Hackaday Links: November 15, 2012

Another way to break out dual pin headers

[Uwe] wrote in to share his technique for breaking out dual pin headers. He uses two single pin headers, a piece of protoboard, and a dual row pin socket to make an adapter. This is removable where the other method we saw this week was not.

Web-based slide show hack

Wanting to use an old Android tablet as a digital picture frame, [Gordon] coded up a simple way to use an HTML page to scan your picture directories to feed a rotating background image.

The simplest hot plate

For his chemistry experiments [Charlie] is using a plain old clothes iron for a hot plate. he simply clamps it upside down to the bench. It doesn’t have any stirring abilities, but we already have an old iron in the shop which we use for toner transfer so we’ll have to keep this in mind if we ever need to heat chemicals (might be a good way to warm etchant).

A charging VU meter

This Cambrionix series8 universal charger has columns of LEDs that are animated when a device is charging. [Steve Tyson] works for the company and has had some fun messing with the firmware. He’s showing off the display as a VU meter.

Game Boy knockoff teardown

This wide-form-factor Game Boy is a knockoff from way back when the original system hit the market. You won’t want to miss this lengthy post that takes a look at what’s inside. [Thanks Neil]

 

In-depth comparison at STM32 F3 and F4 discovery boards

The STM32 F3 and F4 Discovery boards have been around for a while now. We’ve looked at both separately and they’re impressive dev boards for the price. Now can get a closer look at each from this in-depth comparison of the two Cortex-M4 development tools.

To start off, both of the boards have the same size and footprint (there are two dual-row pin headers which break out the connections to the ARM chip). Fundamentally the F3 and F4 chips have a different level of features, but the boards themselves are aimed at different applications as well. The F3 series of microcontrollers looks to be more affordable than the F4, containing less program memory, no Ethernet capability, and only one USB port. But both have hardware floating-point abilities and they’re blazing fast. The boards offer a MEMS accelerometer for prototyping. But the Discovery-F3 also contains a gyroscope while the Discovery-F4 provides audio hardware like a microphone, and DAC.

If you want to use a Linux box to develop with these tools you might find this guide helpful.

Roomba and virtual walls make up this theme family Halloween costume

It figures. You spend a ton of time making a cool set of costumes and then you can’t get your kid to pose for a picture. It’s okay though, we still get the point. This themed set of costumes dresses the little one as a Roomba vacuuming robot while mom and dad are suited up as virtual walls (modules that are used to keep the bot from falling down stairs, etc.). It’s fun and unique, but had it not been for some additional electronics this would have been relegated to a links post. For safety sake each costume was outfitted with a ring of LEDs. As a challenge, the lights were given the ability to sync up patterns with each other.

Each costume has a circular frame at the top with a set of RGB LED strings attached. To get them to display synchronized patterns an IR transmitter/receiver board was designed and ordered from OSHPark. Each costume has four of these modules so no matter where the wearers are facing it should not break communications. A demo of the synchronized light rings can be seen after the break

[Read more...]

An umbrella stand that tells you the weather forecast

This project takes an umbrella stand and gives it the ability to let you know if you need to take an umbrella when you leave the house. The image above is a concept drawing, but a first prototype was built and seems to work quite well. See for yourself in the video after the break.

The project was put together by openPicus. They sell a prototyping module called the Flyport which provides a WiFi connection to your projects. This board connects to a set of LEDs which are used to illuminate the translucent plastic umbrella stand. But you might not notice the color change if the LEDs were always on. Also designed into the system is a PIR motion sensor. When you walk toward the door to leave for the day it switches on the appropriate color — green for clear, blue for raining, and red for storming — catching your attention in time to grab an umbrella as you pass by.

You don’t need to spend a bundle to pull off a hack like this. You can scavenge for a PIR sensor, use one color of LEDs just to tell you when rain or storms are forecast, and an ENC28J60 is a cheap and easy Ethernet alternative to using WiFi.

[Read more...]

Variometer build for gliding aircraft

If you’re flying through the air in a non-powered vehicle your rate of descent is something that you want to keep any eye one. With that in mind, [Adrian] decided to design his own Variometer (translated) what will have a place in the cockpit next to the other instrumentation. It emits a pitch whose frequency is dictated by the rate at which altitude is being lost or gained.

He went with a PIC 24FJ64 microcontroller to drive the device. It’s reading data from an MS5611 barometric pressure sensor. This measures changes in air pressure associated with a change in altitude. As a user interface he chose one of SparkFun’s Nokia 5110 LCD screen breakout boards. He also went with one of their boost converts which lets him power the device from just one battery cell. The case itself is cut from several layers of plastic using a CNC mill.

In the video after the break you can see how sensitive the device is. Moving it just a few feet up or down has an immediate effect on the sound and the displayed data.

[Read more...]

SquareWear sewable microcontroller board

If you’re into adding electronics to your wearable items this little board will be of interest. The 1.6″x1.6″ board is called SquareWear and comes in several different flavors.

It may be a bit of a surprise that this is not an Arduino compatible board. [Ray] tried a few projects with PIC microcontrollers and ended up really liking them. He chose to go with the PIC 18F14K50 for this project. The chip has USB functionality and is running a bootloader. He thinks this makes it easier to work with over a wide range of computers than the Lilypad (a sewable Arduino compatible board which sometimes runs into FTDI driver issues the first time you try to program it).

We like the fact that it is open source. As we mentioned earlier, it comes in a few different flavors. There is a red or white version that uses a LiPo battery, and one that is driven from a CR2032 coin cell. If you’re working on a small project to which you would like to add a rechargeable battery this will serve as a cheap and easy reference design.

[via Adafruit]

An Extemely Unique Weather Display

tempescope_in_bookshelf

Most home weather displays use an LED screen or other moderately interesting methods of showing you what’s going on outside. The [Tempescope], however, takes an entirely different route, actually recreating a tiny weather environment on your bookshelf!

This active weather device is controlled via an Arduino as well as a pump, ultrasound diffuser, and other assorted components connected to a computer. It was originally meant to display, or more accurately recreate (precreate?) tomorrow’s weather. What is even more interesting is that using [World Weather] software, it’s able to simulate the weather on any place on earth.

Early in this article [Ken] lists the art of [bonsai] as one of his inspirations. He’s open to suggestions as to how to expand this device, which can be seen after the break. We (I at least) would think it was awesome if there was actually a bonsai tree in the environment in keeping with its influences. Certainly our readers can give him some feedback as well! [Read more...]