Take better pictures of your projects

[PT] let us know about a fantastic guide to taking better photographs of your projects. It’s a hefty read but well worth the effort. Author [Johngineer] helps us understand how to use simple (and possibly inexpensive) tools like lights, mirrors, and a background material. He also gives some tips on how to recognize what your image processing software is telling your about your photography skills (get the correct camera setup and you won’t need correct your levels in The GIMP). There’s even some tips on photographing LEDs, a topic we’ve seen before, which you’re bound to find useful when trying to make that blinky thing you built into an Internet sensation.

Wristwatch board with throwback digits

This wristwatch circuit board has some pretty interesting digits. They’re older components that give a classic look to your wristwatch display. On board you’ll find a PIC 16F628A running with an external clock crystal. The display isn’t always illuminated (kind of like Woz’s watch) in order to save the batteries, but can be woken up for a short time with the push of a button. The steam-punk-ish body seen to the left is the just first try. This guy has four more boards left so it should be fun to see what he comes up with.

[Via Hackaday Flickr Pool]

Modem used in an alarm system

This alarm system senses motion and then alerts you by phone. [Oscar] had an old external modem sitting around and, with some wise hardware choices, he came up with a simple circuit to use it. First up is the PIC 16F628A chosen because it doesn’t require an external crystal. This connects with the modem via a DS275 RS232 transceiver because it requires no external parts for connection. The final portion of the puzzle is a PIR sensor that triggers a pin interrupt in the sleeping PIC, which then dials your number to alert you. It doesn’t look like anything happens other than your phone ringing, but that’s enough for a simple system. We’re just happy to see how easy it was to use that modem… time to go hunting for one in dreaded junk trunk. Don’t miss the clip after the break.

[Read more...]

EL Wire: make it, connect it, power it

[Jeri's] back with a series of videos that outlines the step-by-step electroluminescent wire manufacturing, making EL panels from PCBs, and assembling power supplies for EL hardware. These concepts are actually quite approachable, something we don’t expect from someone who makes their own integrated circuits at home.

The concept here is that an alternating current traveling through phosphors will excite them and produce light. You need two conductors separated by a dielectric to get the job done. For wire, [Jeri] uses one strand of enameled magnet wire and one strand of bare wire. The enamel insulates them, protecting against a short circuit.

But that’s not all, she also tests using a circuit board as an EL panel. By repurposing the ground plane as one of the conductors, and using the solder mask as the dielectric she is able to paint on a phosphor product resulting in the glowing panel.

Finally, you’ve got to get juice to the circuit and that’s where her power supply video comes into the picture. We’ve embedded all three after the break. It’s possible that this is cooler than blinking LEDs and it’s fairly inexpensive to get started. The circuitry is forgiving, as long as you don’t zap yourself with that alternating current.

[Read more...]

Electric scooter sings as it travels

This scooter has been fitted with a three-phase induction motor. It reminds us of the sound effects from vehicles in the Jetsons. Right now they’re using lead-acid batteries and get about 15 miles of range from one charge. Once they switch over to lithium polymer they calculate the range will be closer to 45 miles due to the reduced weight and increased capacity. Not bad for $600 in parts, and we’d bet it’s both faster and more stable than the one-wheeled-wonder we saw last week.

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