DIY car lighting illuminates areas the designers overlooked

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[Dave] just can’t seem to get enough of modifying his new car. Where he lives, it’s typically dark on his ride home from work and he finds himself dropping things on the floor of his car all too often. Nissan decided not to include lighting in the Juke’s foot well or glove box, so [Dave] decided that he needed to rectify the situation.

As you might have noticed by his previous tinkering, [Dave] is a big fan of LEDs and ATTiny microcontrollers. He added some Lego-supported LEDs to the driver and passenger side foot wells, installing an additional light in the glove box while he was at it.

The Juke had a couple of usable blank spots on the dashboard, so [Dave] installed a pair of capacitive touch sensors and a small switch into one of the open slots. When touched, the top-most capacitive pin pair ramps up the foot well lights, while the lower pair turns on the LEDs in the glove box. The switch at the bottom is used to toggle on a light in the back seat which he installed a while back.

It’s a simple addition, but it makes all the difference when he is hunting around on the floor in the dark. We are a bit surprised by how many amenities are missing from the Juke, but tweaking them to his liking seems to keep [Dave] happily occupied.

Continue reading to see a short demo video of his interior lights in action.

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New Siri hack controls your car

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Siri can make appointments, tell you the weather, but now she can start your car as well!

After we showed you how Siri could be hacked to use a custom proxy and execute custom commands, we knew it wouldn’t be long before additional hacks would start rolling in. [Brandon Fiquett] thought it would be great if Siri could remotely control his car, so he built this functionality into Siri using [Pete’s] proxy software.

The hack relies on the Viper remote start system he had installed in his car, along with a few modules loaded into his proxy server. His proxy server tweaks allow Siri to interpret a preset list of commands such as “Vehicle Start” and “Vehicle Arm/Disarm”, relaying the commands to the Viper SmartStart module.

We imagine that the back-end functionality is not unlike the existing SmartStart iOS app, but it looks like [Brandon] beat Viper to the game since Siri has not been made available to 3rd party developers as of yet.

Check out the video below to see Siri in action, then be sure to swing by his web site for additional videos as well as the code that makes this possible.

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ANT+ networks using an MSP430 chip and Android phone

[Jbremnant] wanted to try his hand with ANT+ wireless networks. This protocol is designed for light-weight and low-power consumer electronics, like heart rate chest straps and bicycle computers (Garmin brand devices for example). There are already libraries out there for Arduino, but [Jbremnant] found that most of them were written as slave-only code. He set out to use an MSP430 to drive a fully functioning ANT network including a computer and an Android phone.

The TI Launchpad is used as the master node in the network. [Jbremnant] chose the smaller of the two MSP430 processors that came with the dev platform. After starting down this road he realized that chip didn’t have a hardware UART needed to communicate with the SparkFun ANT board (based on the nRF24AP1 radio chip). Rolling with the punches, he used a software UART he had previously worked with. Now he’s able to transmit test data from the Launchpad. It is picked up by both a USB dongle on his computer and the Android phone seen above. Check out his demo video after the break.

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LED sconces spice up dorm room parties

This dorm room is ready to entertain, thanks in part to the LED wall sconces that [Joseph] hacked together. Inside each fixture you’ll find three 3-Watt LED modules. For proper heat dissipation he mounted them on sheet metal which he cut out, including some fingers for additional surface area. The shape for the heat sink was chosen to fit behind the diffuser of the sconce, which is an incandescent light fixture with the socket removed.

[Joseph] designed his own control boards for the base station and LED modules. They communicate with each other via RS485, which lets him run CAT-5 cable to each, but the lights do require external power as well. The controller itself is a USB dongle which takes the serial commands from a computer and pushes them out over the RS485 protocol. In the video after the break you can get a good look at the hardware and the overall performance of the system.

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Learn a new fabrication technique from DIY prosthetics builders

This is a screenshot from a video tutorial on making your own prosthetic parts from 2-liter soda bottles. The opaque white part is a mold made of plaster. It’s a representation of the wearer’s limb, and provides the hard, heat-resistant form necessary for this manufacturing technique. You can see the clear plastic soda bottle which fits over the form after the bottom was removed. A heat gun causes the plastic to shrink to the shape of the plaster model.

Once formed, the threaded neck is split down the middle with a band saw. This will receive a piece of 1/2″ PVC pipe to be held in place by the neck and a pipe clamp. It’s possible to stop there, but a second video details an additional bottle used to make the device more rigid. See both videos after the break.

This manufacturing process is aimed at parts of the world that don’t have access to advanced prosthetics. We think it’s a wonderful demonstration of what can be done to improve the lives of amputees. We also think it’s a technique that can be used in other projects… we just haven’t figured out what those are as of yet.

It’s amazing how versatile this plastic waste can be if you put your mind to it.

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Building a 1300 lumen bike light

[Brainiac27] isn’t going to let the absence of sun prevent him from biking. He has no trouble lighting his path with this 1300 Lumen bike light he built.

The light source is a 3-up star by Cree. It puts off a lot of light, but also generates quite a bit of heat which is the reason for that large heat sink. It is meant to be used with a CPU but works well for this purpose thanks to the adhesive thermal paste used to unite the two parts.

The mounting bracket is a custom job, bent from 1″ by 1/8″ aluminum bar. [Brainiac27] had some issues with length the first time he tried making it. For his second attempt he started with an overly long piece, made the bends from the center out, and only made cuts once the bends were all completed. The bracket makes it easy to mount to his bike, with the battery stored in a bike bottle and a remote switch (with attaches to the jack you can see on the project box above) hidden underneath one of the brake hoods.

The intensity of this light nearly doubles one of our other favorites.

Building a digital camera from scratch

Sure, [Stan] could have bought a nice full-frame DSLR like a Canon 5D or a Nikon D3, but where’s the fun in that when he could build his own digital camera? The build isn’t done yet, but [Stan] did manage to take a few sample pics.

The 14 Megapixel sensor [Stan] found was originally used for benchtop applications. There isn’t any reason it can’t be used for photography, so all that needed to be done was design a camera around this sensor.

[Stan] built his hardware around a DSP, an FPGA and a pair of ADCs, an amazing piece of engineering. Of course building a full-frame digital camera has as much to do with mechanics as electronics, so [Stan] used a 60mm cage system and a 3d-printed nylon enclosure.

Of course, [Stan]’s camera doesn’t look much like and off-the-shelf DSLR. There’s a reason for this; the sensor in the camera has a rolling shutter, much like the last few iPhones instead of a focal plane shutter. Not a bad piece of work, we only wish there were more build pics.