Motorcycle lighting upgrade ensures other drivers know you’re there

led-brake-lights

[Pete Mills] recently bought himself a motorcycle, and as people are known to do, they start trying to scare him with gruesome stories of cycling accidents once they hear about his purchase. While he tries to shrug them off as people simply not minding their own business, something must have resonated with him, because he started tinkering with the bike’s taillight in order to ensure he was always seen by other drivers.

He swapped out his motorcycle’s incandescent taillight for a smart LED-based lamp that he constructed using perfboard. Not only does his new brake light feature ultra bright LEDs, but the onboard ATtiny85 rapidly flashes the lights each time he hits the brakes, making his presence impossible to miss. Before everyone starts with the claims of, “Flashing red lights are illegal!”, let’s all take a deep breath and read on.

We’ve seen these sorts of lights on the back of motorcycles for years, though being a careful guy, [Pete] wrote to the state of Michigan in order to ensure that his modifications won’t get him pulled over. He has yet to hear back, but in the meantime, he merely needs to start the bike with the brakes applied to trigger the ATtiny85 to run the lights in “normal mode.”

Continue reading to see a short demo video of his brake light mod in action.

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Portal Radio is why Valve needs to build hardware

We’ve seen Portal gun builds, a few cute turret replicas, and even a miniaturized version of GLaDOS, but [John]‘s Portal radio replica is the first physical version of this oft-forgotten Portal item.

Interestingly, the entire radio is made from scrap. The spheroid body shell is made from the foam insulation from a commercial freezer, carefully sculpted, Bondoed, and painted over the course of 300 hours. The radio guts are taken from an upcycled radio, and powered by either an internal battery or a wall wart DC adapter – perfect for carrying around a test chamber with a portal gun.

Right now, there’s an AM/FM receiver inside the radio along with an audio input so an iPod or such can be plugged in. While we would have loved to see a loop of theuptempo version Still Alive, we’re guessing [John] hasn’t found an easy way to do that with junked parts yet.

Check out [John]‘s build video after the break.

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DIY battery powered soldering iron

When it’s time to get started on a project and put our irons in the fire, we usually reach for a nice Weller or Hakko soldering iron. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible when we’re soldering something away from a wall outlet. Portable soldering irons usually range from slightly to completely terrible, and [Adam] thought he could do better. He put together an Instructable for a portable battery-powered soldering iron that’s extremely easy to build.

[Adam]‘s project mounts a standard Radio Shack soldering iron tip in an E-10 flashlight bulb socket. Power is provided by 6 Volts of AA batteries, with a small switch added for the obvious safety concerns. Although [Adam] could have added a small project box, he chose to build his entire project around a piece of wood. This is an excellent choice in our humble opinion; wood doesn’t melt, has very low thermal conductivity, and anyone using this iron should be smart enough to turn it off if the handle starts smoking.

While this isn’t the best possible portable soldering iron (we’re partial to the disposable-lighter-fueled torches with a soldering iron attachment), it’s much better than the ColdHeat soldering iron that received consistently bad reviews.

Edit: [Adam] updated his build to be a little safer after this story was posted. We changed the original title pic to reflect this; here’s the old one.

Tiny Quadcopter gets an update, on the verge of flying without PC

Crazyflie, the itty bitty quadcopter that uses a PCB for its frame is at the cusp of being able to fly without a PC. We were enamored with it when we first spotted it, and the Crazyflie has only gotten better. As you can see, a new PCB gives it a slightly more stylized look, but that’s not all. There have been major improvements to the design of the software, and various parts of the hardware. They’re waiting for the final prototype to arrive from the factory to test the ultimate goal, PC-less flight.  We’re not sure why this tiny quadcopter is so enthralling, but it sure has us captivated.

Be sure to check out another flight video after the break.

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Upgrading a Rockford Fosgate Punch 601s to an 801s with just a handful of parts

[Simon] had a Rockford Fosgate Punch 601s amplifier in his car, and while it was a great piece of equipment, he wanted a little more power behind his stereo system. It turns out that with just a handful of parts and a bit of soldering work, he was able to increase his amplifier’s output by 200 watts, putting it on par with a Punch 801s.

The main board in each amp is laid out identically, making the conversion a relatively easy process. A handful of MOSFETs need to be added, along with some resistors and capacitors. Most of the work can be done with a decent soldering iron, though you might want a hot air reflow station to handle the smaller resistors – it all depends on your skill set.

We’re really not sure how big the price difference is between the two amps, but we’re pretty certain that the conversion would be worth it. [Simon] sells conversion kits on his web site for under $60, but you may be able to find the parts for a bit less if you hunt around.