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Planet hack-day

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 04:00
    A 7″ Touchscreen TV Remote Control from Scratch

    7inchRemote

    [Jason] always wanted a touchscreen TV remote control. He could have pressed an older Android tablet into service, but he wanted to roll his own system. [Jason] gathered the parts, and is in the process of building his own 7″ touchscreen setup. He started with a 7″ LCD capacitive touchscreen. He ordered his display from buy-display.com, a Far East vendor.

    [Jason's] particular display model comes mounted on a PCB which includes controllers for the display and touchscreen, as well as some memory and glue logic. The LCD controller board has quite a few jumpers to support multiple interfaces and options. While the documentation for the display was decent, [Jason] did find a few errors. After getting in touch with tech support at buy-display, he wrote a simple application which determines which jumpers to set depending on which hardware interfaces are selected from drop down lists.

    With the LCD sorted, [Jason] still needed a processor. He selected the venerable Microchip PIC32MX series. This decision allowed him to use a Fubarino for the early prototypes, before switching to his own board as the system matured. [Jason] was able to get a simple GUI up and running, with standard remote buttons to control his TV and cable box. Code is on his Github repository.

    [Jason's] most recent work has centered on cutting the cord. He’s switched over from DC power to a 2600 mAh LiPo battery. Click past the break to see [Jason] test out his fully wireless work in progress.

    Filed under: home entertainment hacks

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 01:00
    Smart Microwave Shows You How It’s Done

    xlarge

    Do you still have technical difficulties with your microwave? Never know how long to put that half eaten hot-pocket in for? With the nextWAVE (trademark pending) you don’t need to know! Simply scan the bar code and let the nextWave do its thing — wirelessly!

    [Kashev Dalmia], [Dario Aranguiz], [Brady Salz] and [Ahmed Suhyl] just competed in the HackIllinois Hackathon 2014, and their project was this awesome smart microwave. It uses a Spark Core Microcontroller to control the microwave and communicate wirelessly over Wi-Fi. They’ve developed an Android app to allow you to scan bar codes, which are then looked up in a Firebase Database to determine the optimum (crowd sourced) cook time. To make it easy for anyone to use, an app link NFC tag is placed on the microwave for easy installation.

    It even automatically opens the door when it’s done — and plays Funky Town! Oh and it also has a Pebble app to show you the time remaining on your food. We think this Raspberry Pi microwave might give it a run for its money though…

    Filed under: cooking hacks

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 22:00
    Electric Imp Locks and Unlocks your Door Automatically

    2013-11-19 14.23.18

    When the folks over at PinMeTo moved into a new office, they were dismayed to find out an extra key would run them a whopping 500 sek (~$75 USD). Instead, they decided to build their own automatic door lock using the Electric Imp system.

    If you’re not familiar, the Electric Imp is a small SD card designed to provide internet (Wi-Fi) functionality to consumer devices. While it looks like an SD card, you cannot just plug it into any SD card slot and expect it to work — it still needs a prototyping board. We’ve seen it used to make a wireless thermal printer, or even make a tweeting cat door to let you know of any feline intruders!

    Anyway — back to the hack. To move the lock cylinder they’re using a basic RC servo connected directly to the Imp. A flex sensor is installed on the side of the door over-top the lock — this provides feedback to the Imp whether or not the door is in fact locked. The Imp then communicates to Everymote to allow for keypad access from your mobile phone.

    It probably ended up costing more in time and money than a new key, but hey, it looks like it was a fun project to do!

    Filed under: home hacks, security hacks

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:01
    MountainBeest – A Theo Jansen Creature Comes Alive in My Garage

    About a year ago, a member of my family sent me a video featuring [Theo Jansen's] StrandBeest, knowing that I was interested in all kinds of wacky and hackish inventions. My initial reaction was something to the effect of “wow that’s a neat device, but that guy is a little crazy.” For better or worse, the idea that this was an incredible invention turned over in my head for some time. Eventually, I decided that I needed to build one myself.  Apparently I’m a little crazy as well.

    Theo’s original beest runs on a complicated linkage system powered by wind. He was nice enough to publish the linkage lengths or “eleven holy numbers,” as he calls him at the bottom of this page. He doesn’t, however, really explain how the connections on his PVC power transmission system work, so I was left to try to figure it out from his videos.  As you’ll see from build details and video to follow, this isn’t trivial. Keep reading past the jump to learn the adversity that I encountered, and how it was overcome in the end.

    The Build Begins

    For reasons that I’m not entirely sure of, I started building the leg linkages out of wood instead of PVC pipe. Perhaps it was this four-legged miniature Jansen-style walker that inspired it.  Some of the linkages were scaled directly from this design. That’s also likely how I decided that it might be possible to walk my StrandBeest version around with four legs. That or possibly this awesome simulation. Given how much effort it took to make each leg, the fewer the better from the perspective of getting it finished.

    To begin with, I was never sure I’d finish more than one leg, but after trying out the process on the first linkage set, as seen on [HAD], soon I was testing two legs. Finally it was on to four legs linked together with a central PVC shaft — also seen on [HAD] and in the video below.

    I thought that was pretty cool, so the build seemed to be done for the time being. I literally hung it up in my garage to see if I could think of anything better to do with it.

    Inspiration to Finish the Project

    Months later, I was contacted by [Jay], who recruits for the Columbia, SC Maker Faire, about doing something for the show. My dormant ‘Beest, now dubbed the [MountainBeest], seemed like a great candidate. [Jay] volunteered that they had a winch available (why not?) to hoist the [MountainBeest] up and down spider. This was great, as I had serious doubts about its ability to walk on its own.

    Although I could have probably hooked up a series of cables to actuate the legs remotely, this didn’t seem quite good enough. Electronic remote control seemed like a better idea, and fortunately I had a windshield wiper motor and controls left over from a failed “giant hexapod” project that [HAD] featured in 2012.

    Some Issues with the Build

    chain-sprocket

    The mechanical build was simple enough, but power transmission with PVC pipe is getting into somewhat uncharted waters for me. My first idea was to use sprocket gears off of a bike that I converted to single speed, and windshield wiper motors to power the legs. This idea had some potential, but I was supporting the driving gear quite poorly.  Additionally, the wiper motors tended to go faster and start more violently than the [MountainBeest] liked. As seen here, even after upgrading to a larger single speed chain, things didn’t stay together.

    My “custom” single speed bike, however, looks awesome with its new chain. It’s good to have a backup plan.

    The [MountainBeest] backup plan was to use one slower motor on each set of two legs. This would get rid of any pesky chain issues, and theoretically allow the ‘beest to turn when walking. It took some work, including modifying the frame and coming up with an interesting motor mounting solution seen in the picture below. It did work, however, and that counts a success in HaD land.

    wooden-motor-mount

    One continuing issue I’ve had with the extremely low geared motors I was using, is that at certain points in the mechanism’s travel, it tends to put a huge amount of torque on the shaft. In order to fight this, I came up with a PVC coupler that absorbs some shock and allows it to flex as seen on [HAD] here. These are known in their more traditional settings as a “beam” or “helical” coupling.  My PVC version is seen in the video below.

    Final Design

    After solving (or at least mitigating) most of the mechanical issues with my “walker,” the electronics were fairly simple. I used a four-channel radio transmitter with a PWM relay switch from Servocity.  This was able to handle the DC motors nicely, despite possibly being overkill. After wondering what I could do with the other two channels, I remembered that I had a Pan/Tilt mechanism already built.

    mountainbeest-finishing

    After attaching the camera mount to the polycarbonate shell, it was simply a matter of plugging the servos in.  In a few easy steps I had a ready-made GoPro mount to add sight to my creation!

    Below is a video of it completed in the garage, and there’s more information on the final build here.  Unfortunately, the torque required to actually make the legs walk was too much for the little motors I was using.  It’ll make a great display though, and actually walking will be a good goal if I ever decide to make revision 1!

    So sometimes one just needs a little push to actually finish a project! Hopefully my [MountainBeest] can make a good showing at the Columbia, South Carolina Maker Faire this year. I’m certainly looking forward to it. If you happen to be in the area on June 14th this year, or want to make the trip, be sure to stop by and say hello!

    Full disclosure: I’ve received promotional consideration on some parts used in this project not in connection with this article.


    JeremySCook twitter accountJeremy Cook is a manufacturing engineer with 10 years experience as his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, working on everything from hobby CNC machinery, to light graffiti, and even the occasional DIY musical instrument. When he’s not busy creating (or destroying) something, he writes for his blogs JcoPro.net and DIYTripods.com.

    Filed under: misc hacks, robots hacks

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 16:00
    Steering Sound with Phased Array

    entiresystem

    [Edward] and [Tom] managed to build an actual phased array speaker system capable of steering sound around a room. Powered by an Atmega 644, this impressive final project uses 12 independently controllable speakers that each have a variable delay. By adjusting the delay at precise intervals, the angle of maximum intensity of the output wave can be shifted, there by “steering” the sound.

    Phased arrays are usually associated with EM applications, such as radar. But the same principles can be applied to sound waveforms. The math is a little scary, but we’ll walk you through only what you need to know in case you’re ever in need to steer sound with a speaker and a servo phased array sound system.

    The physics of a phased array system can be demonstrated with a diffraction grating.

     

    Doubleslit3Dspectrum

     

    The above animation shows what happens to a waveform as it passes through openings in a barrier. By counting the number of openings, obtaining the distance between the openings and combining this knowledge with the properties of the incoming waveform, one can find the area of most intensity.

     

    PhasedArray

     

    This is the phased array setup. If you consider each speaker as openings, you can apply the same technique. [Edward] and [Tom] hammered it out, and found that the output intensity can be calculated by the following equation:

     

    Untitled

     

    Where vs = speed of sound, d = distance between speakers, and td  = a time delay. By varying the time delay, you vary the angle of maximum intensity. [Edward] and [Tom] tested their theory in MATLAB, and it worked!

    Below is the theorized output of several frequencies with no delay.

    zerodegrees

     

    This is the output with a .3ms delay.

    15degrees

     

    Be sure to check out [Edward] and [Tom's] project for complete details, source code, schematics, ext. Below is a video showing the project working in real-time.

    Filed under: Microcontrollers

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 13:00
    Bare-metal Programming On The Teensy 3

    Teensy

    The Teensy 3.x series of boards are amazing pieces of work, with a tiny, breadboard-friendly  footprint, an improbable amount of IO pins, and a powerful processor, all for under $20. [Karl Lunt] loves nearly all the features of the Teensy 3, except for one: the Arduino IDE. Yes, the most terrible, most popular IDE in existence. To fix this problem, [Karl] set up a bare-metal development environment, and lucky us, he’s chosen to share it with us.

    [Karl] is using CodeBench Lite for the compiler, linker, assembler, and all that other gcc fun, but the CodeSourcery suite doesn’t have an IDE. Visual Studio 2008 Express is [Karl]‘s environment of choice, but just about every other IDE out there will do the same job. Of course a make utility will be needed, and grabbing the docs for the Freescale K20 microcontroller wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

    The end result is [Karl] being able to develop for the Teensy 3.X with the IDE of his choice. He was able to quickly set up a ‘blink a LED’ program with the new toolchain, although uploading the files to the Teensy does require the Teensy Loader app.

     

    Filed under: ARM, Microcontrollers

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 10:00
    Neo Geo Arcade Gets Second Life with a Raspberry Pi

    neo-picade

    An old Neo Geo Arcade, a Raspberry Pi, and some time were all [Matthew] needed to build this Pi Powered Arcade Emulator Cabinet.

    Neo Geo was originally marketed by SNK as a very expensive home video console system. Much like the Nintendo Play Choice 10, SNK also marketed an arcade system, the MVS. The Neo Geo MVS allowed arcade operators to run up to six titles in a single cabinet. The MVS also allowed players to save games on memory cards.

    [Matthew's] cabinet had seen better days. Most of the electronics were gone, the CRT monitor was dead, and the power supply was blown. Aside from a bit of wear, the cabinet frame was solid and the controls were in good shape. He decided it would be a good candidate for an emulator conversion.

    We’ve seen some pretty awesome arcade conversions in the past, such as this Halloween rendition of Splatterhouse. For his conversion, [Matthew] stuck to the electronics, leaving most of the old arcade patina intact. The CRT did fire up after some components were replaced. [Matthew] ran into some refresh rate issues with the Raspberry Pi, so he opted to swap it out with a modern LCD monitor. Controls were wired up with the help of an I-PAC board.

    [Matthew] had to write a driver to handle the I-PAC, but he says it was a good learning experience. Aside from the LCD screen, the result looks like it could be found in the back of an old bowling alley, or a smokey bar next to Golden Tee. Nice work, [Matthew]!

    Filed under: video hacks

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 07:00
    Air-Tensioned Bandsaw Simplifies Woodworking Life

    bandsaw

    If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning a band-saw you’ll know exactly how much fun it is to try to replace the blade, or properly tension it even. [Richard T] got tired of it and decided to upgrade his band saw with a bit of pneumatic power.

    To remove the band saw blade or tension it you have to turn an adjustment knob on the top of the band saw — it’s kind of awkward and really annoying. [Richard] has taken the lead screw out and replaced it with a pneumatic cylinder. He’s added a little control panel with a main valve, and pressure regulator. To remove the band saw blade, he bleeds the system with the valve, and to tension it, he turns up the regulator! It’s simple and super effective.

    This is especially convenient for tensioning because you can watch the blade during the “Flutter Test” while gently turning up the regulator.

    If you look in the right places you could probably build a system like this for less than $50. For a complete explanation stick around to hear it from [Richard] himself!

    Filed under: tool hacks

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 04:00
    Electron Beam Control In A Scanning Electron Microscope

    Electron

    A few years ago [Ben Krasnow] built a scanning electron microscope from a few parts he had sitting around. He’s done a few overviews of how he built his SEM, but now he’s put up a great video on how to control electrons, focus them into a point, and scan a sample.

    The basic idea behind a scanning electron microscope is to shoot electrons down a tube, focus them into a point, and scan a conductive sample and detect the secondary electrons shot off the sample and display them on an oscilloscope. [Ben] is generating electrons with a small tungsten filament at the top of his electron ‘stack’. Being like charged, these electrons naturally fan out, so a good bit of electron optics are required to get a small point.

    Focusing is done through a series of pinholes and electrostatic deflectors, much like you’d see in an old oscilloscope CRT. In the video, you can see [Ben] shooting electrons and displaying a Christmas tree graphic  onto a piece of phosphor-coated glass. He has a pretty big scanning area in his SEM, more than enough to look at a few chips, wafers, and whatever other crazy stuff is coming out of [Ben]‘s lab.

    Video below, along with the three-year-old overview of the entire microscope.

    Filed under: misc hacks

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 01:01
    Hackaday Links: April 13, 2014

    hackaday-links-chain

    Check out this Pokemon Yellow cartridge for Super Nintendo. Wait, what? That is a Game Boy game! Well there is a Super Gameboy cartridge that lets you play them on SNES. This mashes the guts of the two into a custom-decorated SNES cart. Now if you’re more interested in the guts of that Super Game Boy cartridge you’ll want to check out this classic hack which dumped the ROM from it. [Thanks Nick]

    Here are a couple of interesting things from our friends over at Adafruit. First off, they have a high-res gallery of the Raspberry Pi compute module and carrier boards which we heard about earlier in the week. Also, the latest Collin’s Lab has a great video on soldering. We especially appreciated the discussion of soldering iron tips and their effect on heat transfer.

    [Marius] got tired of the static shock from the office coat rack. You know, like the scene straight out of Office Space? But he didn’t disassemble the infrastructure to solve the issue. Instead he connected it directly to ground. Just make sure you stick the wire in the correct hole!

    It’s as if Hackaday is on a quest for the most perfect DIY cyclonic separator. Here’s the latest offering which you can cut out from sheet stock by hand. It’s the alternative for those of us without access to a 3D printer.

    If you think it’s too difficult to build what we refer to as a Daft Punk table you need to check out what [Dan] pulled off. He proves that your LED matrix coffee table project doesn’t have to take up a ton of time or cost an exorbitant amount of cash.

    We should have mentioned this to you before the weekend so you’d have something to watch: you can now download BBS: The Documentary from the Internet Archive. We’ve watched the entire thing and it’s fantastic. If you know what a dial-up modem handshake sounds like, you’re going to be awash in nostalgia. If you don’t know the delight of those sounds you need to watch this and see how things used to be back in the day when connecting your computer to a network definitely wasn’t what the cool kids were doing. [Thanks Larry]

    Filed under: Hackaday Columns, Hackaday links

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 22:00
    Super Affordable LED Lighting Ready to Go Off Mains Voltage

    lights

    If you’re looking for a super cheap way to add LED lighting accents to your house, then this hack is for you! Corn-cob style LED light bulbs can be had for a few dollars. The bulbs include driver circuitry, and 8 LED arrays! All you have to do is take it apart.

    [Martin Raynsford] stumbled upon this idea when trying to think of a way to light his laser engraving enclosure. It originally came with a regular light bulb, but it didn’t distribute light nicely and was in the way for some of his other planned upgrades.

    Not wanting to add another DC power supply to the mix he remembered an old corn-cob LED light bulb he had — as it turns out, they’re pretty easy to take apart! Solder some longer leads on (take note of how they are wired, some are in series, some in parallel) and you’ve just made yourself some easy to use LED accent lighting!

    Of course you could just buy those cheap LED rolls from China nowadays for next to nothing for your accent lighting.

    [via Hacked Gadgets]

    Filed under: led hacks

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 19:00
    Hackerspace Tour: IXR in Wall, NJ

    IXR2

    Hackaday took a little trip out to Wall, NJ last weekend for the Vintage Computer Festival 9.1 East. The event was held at Camp Evans, a former US military installation that can only be described as, ‘The DARPA of a century ago”. This is the site of a Marconi transmitter and the place where [Edwin Armstrong] developed the regenerative receiver a little more than 100 years ago.

    There’s a lot more to Camp Evans than a vintage computer festival once a year – it’s also home to MARCH, the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists, InfoAge, a retro technology museum, and IXR, the Institute for eXploratory Research, a hackerspace located in the old telecom building at Camp Evans.

    In our video tour, [Joe Wilkes] takes us around the shop, showing off their equipment and tools. Unlike most of our hackerspace tours, we couldn’t find a Makerbot sitting disused on a bookshelf anywhere, but the space did have a Solidoodle 3D printer, a Shapeoko 2 CNC machine under construction, and enough hand tools to bring any project to fruition.

    There were a few oddities in IXR compared to the other hackerspaces we’ve been to. First is an inordinate amount of synths, keyboards, and other MIDI gear. [Joe] didn’t know what these were for, so we’ll leave that explanation for an IXR member in the comments of this post. There was also a small supply of random components for sale (and on display). Most of the merch was from Adafruit, and it seems like a great way to have that one part I need to finish this build for members while providing a little bit of beer money for the space.

    Pics and video below.

    Drill
    Components
    Terminal Strip
    Store
    Shapeoko
    calendar
    Tools
    WTF
    Robot
    Solidoodle
    Drawers
    Musical

    WTF is this

    WTF

    This strange device was found in one of the boxes at IXR, and neither [Joe] nor myself knew what it was. The best guess was a key cutter, but if anyone has a better idea, leave a note in the comments.

    Filed under: Hackerspaces

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 16:00
    Desktop Sized Tamagotchi Is Even Harder to Ignore

    desktop tamagotchi

    [Vadim] was feeling a bit bored at work one day and dreamed up this rather odd project. He had a spare LED matrix handy, and thought, “I should build a giant Tamagotchi…” and so he did.

    In case you’re not aware, Tamagotchi’s were digital pets introduced in the late 90′s. You had to feed them, play with them and even train them — attempting to teach the responsibility of having a real pet. It was a bit of a fad, and to be honest, they were really quite annoying — but that didn’t stop [Vadim] wanting to make his own!

    He’s using an ATmega328P with the Arduino boot loader at the heart of this project. The LED matrix is made of a group of four 8×8 LED modules with four shift registers (74HC595) and two Darlington transistor arrays to take the current — This is because the 256 LEDs need to be multiplexed down to 32 IO’s (16 rows + 16 columns).

    Once the hardware was all done, he started coding — he’s actually coded the entire game from scratch, and while it’s not that complex it’s still an impressive amount of effort that went into this desktop sized Tamagotchi!

    To see it in action, stick around after the break.

    To learn more about hacking a Tamagotchi, there’s an excellent talk about how to reverse engineer it that we covered a few years ago.

    Filed under: Arduino Hacks

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 13:01
    Printing In Three Dimensions, For Real This Time

    topo

    3D printers don’t continuously print in three dimensions – they print one layer, then another, then another. This is true for every single 3D printing technology, but now Topolabs has a very interesting technique that changes that. They’re printing in three dimensions by moving in the Z axis while also printing in the X and Y axes.

    The basic idea behind Topolabs’ software is to print a support block, then print an object right on top of the support. The support block can be curved and convex, and the finished product follows the contours of the solid support block. Unlike ‘printing with supports’, the printer extrudes along the X, Y, and Z axes, which should make the finished product much, much stronger.

    There are a few drawbacks to the technique – a release agent must be applied to the top of the support block. In the video below, Topolabs is using Kapton, but hair spray or glue sticks will also work. There’s also a limit to how steep an incline a printer can print, determined by the size of the extruder nozzle. Lastly, this technique would be much better suited for a delta-style bot, but the team is getting very good results with a normal Cartesian bot.

    You can see a few videos of the Topolabs printing technique below.

    Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 10:01
    The Ultimate Workstation That Folds Up

    ultimate maker station

    Looking for an easy way to keep on making stuff even though you’re living in a tiny dorm room? [Matt Silver] was tired of not having a dedicated work-space, so he spent some serious time designing this modular, re-configurable and collapsible portable workstation ready for almost anything.

    He started out by sketching ideas, playing around with 3D models in SketchUp, and eventually building a few prototypes using trial and error — and what he’s come up with is pretty darn impressive. It folds down to just under a foot by three feet squared and has casters to roll it around. Once unfolded, you stabilize it by placing your chair on one of the walls that folds down, and the desk itself is also re-configurable for different work surfaces. He’s included a power bar, an LED work-light, and it even has storage racks for tools on the side.

    It’s a very thorough Instructable, and definitely worth a look through — especially to see how it magically unfolds! And if you’re wondering about how much it would cost to build, you’re probably looking at around $200 depending on what you already have on hand. What we really like is how it’s almost entirely made out of a single 4′x8′ panel of plywood — it’s like this guy works for IKEA or something!

    Filed under: home hacks, tool hacks

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 07:01
    Sewing Conductive Thread in Parallel Lines

    sewing-parallel-lines-conductive-thread

    [Cynthia] has shared a great video of  machine sewing parallel lines of conductive thread onto ribbon using a cording foot which usually comes standard with most machines. This technique could be particularly useful when using addressable LEDs like a NeoPixel to get the ground, data, and positive lined up fairly accurately. Sewing the conductive thread onto ribbon also makes it a hell of a lot easier to attach to many garments or textiles,  and also makes it easier to replace or reuse.

    The method is pretty easy, essentially using the grooves in the cording foot to guide the conductive treads and ensuring even spacing. Two of the lines are sewn down approximately 3 mm apart using a zigzag stitch. The third line is sewn separately making sure the stitching doesn’t break the first two lines. In the video, a striped ribbon is used which has slight troughs that additionally helps the threads stay in place and the sewer to stay on target.

    [Cynthia] of Cynthia Designs Studio has been experimenting with embedding electronics in textiles and has quite a few great videos that you can check out on the Cynthia Designs Studio YouTube channel.

    We have seen a machine embroidered LED matrix and a hand sewn LED quilt here on Hackaday, but those who have tried know that conductive thread can be very tricky to work with and keep conductivity.  Do you have any tips or tricks for hand or machine sewing conductive thread? If so, please share in the comments below.

    Filed under: wearable hacks

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 04:00
    Turn Your Drill Press into a Bobbin/Spindle Sander

    drill press ander

    Drill presses are a staple tool of the typical garage — they aren’t too expensive and are indispensably useful — but have you ever thought of turning it into a spindle sander?

    You can buy drum sander kits fairly cheap, but the problem is they’re really difficult to use and really messy too — you’ll have sawdust everywhere in no time. What [Carl's] done here is created a wood box for his drill press with different size holes for each drum sander bit. By attaching a vacuum cleaner to the box, you can clean up your mess while you’re still doing the work.

    Just a note — drill presses aren’t designed to take radial loads like a mill is. If you’re planning on doing some really heavy sanding, adding a bolt through the entire drum sander bit and then coupling it with a fixed bearing inside of your box might be a good idea.

    It’s a pretty simple hack, but could save you an additional power tool, and space on your work bench! Have a drill but no drill press? No problem.

     

    Filed under: tool hacks

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 01:00
    A Virtual Cane for the Visually Impaired

    cane

    [Roman] has created an electronic cane for the visually impaired. Blind and visually impaired people have used canes and walking sticks for centuries. However, it wasn’t until the 1920′s and 1930′s that the white cane came to be synonymous with the blind. [Roman] is attempting to improve on the white cane design by bringing modern electronics to the table. With a mixture of hardware and clever software running on an Android smartphone, [Roman] has created a device that could help a blind person navigate.

    The white cane has been replaced with a virtual cane, consisting of a 3D printed black cylinder. The cane is controlled by an ATmega328 running the Arduino bootloader and [Roman's] code. Peeking out from the end of the handle is a Maxbotix ultrasonic distance sensor. Distance information is reported to the user via a piezo buzzer and a vibration motor. An induction coil allows for charging without fumbling for tiny connectors. A Bluetooth module connects the virtual cane to the other half of the system, an Android phone.

    [Roman's] Android app runs solely on voice prompts and speech syntheses. Navigation commands such as “Take me to <address>” use the phone’s GPS and Google Maps API to retrieve route information. [Roman's] app then speaks the directions for the user to follow. Help can be summoned by simply stating “Send <contact name> my current location.” In the event that the user drops their virtual cane, “Find my device” will send a Bluetooth command to the cane. Once the command is received, the cane will reveal its position by beeping and vibrating.

    We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Using technology to help disabled people is one of the best hacks we can think of. Hackaday alum [Caleb Kraft] has been doing just that with his work at The Controller Project. [Roman] is still actively improving his cane. He’s already won a gold medal at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair. He’s entered his project in several more science events, including the Canada Wide Science Fair and the Google Science Fair. Good luck [Roman]!

    Filed under: lifehacks, misc hacks

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 22:01
    Developed on Hackaday: The Top PCB dilemna

    The Hackaday community offline password keeper is slowly coming together. A few days ago we received the top PCB for Olivier’s design (shown above). If you look at the picture below, you may see the problem we discovered when opening our package: the soldermask was the wrong color! Given the board is meant to be placed behind a tinted acrylic panel, this was quite a problem…

    After using some spray paint, we managed to get to the point shown in the bottom left of the picture. The next task was to find the best way to illuminate the input interface with reverse mount LEDs. Using a CNC mill we machined openings (top right PCB) but also removed some epoxy on both PCB’s sides, thinking it would provide a better light diffusion. We then wrote part of the Mooltipass PWM code and took these pictures:

    Using the FR4 to diffuse the light

    Cut through openings

    We hope you agree that the ‘FR4 version’ looks better. The other version, which has the cut openings, illuminates unevenly because the smartcard isn’t under all of the LEDs. This raises several questions that we hope our dear Hackaday readers can answer:

    1. Can this kind of machining be done in standard PCB fabs?
    2. Instead of leaving the bare FR4 on top, should we cover it with white soldermask?
    3. Instead of leaving the bare FR4 on top, should we cover it with white silkscreen?

    Keep in mind that we would only need to machine one PCB’s side.

    Another concern is the top panel. As previously mentioned we’re currently using a tinted acrylic panel, which may not be the best solution to prevent scratches. We’re thinking to use glass in the future (corning gorilla glass?) so we may also hide everything around the display’s active area. Do you guys have any experience with this? Would it be expensive in relatively small quantities?

    As you can see, we still need to find the best compromises and we hope you can help us. Please post a quick message in the comment section below or contact the team in the official Mooltipass Google Group.

     

    Filed under: Featured, Hackaday Columns, hardware

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 19:00
    DIY Linear Actuators For A Flight Sim

    linear

    [Roland] has already built a few very cool and extremely realistic flight sims, but his latest project will put his current rig to shame. He’s building a six degree of freedom simulator based on homebuilt linear actuators of his own design.

    The actuator is powered by a large DC motor moving timing belts along the length of the enclosure. These timing belts are connected to a shaft that’s coupled to the frame with a few bungee cords. The bungee cords are important; without them, the timing belts would be carrying all the load of the sim – not a good thing if these actuators are moving an entire cockpit around a living room.

    Also on [Roland]‘s list of awesome stuff he’s building for his flight sims is a vibration system based on the BFF Shaker. This board takes data in from sim software and turns it into vibrations produced by either unbalanced DC motors or one of those ‘bass kicker’ transducers.

    It’s all very cool stuff, and with all the crazy upgrades [Roland] is doing to his sim rig, he’s doing much better than paying $300/hour to rent a Beechcraft Baron.

     

    Filed under: hardware, robots hacks

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