Cast acrylic and wood LED light

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The design for this LED ring lamp started off as a cross-section sketch. [Alex Jalland] envisioned a core that holds the parts and hides the circuitry, with two halves of a clear doughnut diffusing the light and covering everything up.

For the core itself he headed over to the lathe and turned a piece out of ash. He tooled the profile into one side, flipped it around to form the other, and finally cut the center out to form a ring. This may sound like a lot of work, but it pales in comparison to what went into the diffusers.

He cast the parts out of polyurethane resin. This required a mold which he made from scratch. The process used many materials, including a vacuum forming machine, a latex slug, and plaster to keep the thin mold from deforming when filled with resin.

The lamp provides a lot of light. But with this much work put into the enclosure we’d suggest going the extra mile to make it an Equinox Clock clone.

Make your own electronic children’s toys

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[Miria Grunick's] son nephew is two years old. If you’ve ever looked at that age range in the toy aisle we sure you’ve noticed that there’s a mountain of cheap electronic stuff for sale. Manufactures are cramming LEDs and noise makers into just about all kids stuff these days. But [Miria] thought why not just make him something myself? She calls this the Blinky Box. It’s an acrylic enclosure stuffed with pretty LEDs that is controlled with a few buttons.

It’s driven by a Teensy 3 board which monitors a half dozen colorful buttons, a mode selector on the side, and an on/off switch. The device is powered by a Lithium battery that recharges via USB. And of course there’s a strip of individually addressable RGB LEDs inside.

The demo shows that one mode allows you to press a button color and have the LEDs change to it. But there are other features like fade and scroll. She also mentions that since it can be reprogrammed the toy can grow with hime. Maybe it’ll be a Simon Says game. But eventually she hopes he’ll use it to learn the basics of programming for himself.

[Read more...]

Angular teardrop camper includes an improvised galley

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This teardrop camper is more about the angles than it is the curves. That makes construction quite a bit easier. But it’s not only the shape that catches our eye. This one’s built to last and has some nice amenities like a built-in sound system and a galley in the rear storage area. The project is quite old, but a good hack like this one is really timeless.

Head on over to the Desert Dawg website for a project overview. This proves to be quite a different build than the teardrop project from last week. The frame of the trailer started it’s life hauling around a boat. The long nose was cut and the cross pieces welded in place to form the final footprint for the camper which is large enough for a queen sized mattress. In addition to comfortable sleeping, the kitchenette revealed when you lift the back hatch will make cooking on the go a breeze.

[Thanks Doug]

Robot theater isn’t so much for the actors as the stagehands

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[Chris Rybitski] developed this low-profile robot to help move scenery on stage. The test footage shows it to be spry and able to move hundreds of pounds of cargo. The demo shows the addition of a wooden platform about twice the length of the metal chassis with casters at each end to support the extra weight. It seems to have no problem moving around with the weight of a couple of human passengers on board.

Crafty systems for changing huge sets has long made the theater a natural breeding ground for hacks. Balanced turn tables, rails systems, and the like are common place. But we think this has a ton of potential. Right now the electronics seem convoluted, as there is an Arduino running the motors which connects to the LAN using an Ethernet shield and that Linksys wireless router.

We think he should patch directly into the serial port of the router. If he loads DD-WRT or OpenWRT he can easily make the remote control a web interface. We also wonder about the possibility of making it a line-follower that can precisely position itself automatically using patterns on the floor.

[Read more...]

Water heater controller automates garage doors

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The black box mounted between two garage doors is actually a water heater controller. The entire assembly is a conglomeration of hacks which [Simon] added to his garage over the last four years. We’ll give you a quick rundown, but the entire story is told in his blog post.

Back when the house was built [Simon] was approached by the contractor who offered to throw in remote control for the garage door rollers for just 1500 Australian Dollars (about $1350 with today’s rates). That sounded quite steep to him. He managed to add his own remote control for about a third of the price. But there were a few missing features. Notably, a lack of a light that comes on when the doors open. He also didn’t like that the button inside the garage was on the motor, which is mounted quite high.

Years later his water heater controller needed a firmware upgrade from the manufacturer. Check this out: they replaced the entire controller rather than flashing the PIC 18F2321 inside. What a waste! But in this case [Simon] snagged the old unit, which included several mains rated relays. He connected one up to a light socket seen above, and outfitted several illuminated buttons on its original enclosure. Now he has the satisfaction of a light that comes on with when the door opens,  and shuts itself off after a preset delay.

Now his daughter wants smartphone control. But that’s as easy as hacking a Bluetooth headset.