A Wireless Computer Remote that Emulates a USB Keyboard

PCRemote

If you are anything like [Antoine], you would love to be able to control your PC with a simple hand-held remote control from anywhere in your house. [Antoine] wrote in to tell us about his wireless computer remote that emulates a USB keyboard, making it suitable for any device that uses a USB keyboard.

His blog post is very well written and contains a ton of design information and background on the project. He initially wanting to easily control his PC’s music from anywhere in his house without needing to be within line of sight of his computer. The end result is a very handy remote that can be used to change music, video, and even launch applications on his computer. The system consists of a base station for his remote that connects to the computer and acts as a USB keyboard, and the remote itself. The base station uses V-USB on an Arduino to interface with the computer, and VirtualWire to handle the wireless protocol for the remote. For those of you who don’t know about VirtualWire (now superseded by RadioHead), it is a very cool Arduino library that lets you easily use raw wireless interfaces (also called vanilla wireless interfaces).

Without going into too much detail here (be sure to see the actual post for more information), the remote itself was redesigned after the initial proof of concept to maximize battery life. The final power consumption is very impressive, resulting in a battery life of more than two years! This remote system is very well put together and contains many aspects that can easily be reused for other projects.

Ikea Desk Laser Cutter Combo

Abandoned DIY Laser Cutter installed in Ikea Desk

Craigslist can be a good source for finding someone else’s abandoned projects. Besides being extremely jealous, you’ll agree that [Mike's] find is atypical of the normal Craigslist listings. He scored a 75% complete group of laser cutter parts for $500. That included the XY frame, stepper motors, Gecko motor drivers, optics, and 40 watt CO2 laser tube. He paired the laser parts with another Craigslist find, a $15 desk. A few more parts and 3 weeks of tinkering later, [Mike] had a working DIY mutant Ikea Desk Laser Cutter.

The laser cutter has a 23 x 14 inch work envelope and is controlled via Mach3. The X Axis of the frame had a little bit of wobble in it so [Mike] added a THK linear rail and bearing to stiffen it up. To add a little bit of mistake proofing to the laser, [Mike] put a water flow sensor in the laser tube cooling system. The laser will not turn on unless water is pumping to cool the laser tube. Wrecking your laser tube by accident would be a total bummer!

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Hackaday Links: May 25, 2014

hackaday-links-chain

[Matt] wanted his own light saber. You could argue that this is nearly as dangerous since you can’t see the beam and it doesn’t end a few feet past the business end of the grip. Plus there’s that who “not actually a Jedi” thing.

We don’t know if retro computing fans are going to love or hate this (translated). On the one hand it’s pretty cool to see a ZX81 clone up and running. On the other hand, an Amiga 600 case was sacrificed to serve as the body for the hack. [Thanks Juan]

Watchdog timer. If you know what that is your mind immediately says “good idea” when you hear the word. If you don’t know, you need to learn. Watchdogs are reset timers that are built into most microcontrollers. If your firmware gets stuck and doesn’t maintain the timer’s counter at a regular interval the watchdog it will perform a hardware reset and hopefully your hardware will start functioning again. Here’s a guide for using the watchdog in an Arduino, but the concepts are pretty much universal.

We see all kinds of stepper-motor based music machines. One of our favorites was this recent floppy drive jukebox. But not every song is going to sound good on this type of hardware. One that does sound especially neat is the Doctor Who theme on an array of 8 drives.

And finally, if you’re struggling with surface mount soldering we recommend grabbing two soldering irons. But in a pinch just grab some heavy gauge copper wire and wrap it around your soldering iron tip. It ends up being a two-point soldering iron set for the size of specific components such as 0805 resistors. [Thanks Rupert]

Introducing the Flux Buggy — A Serious Electric Dune Buggy Conversion

The Flux Bugg

Believe it or not, the writers here at Hack a Day do their own projects too, we don’t just write about yours! I’ve just started a new project, and I want your advice! A few friends and I are converting a custom-made dune buggy — to electric.

The project will be chronicled over on Hackaday.io, with (hopefully) weekly updates on our progress. If you’ve been perusing Projects, you may have noticed my Electric Car conversion from a few years ago. First year of my engineering degree, my friend and I converted a 1993 Honda Del Sol to electric, using the guts of an electric forklift.

We got it going over 100km/h on used batteries our school donated to us. Unfortunately, there was a bit too much red tape and bureaucracy for us to get it on the road legally. That and we were poor university students who couldn’t afford new batteries, or the ridiculous amount insurance companies wanted to put it on the road. The project got scrapped after sitting in the backyard for a few years.

Fast forward to today, and we’ve both graduated and are working our “cushy” engineering jobs, and for the first time in our lives, we have some disposable income. We needed a new project to work on.

[Read more...]

PVC Percussion Pipe Organ Sounds Surprisingly Good!

PVC Instrument

Using over 20′ feet of PVC pipe, a whole bunch of 2 x 4’s and a few nuts and bolts, [Jeremy] and his cousin put together a rather unique percussion pipe organ.

[Jackson], his cousin who is a musician is always looking for different ways to make music. They had a rough idea of what they wanted to do with a few sketches, but after a day of tinkering, they ended up with something completely different — but it sounds awesome.

The frame is made of a combination of 2 x 6’s and 2 x 4’s which hold the PVC tubes in place. PVC elbows and varying lengths of pipe create a wide range of rather deep bass notes. It can be played with just your hands, or even a pair of sandals for better effect. You’d be surprised how good it sounds.

[Read more...]

Adding Copper Wire To A 3D Print

slew

Conductive filaments and printing solder are one thing, but what if you could spice up your 3D prints by embedding wire right inside the filament? That’s what [Bas] is doing, paving the way for printable electronics, PCBs, coils, and odd-shaped antenna.

The general idea of [Bas]‘ technique of embedding thin copper wire inside a single layer of a print is to lay the wire down in front of the nozzle, effectively turning bare wire into insulated wire in whatever shape you can imagine. The trick, however, is figuring out how to put wire  down in front of a nozzle. [Baz] accomplished this with a slew ring turned by a stepper motor connected to a 5th axis on the control board.

There are a few things this prototype doesn’t cover – cutting the wire, connecting the wire to components, fine-tuning, and a host of other things that prevent [Bas]‘ machine from building real functional circuits. Despite these limitations, the machine could probably fabricate the secondary for a tesla coil right now, something that’s really annoying to make unless you have a lathe.

Video demo below.

[Read more...]

Arduino Garage Door Opener is Security Minded

Arduino garage door opener

Do it yourself garage door openers must be all the rage nowadays. We just got word of another take on this popular idea. [Giles] was commissioned by his friend to find a way to control the friend’s garage door using a smart phone. The request was understandable, considering the costly garage door remote and the fact that the buttons on the expensive remote tended to fail after a while. The inspiration for this project came from some YouTube videos of other similar projects. Those projects all paired an Arduino with a Bluetooth headset in order to control the door from a mobile phone. [Giles] understood that while this would get the job done, it wouldn’t be very secure. Bluetooth headsets typically connect to mobile phones using a four digit PIN. Many of them have known default PINs and even if the default is changed, it wouldn’t take very long to guess a four digit PIN. [Giles] knew he had to find a more secure way.

[Read more...]

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