PID controlled Bradley smoker clone


Bradley smokers are coveted for their ease of use, as they require very little interaction from the user once the hopper is loaded with wood pucks and the machine is powered on. The more robust models are quite pricey, so [Maukka] decided to build his own version of a Bradley smoker as an add on to his existing unit. He fabricated a smoke generator out of aluminum, including all of the components you would normally find in an automated smoker. Once the hopper is loaded with wood pucks, the smoker runs autonomously, shuffling new pucks onto the heating element, presumably at timed intervals. The main barrel of the smoker has a separate PIC-controlled heating element installed, and is connected to the smoke generator by an aluminum duct. This configuration allows [Maukka] to cold smoke items such as fish, nuts, and cheeses using the smoke generator by itself, while also permitting the smoking of meats at far higher temperatures when the main heating element is used. This is truly a fantastic build, and the cold smoker component is something I would love to have as an addition to my Weber bullet.

Be sure to explore his blog a bit to catch all of the build details, as they are separated into various posts.

[Thanks Hali Batsuiba]

LED dog collar, Christmas edition

[Aaron] says in our comments that he also made an LED dog collar. This Christmas themed dog collar uses an ATTiny13a and a hand full of red and green LEDs (28?). While the animations aren’t as complex as the collar we posted earlier today, we though you might enjoy this one as well. From the description, we think that the LEDs simply fade back and forth between red and green.  We think that [Aaron] did a great job. He has included the source code and schematic on his site, but sadly there’s no video of this collar in action.

The plant whisperer

[Jeff], fully acknowledging his inability to keep plants alive, has designed a system to help him out a little bit. The “Plant Whisperer” monitors water levels and notifies him if the plant needs attention. Actually, it notifies him either way. The plant whisperer uses real time text to speech to say one of several pre-programmed things, either proclaiming its happiness or requesting more water. He’s using a parallax propeller for the job as he says it is capable of handling the real time text to speech. We realize this is overkill, but we absolutely love it. The only improvement we would want would be to possibly use a pre-recorded voice for more clarity.  You can see a video of it in action after the break.

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RFID triggered presentation box


[Lace] needed to build a “box project” for his college art class and figured he could spice things up a bit by adding some electronic components to the mix. His project, dubbed the ‘Blasphemous Bible Box‘ consists of a bible opened up the section of the book of Revelations that discusses the mark of the beast in an old cigar box. The box is normally locked, but has been programmed to unhook an internal latch when he passes the RFID chip embedded in his hand over it. The effect could have been achieved using a simpler circuit, but the enclosed Arduino seems to do the job decently enough. [Lace] has not mentioned if he has considered revising the box any, but a spring-loaded external latch secured with a magnetic lock would make for a nice effect if version 2 was ever built. Adding a servo to slowly open the box as well as including a speaker blaring Carmina Burana – O Fortuna upon opening would be pretty cool as well (hint, hint). We have video of the box in action after the break.

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Thermic lance made from spaghetti


[Frogz] sent in a video he found of a thermic lance constructed from spaghetti. If you are not familiar, thermic lances are typically comprised of an iron tube filled with iron rods, which are then burned using highly pressurized oxygen. This lance however, was built by tightly wrapping a bundle of spaghetti in aluminum foil and attaching it to an oxygen tank. While thermic lances are commonly used in heavy construction where thick steel needs to be cut, [latexiron] and his friends use theirs to cut apart a chair. While we don’t necessarily condone drunken destruction of innocent patio furniture, we can’t help but watch this video again and again in amazement of the incredibly novel use of everyday pasta. You too can join in the drunken revelry after the jump. If food-based cutting torches are your thing, be sure to check out this bacon lance as well.

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How the arduino won? This is how we can kill it.

[Phillip Torrone],  has written a piece over at Make entitled “Why the Arduino won, and why it’s here to stay“. While boasting that the Arduino “won” at roughly 100k units in the wild sounds decently impressive at first, lets just ponder for a moment how many bare AVR chips there are out there in home-made projects. Kind of makes 100k sound small doesn’t it.  However, if you look at their definition of the Arduino, targeting fresh and new people to microcontroller projects, that changes things a little bit. That number suddenly starts to seem a little more important if you re-word it as 100,000 new beginner hackers. Sure, they’re only tweeting toilet flushes and blinking lights, but they’re excited and they’ve tasted blood.

[Phil] goes on to talk to manufacturers on how to “beat” the Arduino. He lists features that would help push someone onto a new platform instead of the Arduino. This, is where I think we come in. We can kill the Arduino.

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Bellows Camera to DSLR

[Jonas Kroyer] is a digital  photographer, with a fascination with old cameras and pairing the two together sounded like a fun idea. Searching around on the net he fell in love with the design of the Zeiss Ikon Ikonette (1929-31), and found one with a chipped lens.

After dismantling the camera completely, it was found out that he needed the lens/shutter mechanism, the bellows, and the rails that allow the lens to slide back and forth. The bellows were glued to the body of the camera, but some careful prying and they were quickly removed unharmed. Next was to make an adapter so he could attach the lens to a digital DSLR camera, a steel plate and a Nikon Bayonet swiped off of a no name lens holds everything together. Rails were reattached using rivets, and the bellows were glued onto the plate. Other mods include adding small brass knobs to aid in adjustments, and a spring from a ballpoint pen to hold the original shutter open.

The new old lens is said to be easy to operate, and produces some beautiful images. Though since the lens does not have any modern day coatings it does have its drawbacks, like a diamond shaped flare in the middle of the image, which can be good when you want it, or partially removed in photoshop if you don’t.