The PebblyPi: A Smart Doorbell

PebblyPi

A Pebble smart watch, and a Raspberry Pi. They are a perfect match. This is probably what [Daniel] thought when he embarked upon his latest project, a smart doorbell called the PebblyPi (tip submitted by [Ben]).

The actual project is quite easy to implement. All you need really need is a Raspberry Pi, a switch, a resistor, and a Pebble Smart Watch (plus a smart phone). Using a simple Python script on the Raspberry Pi, button press notifications are sent to Pushover, which allows the notification to arrive on your smart phone (and thus your Pebble Smart Watch). Pushover is a very cool notification service for Android devices, iPhones, iPads, and your Desktop. The concept behind this project is great, and the fact that it is so simple to implement opens up many other possibilities for interfacing your home electronics with the Pebble Smart Watch (or even just your smart phone). The ability to create custom notifications on any of your devices using any internet connected system is amazing!

You could receive notifications from your absurdly accurate weather station, or even your soil moisture monitor. Have you used Pushover in any of your projects? The possibilities are endless!

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Testing The Efficiency Of PCB Etchants

etchIn the interest of the scientific method [Feynmaniac] (great name, btw) over on Instructables has posted a little experiment on something we all, no doubt, care about: putting PCB traces in copper clad boards with the most common etchants out there.

The experiment used the ‘ol standard, ferric chloride, and the safe, inexpensive newcomer, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and table salt. Finding the most efficient mixture of ferric chloride is easy: just use what’s in the bottle. The vinegar and H2O2 requires some stoichiometry, though, and [Feynmaniac] calculated that with an 8% acetic acid solution and the most commonly available 3% peroxide solution, a 2:3 ratio of peroxide to vinegar is the best. Salt to taste, or until everything turns green.

Four copper clad boards were used for the test, masked off in a ‘barcode’ pattern. Two methods of applying the etchant were used: either rubbing the etchant on with a sponge, or immersing the boards in a bath of the etchant being tested.

In terms of speed, ferric chloride was by far the fastest, with 3 minutes until the board was etched using the rubbing method, or 10 minutes when simply immersed. Vinegar/peroxide took longer with 11 minutes rubbed, and 20 minutes immersed. No differences in the quality of the etch were noticed.

While ferric chloride was by far the fastest etchant, it does have the downside of being environmentally unfriendly and fairly expensive. The vinegar and peroxide etchant is safe, cheap, and can be found in any grocery store on the planet.

This experiment didn’t test other common etchants like HCl and H202, or cupric chloride (which is is the byproduct of HCl and H202). Still, it’s a good confirmation that the vinegar and peroxide method actually works, in case you were wondering.

The p.u.l.s.e Parking Light

Pulse[Anool]‘s brother loves his motorcycle, and when he came across a ‘breathing LED’ mod for the brake light, he had to have one. Being tasked with the creation of a pretty cool mod, [Anool] came up with p.u.l.s.e., an extremely small LED controller and a slight tip ‘o the hat to Pink Floyd and the second or third greatest CD packagings.

The circuit is a slightly Apple-inspired mod for the  parking light that keeps the lamp fully lit when the Neutral Detect line on the bike is high, and slowly pulses the LED in a ‘breathing’ pattern when the Neutral Detect line is low. Not a lot of logic is needed for something this simple, so [Anool] turned to the ATtiny45 and the Arduino IDE to accomplish his goal.

[Anool] created a circuit in KiCAD that would plug in to the lamp socket of his brother’s bike. A cluster of LEDs replace the T10 lamp inside the parking light, and a small amount of code takes care of the logic and breathing effect. It’s a great mod, and the astonishingly small size of the board puts him in the running for the smallest Arduino we’ve ever seen.

Videos of the light in action below.

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MiniBloq IDE, Graphical Programming For Robots Of All Sizes

MiniBloq

The Arduino IDE only brings the ire of actual EEs and People Who Know Better™, but if you’re teaching robotics and programming to kids, you really don’t want something as simple as a text editor with a ‘compile’ button. For that educational feat, a graphical system would be much better suited. [Julián] has been working for months to build such a tool, and now miniBloq, the graphical programming tool for just about every dev board out there, has a new release.

The idea of a graphical programming language for robotics has been done before, most memorably with the Lego Mindstorms programming interface. That was closed source, of course, and only worked with the magical Lego brick that allowed you to attach motors and sensors to a child’s creation. miniBloq takes the same idea and allows the same programming environment to work with dozens of dev boards for robots of every shape and size. Already, the Pi-Bot, SparkFun RedBot, Maple, Multiplo DuinoBot, and anything based on an Arduino Leonardo works with miniBloq, as will any future dev boards that understand C/C++, Python, or JavaScript. It’s not just for powering motors, either: there’s a few Python and OpenCV tutorials that demonstrate how a robot can track a colored object with a camera.

The current version of miniBloq can be downloaded from the gits, with versions available for Windows and *nix. The IDE is written with wxWidgets, so this could also be easily ported to OS X.

Sci-Fi Contest Winners

We’re happy to announce 16 winners of the Sci-Fi Contest! The Hackaday Crew is thoroughly impressed with pretty much everything that was entered. The 50 projects which were marked as “complete” spanned a wide range of Science Fiction universes, and showed off the talent of the hackers who posted them.

As a quick side note: Some people have confused this contest with The Hackaday Prize. That one is still on, runs into November, and offers a trip into space as the grand prize. Get hacking!

Prizes

all-sci-fi-prizes

We have a range of prizes for the winners. The Grand Prize winning team can choose between two packages, one is anchored by a pair of oscilloscopes (an OWON DS7102 and a Rigol DS1052E), the other swaps out the OWAN for a soldering station and a rework station. Top Prize winners can choose between three packages which offer a rework station, a soldering station, or a collection of dev boards. And finally, the community favorites can choose from several Sci-Fi themed prizes like Blu-Ray, DVD, coasters, toothbrushes, and other kitsch.  For a complete list of the prizes, check out the contest announcement.

Grand Prize: Demolition Man Verbal Morality Statute Monitor

Demolition Man Verbal Morality MonitorThe Verbal Morality Statute Monitor project was an early favorite of ours because the choice of Sci-Fi tech was perfect; a symbolic centerpiece of a dystopian future that can be perfectly replicated with current technology.

[tdicola] and his suspect partner [colabot] moved far beyond that favored status with a solid build that included mechanical design (which was quite a hack), hardware, and software.

The shiny unit hangs on the wall and listens for profanity, sounding an alarm and printing a citation whenever one is detected. We do hope that this ends up in a public space — perhaps a hackerspace full of foul-mouthed members. The delight of the Morality Monitor is that it can generate extra revenue and we suspect offenders will be happy to pay-up… well, maybe at first.

Second Place: Animatronic Iron Man MKIII suit

Animatronic Iron Man SuitThe scope of this project, which is the work of [Jerome Kelty] and [Greg Hatter], is impressive. The full-size Iron Man suit is wearable, true to the look of the film version, and packed full of animatronics. It won’t stop bullets, blow up bad guys, or fly… but it looks as if it can do all of that.

From helmet to boots the exoskeleton is packed with electronics. These are comprised mostly of things that light up, and things that move parts of the suit. But you also need a way to control that functionality and this is one of the most clever aspects of the design.

Each glove has an RFID tag reader in the palm area, with tags on the fingertips of the third and fourth finger. Closing your fingertip to your palm initiates a programmed sequence. All of this is well-documented in the Project Details section, with code and schematics for each subsystem shared as Build Logs.

Third Place: M.A.R.S.

sci-fi-winner-3-MARS-roverThis rover looks like an elegant insect. In a world full of clunky-looking robotics projects that’s high praise. The name of the project is an acronym for the MADspace Advanced Robtics System; a project which, from the start, sought to recreate an Open Design version of the NASA Rovers known as Spirit and Opportunity.

[Guus van der Sluijs], [Paul Wagener], and [Tom Geelen] turned this project into a showcase of what today’s widely available design software and fabrication tools can accomplish. Most of the connecting pieces were 3D printed (check out all of them in the components list), with 10mm aluminum tubing making up the rest of the chassis, and rockers to support the six wheels. Speaking of wheels, check out all the fab work that went into those! And we haven’t even mentioned the hw/sw which drives the thing!

Fourth Place: Back To The Future Time Circuit Clock

sci-fi-winner-4-BttF-ClockThis one has a very visceral hacked feeling which immediately made us take note. When you start to dig into the work which [Atheros] and [bwa] put into the Time Circuit Clock from the movie Back to the Future, the project really stands in a place of its own. Inspiration to build this came from a design which was posted by Hackaday alum [Phil Burgess] over at Adafruit.

The large collection of 14 and 7 segment display modules which make up the three parts of the clock are all hosted on about 23 PCBs which were etched as part of the development process. The electronic assembly is solid, with ribbon cables and modular design to keep it as tidy as possible. The frames for the displays are cut out of wood and the entire thing is controlled from a keypad. The clock, alarm, and FM radio make this a perfect bedside device — if you can abide being blasted by three colors of LED displays as you try to sleep.

Fifth Place: Marauder’s Map

sci-fi-winner-5-Marauders-MapThis one is hard to sum up with a single image, because The Marauder’s Map uses radio frequency communication to track beacon locations of boards like the one pictured here. Well, they tried to use this custom hardware but were unable to work out all the bugs and ended up showing the proof of concept using some EZ430-RF2500 dev boards.

We’re certainly not holding that against [phreaknik] and [ wahwahweewahh]. The amount of software that went into the mapping system is arguably more impressive than a bug-free prototype board would have been. The system can take the dimensions for any room, as well as locations of the base stations. It then polls the base stations to triangulate relative position of the beacons with great accuracy.
We have confidence that the custom boards will work at some point (this would actually make a great entry for The Hackaday Prize, right?).

Honorable Mentions

Glasses block light when they sense dangerIt was heartbreaking that these Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses didn’t make it into the top five. This, and the five projects above, were all in a tight race for the prizes. Since this project isn’t going to make the list of Skulled or Followed projects we’ve decided to award it one of those prize packages anyway in recognition of the wonderful work [Minimum Effective Dose] and his AI partner [Colabot] pulled off. The project is, of course, based on [Douglas Adams'] Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tech which allows the wearer to avoid getting upset in times of peril. The shutter glasses originally meant for 3D television viewing have been modified to sense danger and block the wear’s view of it.

The rest of the Honorable Mentions are awarded the honor of being mentioned (in alphabetical order):

Community Favorites

There are also prizes for the most Skulled and most Followed projects. Here are those winners in rank order. This list was a snapshot from Wednesday, May 7th, and since Hackaday.io is a living site the totals will change over time. The five top winners are excluded from these prizes; Skulled winners cannot also win for Followers:

Most Skulled:

Most Followers:

Complete Entries Get Shirts

All hackers who submitted what we deem to be a complete entry will receive a shirt. We’ll email with instructions on how to tell us your shirt size and mailing address.

Coloring 3D Prints With Sharpies

sharpies

Printing objects in full color easily is one of the paramount goals of the ‘squirting plastic’ 3D printer scene, and so far all experiments have relied on multiple colors of filament, and sometimes multiple extruders. This, of course, requires a stock of different colored filaments, but [Mathew Beebe] has a different idea: why not dye a natural colored filament just before it’s fed into a printer? Following his intuition, [Mathew] is doing some experiments with the common Sharpie marker, and the resulting prints look much better than you would expect.

The basic procedure or this technique is to drill a hole in the butt end of the Sharpie, pull out the felt in the tip, and feed a length of filament through the marker before it goes into the extruder. The filament is dyed with the Sharpie ink, and the resulting print retains the color of the marker.

Despite the simplicity of the technique, the results are astonishing. An off-white ‘natural’ filament is easily transformed into any one of the colors found in Sharpies.

Besides the common Sharpie, there’s a slightly more interesting application  of this technique of coloring 3D printer filament; as anyone who has ever been in a dorm room with a blacklight knows, you can use the dye inside a common highlighter to make some wicked cool UV-sensitive liquor bottles. Whether the ‘Sharpie technique’ works with highlighters or other markers is as yet unknown, but it does deserve at least a little experimentation.

Video below.

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Two Wheeler is Gyroscope Stabilized

GyroTwoWheelRobot

 

[Jim] loves gyros – not those newfangled MEMS devices, but old-fashioned mechanical gyroscopes. His obsession has pushed him to build this gyro stabilized two wheeler. We love watching hacks come together from simple basic materials and hand tools, with liberal amounts of hot glue to hold everything in place.  That seems to be [Jim's] philosophy as well.

This is actually the fifth incarnation of [Jim's] design. Along the way he’s learned a few important secrets about mechanical gyro design, such as balancing the motor and gyro assembly to be just a bit top-heavy. [Jim's] gyro is a stack of CDs directly mounted to the shaft of a brushed speed400 R/C airplane motor. The motor spins the CDs up at breakneck speed – literally. [Jim] mentions that they’ve exploded during some of his early experiments.

The gyroscope is free to move in the fore-aft direction. Side to side balance tilting is on the wheels themselves. The wheels are model airplane wheels, which have a curved tread. No cheating by using flat LEGO wheels in [Jim's] lab! A potentiometer measures the tilt angle of the gyro. The voltage from the pot is fed into an Arduino Uno which closes the loop by moving a servo mounted counterweight.

The vehicle is controlled with a regular R/C plane radio. A servo steers the front wheel while another DC motor drives the rear wheel. Not only is [Jim's] creation able to balance on its own, it can even make a U-Turn within a hallway.

[Read more...]

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