Clamp sensor power monitoring

[Bill Porter] has joined in the pursuit of an inexpensive yet effective way to monitor his power usage. He calls his project the Not So Tiny Power Meter, and shared both his successes and follies involved in seeing it through to implementation. There are problems; sizing issues with enclosures and his PCB, issues with noise when measuring low-current signals with the clamps, and even some wireless communications issues. But it looks like he’s got the system running despite these hurdles. Right now it streams data wirelessly so that he can display the current energy consumption, but he plans to add Google Power Meter functionality next.

We’ve seen commercial units using the same sensing principles that have been hacked to show data online.

This hack really pushes our buttons

Yep, if you’ve got a button that needs pushing, this is one way to do it. [Travis] combined an old alarm clock with a car door-lock actuator and minimal logic circuitry to make this happen. When the alarm time is reached, the adjustable actuator comes down to press whichever button has been placed under it. In the video after the break he’s using it to schedule the start time for his Roomba, make his coffee, heat his pizza, or pointlessly press the clock’s own snooze button (classic). We think this is just begging to be used with a Rube-goldberg setup, perhaps to topple to dominos that other robot took the time to set up. Oh wait… that shows up in the video too. Fantastic!

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Macro photos using an under-light rig

[Aki Korhonen] wanted to tighten up his macro photography setup. He already had the camera for the job, but wanted a fully adjustable target platform that he could easily light. What he came up with is a jig to hold the camera and fine tune the subject of each photo. It uses a frame with a piece of glass whose distance from the lens is adjusted by turning a knob. Below the glass a reflective surface redirects light from an LED flashlight up through the platform, lighting the snowflakes he’s shooting. A fixed LED source is in the plans for the next rendition.

Take a look at the overview of his setup in the quick clip after the break.

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How to be a dinosaur for Christmas

Well, this metal suit might not make you a dinosaur, but it would be perfectly possible for you to play one on your computer. Retailing on eBay for a mere $2,397.99 OBO (plus Freight for a 350 pound box), this device was made and used for the motion capture of Ugobe’s Pleo Robot. With the right external components (no word on what those are), it would be perfectly possible to get this suit up an going back on Motion Capture as all the onboard electronics are included. This setup would be perfect for anyone planning an animated dinosaur movie that needs some reference movements, or for any mad scientist engineer who needs a control rig for a 40 story robotic dino of death. The possibilities are endless!

[eBay via Engadget]

German engineering produces an overcomplicated scarecrow

This electronic scarecrow keeps the birds away and makes your neighbors hate you at the same time. That’s because its way too loud, even if the next house is far away. The conrad.de folks that brought us the climbing bike storage device are at it again, putting together car audio and strings of lights as part of the bird-shoo-ing technology. In the video after the break you’ll see that they’re using a PIR motion sensor to switch power to an automotive amp and head unit. The speakers, strings of lights, and spinning doo-dads are all hidden under a black cape. When an unsuspecting bird tries to feast on the crops, the scarecrow unfolds its arm Dracula-style and raises a ruckus. We don’t expect to see this at a local farm, but maybe for next Halloween?

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