Radiation sensor shield for the Arduino

The [Libelium] team wanted to help people in Japan measure radiation in their surroundings following the nuclear accident in Fukushima. Because of the affordability and seeming ubiquity of the Arduino platform, they have been hard at work this last month trying to get their Geiger counter sensor board for an Arduino out the door. We think they’ve done a remarkable job.

A Geiger tube is a remarkably simple device, but getting the part can be a fairly expensive proposition. Thankfully, [Libelium] has already tested and verified a number of tubes from different manufacturers – very helpful if you don’t want to be tied down to one specific component.

This looks like this is just the sort of thing that the folks at [Seed Studio] wanted for an open hardware radiation detector, and [Libelium] has already shipped their first batch to the Tokyo Hackerspace. It’s good to know that help is going where it’s needed.

Video of the sensor board being tested after the break.

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Musical Tesla concert is electrifying

musical_tesla_coil

Hackaday reader [Tyler Laseter] wrote in to tell us about an event that he and his fellow Tesla Orchestra team members are hosting next month.

The “Open Spark Project” is a concert event taking place on May 14th, which melds together electricity and music in spectacular fashion. The event features two large Tesla coils which are tuned to play musical notes while shooting bolts of electricity through the air.

Musical Tesla coils are nothing new around here, but we have yet to see someone allow the general public to play music on their coils. That’s what makes this event unique – anyone is encouraged to submit their to the Tesla Orchestra team, which will then be played back via a live video stream next month. Their web site offers up all of the technical details as well as the file format requirements for submitting music for the event, so get started on your entry today!

If a passive approach is more your style, stick around for a quick video demonstrating their coils’ abilities. Sure it’s Lady Gaga, but we won’t tell anyone you watched it. Plus, it’s totally legit when the song is being played using 20,000 volts.

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IP-based engine remote enable switch

remote_enable_switch

[Mariano] owns a late 90’s Jeep Wrangler, and had no idea just how easy it was to steal. Unfortunately for him, the guy who made off with his Jeep was well aware of the car’s vulnerabilities. The problem lies in the ignition – it can be broken out with a screwdriver, after which, the car can be started with a single finger. How’s that for security?

[Mariano] decided that he would take matters into his own hands and add a remote-controlled switch to his car in order to encourage the next would-be thief to move on to an easier target. He describes his creation as a “remote kill” switch, though it’s more of a “remote enable” switch, enabling the engine when he wants to start the car rather than killing it on command.

The switch system is made up of two pieces – a server inside the car’s engine bay, and a remote key fob. The server and the fob speak to one another using IPv6 over 802.15.4 (the same standard used by ZigBee modules). Once the server receives a GET request from the key fob, it authenticates the user with a 128-bit AES challenge/response session, allowing the car to be started.

It is not the simplest way of adding a remote-kill switch to a car, but we like it. Unless the next potential car thief digs under the hood for a while, we’re pretty sure [Mariano’s] car will be safe for quite some time.

Hacking gets a cover story

We do see hacking in mainstream print media from time to time, but you know the movement must be gathering steam when a collection of hacks gets the cover story in a local paper. This week’s issue of The Isthmus – the premiere free newspaper here in Madison, WI – features the local hackerspace and a handful of green hacks.

The man seen riding the pedal-powered plow above is [Kevin Blake], a mechanical engineer for Trek Bicycles which is headquartered in Waterloo, WI. He built the rig with the chassis of a riding lawnmower, adding shovel blades in a V-shape on the front, with cranks and other parts salvaged from bicycles.

The article goes on to feature the local hackerspace, Sector67, by interviewing its founder, [Chris Meyer]. The paper tracked down some other local hackers (and Sector67 members) who have been prototyping wind turbines.

The largest feature in the story goes to [Ben Nelson’s] Geo Metro electric vehicle conversion. The self-employed video producer picked up the diminutive car for about $500 and dropped in a forklift motor which he picked up at a garage sale ($50 + $50 for new brushes makes for a steal at $100). But here’s the best part of the project: after ripping out the unneeded parts for the car he sold them for $550. Anyway, all said and done he’s got about $1300 invested in the project and now has an all-electric car that gets up to 45 mph with a range of twenty miles in between charges. Maybe a big tail cone would help extend that reach.

This is the most interesting stuff we’ve read in the newspaper in years. Maybe you should contact your local journalists for a feature in your area? If they’re not receptive, don’t fret… we’re always looking for great builds to feature here at Hackaday.

Chatbox wireless IM client

[Utpal Solanki] wanted to do some text chatting from the comfort of the couch. He built this wireless chat client that he calls Chatbox using a microcontroller, a character LCD screen, and a keypad that he built himself.

The device communicates via an Infrared emitter and receiver. It pairs up with an Arduino using an IR shield that [Utpal] built. The handheld unit flashes a pair of white LEDs whenever it receives a message from the Arduino. You can then hit the Inbox button and scroll through to read what was received. To reply  just type on the keypad the same way you would with a cellphone, then hit the send button to shoot that message back to the Arduino.

On the computer side of things the messages are being relayed to and from the Arduino over a USB connection. Early on in the video demonstration (embedded after the break) [Utpal] shows his Chat Box program communicating via the handheld unit in the same way that other messenger programs work.

Looks to us like he’s built his own non-pink version of what the IM-ME was originally intended to do.

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DTMF shield aimed at ham controlled Arduino

[Colin] wanted a way to reliably control an Arduino via ham radio. One of the easiest methods of automated radio control makes use of Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency signalling. To those who aren’t into amatuer radio you probably recognized DTMF as the touch-tone system for telephone communications. [Colin] built a shield that has an audio input and can decode DTMF signals.

The hardware is based around an MT8870 DTMF decoder chip. This is a popular choice for DTMF hardware because it does all of the decoding work for you. Whenever a valid tone is detected it outputs the associated value in binary on four output pins. There is a fifth pin that strobes after each new tone. [Colin’s] design offers a lot of feedback for what’s going on with the input signal. The DTMF value is displayed on a 7-segment display (controlled completely in hardware), the value is output on for Binary Coded Decimal pins, and mapped to a set of ten pins which pull to ground to match the digit received.

Webcam turned security cam with motion detected email notifications

[Sean] used his old webcam to assemble a closed circuit television feed for his home. He already had a server up and running, so this was just a matter of connecting a camera and setting up the software. He wasn’t satisfied by only having a live feed, so he decided to add a few more features to the system.

He started off by hanging a webcam near the front of his house. He mentions that he’s not sure this will last long exposed to the elements, but we think it’d be dead simple to build an enclosure with a resealable container and a nice piece of acrylic as a windows. But we digress…

The camera connects via USB to the server living in the garage. [Sean’s] setup uses Yawcam to create a live feed that can be access from the Internet. The software also includes motion detection capabilities. Since he wanted to have push notifications when there was action within the camera’s view he also set up Growl alert him via his iOS devices. You can see [Sean] demonstrate his completed CCTV system in the video below the fold.

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