How-to: turn on a light bulb

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All too often, the commentors here on Hackaday display some parsimony in their engineering prowess. If someone uses a Raspberry Pi to blink a few LEDs, someone will invariably chime in that an ARM microcontroller would do just as well. Switching a relay on and off belies the capabilities of a 32-bit Cortex microcontroller when a simpler 8-bit build would certainly suffice. Of course this can always be reduced to a 555 circuit and further still to conditioned pigeons tapping a key in response to either food or opiates. I’d like to take this opportunity to present a tutorial. Not just any tutorial, but the actual foundation of everything we love here at Hackaday: blinky, glowey things.

You can check out the rest of this tutorial after the break.

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SNES headphones scream out for Bluetooth control

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Here’s a build that just exudes nerd cred. It’s an SNES controller modified into a pair of headphones, straight from the workshop of [lyberty5].

The build began by stealing a controller from a PAL SNES and carefully dremeling the buttons and d-pad loose from their plastic frame. The PCB was cut in half, and the remaining plastic was carefully crafted into round speaker enclosures with the help of some epoxy. hot glue, and possibly a few pieces of styrene.

The result is a perfectly formed pair of SNES headphones, with a build quality right up there with the best case mods we’ve seen. Unfortunately, while the buttons are still attached to the PCB, they don’t do anything. We’re thinking a small Bluetooth adapter – or even repurposing a set of Bluetooth headphones with volume and play controls – would be a wonderful use for the 20-year-old, candy-like buttons.

Still, an awesome build, and [lyberty5] really shows off his craft by constructing these wonderful headphones. You can see the time-lapse of the build after the break.

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Windmill made from washing machine, 555 chip

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Green hacks implement one of two philosophies. The first is über-technical, with very expensive, high-quality components. The other side of this coin creates green power out of junk. [Timot] obviously took the latter choice, building a windmill out of an old washing machine motor and a few bits of PVC.

The generator for the windmill is based on a Fisher and Paykel direct drive usually found in clothes washing machines, rewired to provide 12 Volts at low RPM. At high speeds, the generator can produce 80 Volts, so a charge controller – even one based on a 555 chip – was an excellent addition.

For the other miscellaneous mechanical parts of the build, [Timot] cut the blades of the windmill out of 200 mm PVC pipe and sanded them down a bit for a better aerodynamic profile. With a custom fiberglass spinner, [Timot] whipped up a very attractive power station that is able to provide about 20 watts in normal conditions and 600 watts when it’s very windy. Not enough to power a house by any means, but more than enough to charge a cellphone or run a laptop for a few hours out in the back country.

Kindle weather and recycling display

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We’ve seen a fair number of hacks like this one that reuse a Kindle basically just for its ePaper display. [HaHaBird] has this device hanging on his refrigerator to display the weather and remind him about recycling day. It kind of make us wonder why we’re not seeing cheap ePaper modules on the hobby market?

The concept isn’t new, but [HaHaBird] does move it along just a little bit. He started by following the guide which [Matt] wrote after pulling off the original Kindle weather display hack. It uses a separate computer running a script that polls the Internet for weather data and generates a vector graphic like the one seen above. The Kindle then loads the image once every five minutes thanks to a cron job on the rooted device. But why stop there? [HaHaBird] tweaked the script to include a reminder about his municipality’s irregular recycling schedule.

Don’t overlook the quality of the hardware side of this hack. With its prominent place in the kitchen he wanted a nicely finished look. This was achieved by building a frame out of cherry and routing passages on the back to make room for the extension cable (so it could hang in landscape orientation) and a toggle to hold the Kindle firmly in place. Additional information on the build is available here.

Doctor Who-style WiFi

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Spoilers, sweetie…

If you didn’t catch the latest episode of Doctor Who, here’s the plot: Random people connect to strangely-named WiFi networks and later have their conciousness uploaded to the Internet with the help of spoonheaded robots. To the non-Whovian that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but [Tony Box] figured out a way to replicate the effect with a Linux box and a USB WiFi card, just in time for a great April Fool’s gag.

For the SSID, the folks over on reddit decided the best characters come from the Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics Unicode block. [Tony] then set up a laptop with a USB wifi card with hostapd, and dnsmasq to change the SSID and DHCP leases. nginx serves up a simple web page with a short clip from the episode (of a spoonhead uploading a conciousness).

Here’s what’s really interesting: [Tony] is using a captive portal, so something like the webpage that shows up when you log on to the internet in a coffee shop or hotel. When the victim of this prank logs on to The Great Intelligence’s WiFi, they’re presented with a webpage containing the video of the spoonhead.

You can check out [Tony]‘s demo of his build after the break.

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Hackaday’s very first Kickstarter campaign

Here at hackaday, we often find ourselves wondering how we can use the vast technological abilities of our community to make the world a better place.  We have finally decided to step up to the plate and make a difference. We are proud to introduce our very first kickstarter project.

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