Quieting an inexpensive bench power supply

[Mike] just purchased this Atten APS3005S bench power supply for around $80. It does the job, but boy is it noisy! We were pretty surprised to hear it fire up in the video after the break. To make matters worse, the noise is persistent since the fan never shuts off. Having worked with other bench supplies he knew that a common feature included in many models is temperature controlled case fans. He set out to quiet the fan and implement a temperature switch.

For this project [Mike] had the benefit of looking at a nearly identical model that does have temperature switching. He discovered that the board on this one has a through-hole zero ohm resistor populated in place of a thermostat switch. That switch closes the connection at or above 45 degree Celsius, thereby turning on the cooling fan. Bridging the traces with a zero ohm resistor to save on production costs is what caused the fan to run continuously. After replacing the resistor with a KSD-01F and swapping out the stock fan for a high-quality version [Mike] has takes a noise maker and turned it into a device that’s kind to the ears.

[Read more...]

808 camera hack produces a time-lapse Tic Tac box

It’s not really conceived as a spy cam, but it could be. [Quinn Dunki] built this tiny time-lapse camera project with racing in mind. She’s involved in a group that endurance races clunkers, and part of the fun is sharing the experience of riding around in the old beaters. The module seen above takes a picture every four seconds and will last 24 hours before needing new batteries or an SD card change. We wonder if that’s longer than some of the ‘racecars’ make it?

She picked up an 808 camera, which looks like the key fob you use to unlock your car doors. They’re so cheap you can include them in projects and not really care if you don’t get them back. Inside it’s got a small lithium battery, the circuit board with a processor, microSD card slot, and of course the SSD used to capture the images. To control the device she used a tiny relay with an ATtiny13 used for the timing. We think the battery selection is a bit overboard, but maybe the next version will be a little more conservative.

There was one folly along the way. She wanted to attach this to the body of the car with a handful of magnets. But they don’t play nicely with the magnetic relays so that was out. The solution was to add that lanyard ring to the case which will allow the camera to be zip tied to the vehicle. So far there are no time-lapse movies available, but keep your eyes on our links posts and we’ll try to include one when it pops up.

Sentry gun controller-board upgrade

This open source sentry gun controller board builds on a great concept by getting rid of the Arduino board. The previous version was an Arduino shield, but this upgrade keeps all of the cool features by rolling the necessary parts into one smaller footprint.

The image above doesn’t quite convey the scope of the project. Go take a look at the feature from last year which used the shield version of the controller. That build used a servo-mounted paintball gun in conjunction with a webcam. You can still build the same platform, but use the open-source files to include this board. It has outputs for three servo motors, and can also interface with airsoft or paintball guns which have their own electronic triggers and integrated batteries.

We always like to see the schematic for projects like this one. For your convenience we exported an image from the Eagle package. You can find it, along with the demo video, after the break.

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Trumpet Hero

[Evilsigntist] combined an old cornet with an old PS2 guitar hero controller to produce the Trumpet Hero. The fragile looking conglomeration really brings a smile to our faces. Just make sure the instrument has already seen the end of its days before drilling holes to mount the various parts.

In the image above you can see that the three valve buttons have been painted to correspond to frets on the original guitar controller. The orange and blue frets are positioned for the left hand to operate. There seems to be a couple of different version because there is a diagram showing a mute in the bell that can be twisted for whammy bar input, but that’s not shown here. Strumming is accomplished by blowing through the mouthpiece, but as you can see in the video after the break, no buzzing is necessary.

Using actual instruments as game inputs is a lot of fun. We always think back to the flute and drum set controllers for Rock Band.

[Read more...]

Tricorder project brings the fabled devices into existence

Whether or not you love Star Trek we’d bet you know what a Tricorder is. The handheld device capable of gathering information about the environment around you, or taking health diagnostics about an injured crew member, seemed like unfathomably advanced technology when first seen on the original television series. But our technology has advance so quickly that you can now build a Tricorder of your own. That’s exactly what [Peter Jansen] has done. He founded the Tricorder project as a way to put a useful scientific instrument in the hands for the curious masses.

In the promo video embedded after the break [Dr. Jansen] gives us a recap of his progress so far. Three versions of the project have already been produced, and a fourth is under way. The first iteration could take atmospheric, spacial, and magnetic readings. This covers things like temperature, humidity, GPS data, light intensity, and distance measurements among others. Housed in a dark grey case it looks much like the original prop.

The second model, which is seen above, implements a swapable sensor board. That’s the part hanging off the top, but the finished model will enclose that part of the case. The hardware on this is fantastic, using an ARM processor running Linux and two 2.8″ OLED touchscreen displays. But both of these models have a price tag that’s just too high for widespread use. He’s been working on two more, the Mark 3 and Mark 4. The most recent is in software development right now with the hopes of mass production when all the details are worked out.

There’s a lot of info to dig through on the project’s site. It’s open source and all the goodies we usually look for are there.

[Read more...]

Rain barrel irrigation system keeps your plants fed when you’re too busy

sprinkler-controler

[Kyle Gabriel] moved into a house with a nice tract of land behind it, but due to his busy schedule he had yet to plant the garden he so desperately wanted. He worried that his hectic life and busy hours would lead to accidentally neglecting his garden, so he built a water collection and automated irrigation system to ensure that his plants never went without fresh water.

The system is fed by two large 55 gallon barrels that collect rain from his gutters. A 1/2 HP well pump is used to pressurize the collected water, which is then dispensed throughout his garden by a sprinkler. [Kyle’s] system is run from a small control box where an Arduino is used to control the pump’s schedule. At a predefined time, the Arduino turns the pump on, while monitoring the system for potential problems.

If the system starts running low on water, the Arduino triggers the valve on his spigot to open, keeping the water level above the pump inlet pipe. He also keeps an eye on pump’s outlet pressure, indefinitely disabling it before a blockage causes the pump to cycle repeatedly.

He says that the sprinkler system works quite well, and with his modular design, he can add all sorts of additional functionality in the future.

Glue Stick + Servo = Linear Actuator

glue stick linear actuator

What do you get when you cross a glue stick with a hobby servo motor? A linear actuator, of course! Although this could be done with other household implements, the form factor of this glue stick seems perfectly suited to sit on top of a servo horn.

The servo, as you might have guessed, has to be converted to rotate fully instead of the 180 degrees or so that is typical of these types of motors. The trick to this, and what really makes it shine in our eyes, is that instead of attaching two resistors in a normal continuous rotation mod, the potentiometer is used on the glue stick allowing for position feedback.

The resulting force from this gear-reduced actuator is quite impressive, giving an “err” (over 3 Kilograms) on the scale used for testing. [Gareth] or [Chiprobot] gives a great tutorial of how to make one of these after the break, but if you’d rather just see it in action, skip to around 8:20! [Read more...]

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