arduino UNO in order to gain some memory space. His work was actually based on the great Linux on the 8bit ATMEGA168 hack from [Dmitry Grinberg] but some tweaks were required to make it work with [Rapfael]‘s SIMM but also to port it to the Arduino platform. The 30-pin SIMM shown above is capable of storing up to (hold on to your chairs…) 16MB but due to limited amount of available IOs on the Atmega328p only 256KB can be used. Our guess it that an SPI / I2C IO extender could lift this limitation. A quick (shaky) video is embedded after the break.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 13:00
    Create Your Own J.A.R.V.I.S. Using Jasper


    Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. needs no introduction. With [Shubhro's] and [Charlie's] recent release of Jasper, an always on voice-controlled development platform for the Raspberry Pi, you too can start making your own J.A.R.V.I.S..

    Both [Shubhro] and [Charlie] are undergraduate students at Princeton University, and decided to make their voice-controlled project open-source (code is available on GitHub). Jasper is build on inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware, making it very simple to get started. All you really need is an internet connected Raspberry Pi with a microphone and speaker. Simply install Jasper, and get started using the built in functionality that allows you to interface with Spotify, Facebook, Gmail, knock knock jokes, and more. Be sure to check out the demo video after break!

    With the easy to use developer API, you can integrate Jasper into any of your existing Raspberry Pi projects with little effort. We could see Jasper integrated with wireless microphones and speakers to enable advanced voice control from anywhere in your home. What a great project! Thanks to both [Shubhro] and [Charlie] for making this open-source.

    Filed under: home hacks, Raspberry Pi

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 10:00
    Building a Quadcopter with a CNC Mill and a 3D Printer


    Quadcopters are a ton of fun to play with, and even more fun to build. [Vegard] wrote in to tell us about his amazing custom DIY quadcopter frame that uses a commercial flight control system.

    Building a quadcopter is the perfect project to embark upon if you want to test out your new CNC mill and 3D printer. The mechanical systems are fairly simple, yet result in something unbelievably rewarding. With a total build time of 30 hours (including Sketchup modeling), the project is very manageable for weekend hackers. [Vegard's] post includes his build log as well as some hard learned lessons. There are also tons of pictures of the build. Be sure to read to read the end of the post, [Vegard] discusses why to “never trust a quadcopter” and other very useful information. See it in action after the break.

    While the project was a great success, it sadly only had about 25 hours of flight-time before a fatal bird-strike resulted in quite a bit of damage. Have any of your quadcopters had a tragic run-in with another flying object? Let us know in the comments.

    Filed under: cnc hacks, robots hacks

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 07:00
    VCF East: PR1ME And AT&T Unix Boxes


    At the Vintage Computer Festival last weekend, there was a wonderful representation of small 8 and 16-bit home computers from the 80s, an awful lot of PDP and VAX-based minicomputers, and even some very big iron in the form of a UNIVAC and a Cray. You might think this is a good representation of computing history, but there was actually a huge gap in the historical reality. Namely, workstations and minicomputers that weren’t made by DEC.

    [Ian Primus] was one of the very few people to recognize this shortcoming and brought his PRIME minicomputer. This was a huge, “two half racks, side by side” computer running PRIMOS, an operating system written in FORTRAN. Of course this made it extremely popular with engineering teams, but that doesn’t mean [Ian] can’t have fun with it. He had two terminals set up, one running Dungeon (i.e. Zork pre-Infocom) and a text-based lunar lander game.

    Because the VCF East is held in New Jersey, it’s probably no surprise a few vintage AT&T Unix boxes showed up. [Anthony Stramaglia] brought in a few very cool vintage Unix workstations, dating from the early to mid 80s. In the video, he shows off two AT&T boxes. The first is a UNIX PC, containing a 68010 clocked at a blistering 10 MHz. Next up is the UNIX PC’s bigger brother, the 3B2 400. This is the workstation found on just about every desk at Bell Labs in the 80s, meaning this is the same computer [Ken Thompson] and [Dennis Ritchie] used for their work on UNIX.


    Filed under: classic hacks

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 04:00
    Serial Monitor Without a PC


    A serial monitor is an easy way to debug your projects. As we step through code, it’s nice to see a “Hey! I’m working, moving to next thing!” across the monitor, and not so nice to see nothing – the result of a bug that needs debugging. This has always meant needing a PC loaded with your favorite serial terminal program close at hand.

    Most of the time this is not an issue, because the PC is used to compile the code and program the project at hand. But what if you’re in the field, with a mission of fixing a headless system, and in need a serial monitor? Why lug around your PC when you can make your own External Serial Monitor!

    [ARPix] built this fully functional serial monitor based on an Atmega328 and a 102 x 64 LCD display. While it doesn’t have a keyboard port like this microcontroller based serial terminal, tact switches allow access to the user interface to start and stop the reading and set the baud rate. The Atmega328 has 2K of SRAM, which is needed for the project. Apparently, 1K was not enough to handle all the data. All code, schematics and a very well done parts layout are available, making this sure to be your next weekend project!




    Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Microcontrollers

  • Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 01:00
    Designing a Front Panel for a DIY Project

    DIY Front Panel


    When building a one-off DIY project, appearances tend to be the least of our priorities. We just want to get the device working, and crammed into some project case. For those that like to build nicer looking prototypes [JumperOne] came up with a slick method of building a custom front panel for your DIY project.

    The first step is to get the dimensions correct. You CAD tool will generate these from your design. [JumperOne] took these measurements into Inkscape, an open source vector graphics tool. Once it’s in Inkscape, the panel can be designed around the controls. This gets printed out and aligned on a plastic enclosure, which allows the holes to be marked and drilled.

    With the electronics in place, the front panel gets printed again on a general purpose adhesive sheet. Next up is a piece of cold laminating film, which protects the label. Finally, holes are cut for the controls. Note that the display and LEDs are left covered, which allows the film to diffuse the light. The final result looks good, and can provide all the needed instructions directly on the panel.

    [Thanks to Ryan for the tip]

    Filed under: how-to