Bananaphone lets you use fruit and other things as switches

We’re used to [Sprite_TM] rolling out his own hacks hot on the heels of new concepts. Now we’re glad to see that [Jeff Ledger] is doing the same thing here. He was inspired by a Kickstarter project which vows to let you use fruit, clay, and a number of other common (but weird for this use) substances to interface with electronic projects. The mess you see above is the Bananaphone, a synthesizer played with touch sensitive bananas. Think of them as keys on a piano.

The interface works by measuring R/C decay. Each banana is connected to its own input pin on the Propeller board. The capacitance of the bananas rise when you touch them, and this results in a longer R/C decay measurement. Calibrate the target decay period, and you’ve got a reliable capacitive touch sensor which also happens to be delicious. Check out the results which [Jeff] achieves in the video after the break.

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Time and date clock does it with RGB LED strips

[Craig's] color clock really came together quite nicely. The majority of the body is acrylic, with two large clear squares and a pair of colored discs. All are held in place by a ring of hardware with spacers in them, and the RGB LED strip that is used to display time and date wraps around those spacers. This hides the components in the center, with a USB cord connecting to the Arduino compatible board to power the device.

Hours are displayed in red, with minutes shown in green, and blue used as a background color. In the center you can see one of two red LEDs which alternate like a pendulum to mark the passing seconds. There are timed events every ten , fifteen, and thirty minute. At the fifteen minute mark the clock switches to display the date. The other two events are animations to keep things interesting. All of the settings for the clock are accessed using just two momentary push buttons mounted on the back of the clock.

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Building a Ranque-Hilsch vortex cooling tube

The Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube is an interesting piece of equipment. It can, without any moving parts or chemicals, separate hot and cold compressed gasses that are passed through it. Interestingly enough, you can cobble one together with very few parts for fairly cheap. [Otto Belden] tossed one together in a weekend back in 2009 just to see if he could do it. His results were fairly good and he shared some video tutorials on its construction.

His latest version, which you can see in the video below, takes compressed air at about 78degrees and spits out about 112degrees on the hot side and  8degrees on the cold side. Not too bad!

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A bit more about the diode

Last week we covered diodes, specifically thermionic and PN junction diodes. But oh, there are more; and they’re special!

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Making a miniature X-Ray tube from scratch

We know that most of you will have no reason to ever make a miniature X-ray tube. However, we also know that many of you will find this video mesmerizing like we did. [Glasslinger] does a fantastic job of explaining the entire process of creating the mini x-ray tube from, procuring the uranium glass and tungsten stem, creating the filament from scratch, all the glass work, and the testing.

Admittedly, most of us here at hackaday won’t go any further than admiring the craftsmanship, though we’re curious to see what [Adam Munich] has to say when he sees this story.

If you enjoyed the tube construction in the video, be sure to check out [Glasslinger's] other videos. He makes all kinds of tubes in his shop and usually shares so much information along the process that each one has useful information beyond that particular project. Another crazy part is that he has made most of his own tools, including his glass lathe.

We really shouldn’t have to point out that X-Rays are dangerous. Don’t mess with them unless you have researched how to do it safely.

Brawndo Drinking Fountain – It’s Got What Geeks Crave!

brawndo fountain

If you’re tired of drinking mere water, like from the toilet, then you should definitely install a Brawndo¬†drinking fountain. Apparently, in addition to being what plants crave, geeks also enjoy this futuristic beverage.

As with many hacks, this fountain started out with a broken piece of equipment – a water fountain. After searching unsuccessfully for a new pushbutton valve [Dave] and [Craig] decided to use a solenoid valve instead. Logically, they decided that if a new valve was needed, some new features to go along with it were also needed. Along with this valve, a peristalsis pump was installed to add flavoring to the water if Brawndo was selected (as opposed to toilet water).

The hack was finished off with some nice decals and a switch plate. As you may have suspected, the Brawndo fountain was custom made for a makerspace.¬† In this case Kansas City’s own Hammerspace. Be sure to check them out if you’re in the area!

Tron costume fits nice and snug

We’ve seen our fair share of Tron costumes and props, but much like [Sean-h] points out, they are usually pretty bulky and baggy. He’s gone a slightly different route by starting with a wetsuit instead of bulkier items like leather jackets. The lighting is done in the same manner we’ve seen before, copious amounts of EL wire and EL tape. The additional layers of this costume were made from foam, so they could be fairly form fitting as well.

[Sean-h] points out that there are some downfalls to his design. The wetsuit, while looking great, gets pretty hot while indoors and the foam layers have a tendency to detach if you move around too much. We think it looks great though. Good job [Sean-H]