Head-mounted light display takes holiday cheer on the go

hat-mounted-light-display

Most holiday light displays we see this time of year are stationary, or at least confined to somebody’s home. [Marco Guardigli] wanted to take his lights on the go, and thought that a light up winter hat would be perfect for showing off his holiday spirit.

In the winter he sports a sturdy wool felt hat, which was ideal for mounting LEDs. He picked up a basic LilyPad Arduino that uses a small LiPo battery as its power source, mounting it inside the hat with a bit of glue. He wired up a series of SMD LEDs around the perimeter of the hat which blend in quite well in the felt, leaving them nearly invisible to the naked eye when powered off. When he flips the LilyPad on however, there’s no missing the bright blue LEDs nor the music emanating from the tiny speaker he also mounted in the hat.

We think that [Marco's] display is great, and if we were to build one, we would likely include a copious amount of red and green LEDs in ours. Do any of you take your Christmas light display on the go? We’d love to see them, so be sure to let us know in the comments.

Stick around to see a short video of [Marco’s] hat in action.

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Xbee remote sensors tell you when someone enters your home

[Bill Porter] is helping a friend out by designing a simple security system for her home. It relies on Xbee modules to alert a base station when doors are opened, or a pressure mat is stepped on.

The door sensors are quite simple, and you’re probably already familiar with them. One part mounts to the door and has a magnet in it, the mating part mounts to the jamb and has a reed switch that closes a contact when the magnet is in place. The floor mat uses two sheets of conductive material separated by bits of foam. When it is stepped on a circuit is completed and can be sensed by the Xbee as a button press.

These sensors report back to an Arduino base station that has a buzzer and three 8×8 LED modules to scroll a message saying which sensor was tripped. [Bill] does a good job of showing what goes into configuring an Xbee network if you’ve never worked with the hardware before.

You’ll find his demo video after the break.

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Cloud Mirror adds Internet to your morning ritual

This mirror has a large monitor behind it which can be operated using hand gestures. It’s the result of a team effort from [Daniel Burnham], [Anuj Patel], and [Sam Bell] to build a web-enabled mirror for their ECE 4180 class at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

So far they’ve implemented four widget for the system. You can see the icons which activate each in the column to the right of the mirror. From top to bottom they are Calendar, News, Traffic, and Weather. The video after the break shows the gestures used to control the display. First select the widget by holding your hand over the appropriate icon. Next, bring that widget to the main display area by swiping from right to left along the top of the mirror.

Hardware details are shared more freely in their presentation slides (PDF). A sonar distance sensor activated the device when a user is close enough to the screen. Seven IR reflectance sensors detect a hand placed in front of them. We like this input method, as it keep the ‘display’ area finger-print free. But we wonder if the IR sensors could be placed behind the glass instead of beside it?

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Controlling your Christmas lights without ever getting off the couch

remote-xmas-tree-light-switch

14 year-old [Connor Smith] has been busy this holiday season, thinking up ways to improve the lighting situation at home.

A few weeks ago he put together this 3-channel light controller to toggle his parents’ external lights, incorporating an Arduino for control. The Arduino was used to switch the channels on and off at specified intervals in order to create a simple light show on the house’s exterior. Not satisfied with just a few strings of blinky lights, he took his controller back inside for some additional modifications.

He had grown tired of crawling behind the Christmas tree to plug and unplug it every day, and decided to make things easier on himself. He stripped the IR receiver out of an old VCR and interfaced it with the Arduino in his light controller using the IRremote library. After taking a bit of time to decode the values for two infrequently used buttons on his TV remote, he had himself a Christmas tree light switch that he could activate from across the room.

Check out the short video below to see his remote switch in action.

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SMS remote start gives new life to your old smartphone

iphone-sms-remote-start

Hack a Day alum [Will O’Brien] recently upgraded his phone, and was trying to find a use for his old one. He always wanted a remote starter for his Subaru Outback, but wasn’t interested in paying for an off the shelf kit. Since he had this old smartphone kicking around, he thought that it would be the perfect starting point for an SMS-triggered remote start system.

He started off by jailbreaking his phone, which allows him to run some Perl scripts that are used to listen for incoming texts. Using a PodBreakout mini from Sparkfun he connected the phone to an Arduino, which is responsible for triggering the car’s ignition. Now, a simple text message containing the start command and a password can start his car from a anywhere in the world.

While [Will] is quite happy with his setup he already has improvements in mind, including a way for the Arduino to send a message back to him via SMS confirming that the car has been successfully started. He’s thinking about putting together a kit for others looking to add the same functionality to their own car, so be sure to check his site periodically for project updates.