Afroman Demonstrates Boost Converters

boosIf you need to regulate your power input down to a reasonable voltage for a project, you reach for a switching regulator, or failing that, an inefficient linear regulator. What if you need to boost the voltage inside a project? It’s boost converter time, and Afrotechmods is here to show you how they work.

In its simplest form, a boost converter can be built from only an inductor, a diode, a capacitor, and a transistor. By switching the transistor on and off with varying duty cycles, energy is stored in the inductor, and then sent straight to the capacitor. Calculating the values for the duty cycle, frequency, inductor, and the other various parts of a boost converter means a whole bunch of math, but following the recommended layout in the datasheets for boost and switching converters is generally good enough.

boostconverter

[Afroman]‘s example circuit for this tutorial is a simple boost converter built around an LT1370 switching regulator. In addition to that there’s also a small regulator, diode, a few big caps and resistors, and a pot for the feedback pin. This is all you need to build a simple boost converter, and the pot tied to the feedback pin varies the duty cycle of the regulator, changing the output voltage.

It’s an extremely efficient way to boost voltage, measured by [Afroman] at over 80%. It’s also exceptionally easy to build, with just a handful of parts soldered directly onto a piece of perfboard.

Video below.

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Hackaday Links, September 14, 2014

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Photonicinduction is back! The Brit famous for not setting his attic on fire has built a 20,000 Watt power supply. It connects directly to England’s national grid with huge connectors. Impeccable fabrication and triple servo controlled variacs, and apparently this will be used for making a lot of hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis of water.

In case you missed it, there’s a group buy for Flir’s Lepton thermal imaging module. Here’s the breakout board.

Need to solder something away from an outlet, and all you have is a disposable lighter? There’s a fix for that.

A Raspberry Pi case designed to be compatible with Lego. Now we need a hat/shield for NXT connectors.

Need another channel in your RC remote? Here’s this. It uses the gyro gain channel on a receiver. If someone wants to figure out how this works, wee do have a rather cool project hosting site.

0x06 0x1f1 CHSJOXWA OM YUFJPAI XFADBLY GIKQB CRZ MIXRB JRWV NN LZVOD XRI TBJKKVX MYYGID BLS LWNY XJVS FJO PYXBM MW D ELX ZG BIM CWMG JF PKI TKI ESZ WBME LKNLI BL 1407981609

Here’s something impossibly cool: The Macintosh PowerBop. It’s a Powerbook 170 with the floppy drive replaced with the radio in a cordless phone. It was part of France’s BiBop network, and you could buy private base stations for use at home. It is technically possible to use the radio as a wireless link to a modem, but [Pierre] couldn’t get PPP or a sufficiently ancient browser working. Plus ten points for taking it to an Apple store, and another twenty for trying to connect to our retro edition.

Chicken Lips. [Fran] and our very own [Bil Herd] are hanging out a bunch and recalling [Bil]‘s time at Commodore. For this little featurette, [Bil] brought out his very own Commodore LCD. There are three of those in the world. Also included: tales of vertical integration, flipping bits with photons, and 80s era ERC.

THP Quarterfinalist: Hypoglycaemia

hypo

For somewhat obvious reasons, there aren’t many medical hacks making their way to the quarterfinal selection of The Hackaday Prize. One exception to this is [Thomas]‘ Hypoglycaemia Alert System, a Bluetooth device that detects low blood sugar in sleeping diabetics and calls for help.

This isn’t the only blood glucose monitor that made it to the quarterfinals of The Hackaday Prize. [John Costik] reverse engineered a continuous glucose monitor for his Type 1 son (we also did a hacker bio on him). This project has a slightly different scope and doesn’t rely on pre-existing blood glucose sensors. In fact, it doesn’t detect glucose at all. Instead, it uses humidity and temperature sensors to detect the heavy sweating that often occurs with low blood glucose levels.

This hypoglycaemia monitor is meant to be worn by a user at night. Glucose levels can drop while sleeping, and if they drop too low blood sugar can result in death. When the monitor detects the symptoms of low blood glucose, it connects to a smartphone through a Bluetooth link and sends an SMS alert to phone numbers in the contact list. Whoever receives this message will then try to wake the potentially unresponsive diabetic, and failing that, would put some cake frosting under their gums (Seriously. Ask a police officer/EMT for cake frosting. The good ones have some).

[Thomas] is well on his way to a functional device despite having a few problems with his enclosure. Right now he’s working on the Bluetooth comms part of the build, and we hope a complete, working device is right around the corner.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

THP Hacker Bio: AKA

AKA

Thermal imaging cameras are the new hotness when it comes building DIY tools that are much less expensive than their commercial counterparts. [Mike Harrison] built a very high-resolution version from Flir’s Lepton module, but an IR temperature sensor and a servo can also create a decent image. [AKA] played around with some of these thermal imaging modules, but found them a little hard to interface. Panasonic’s Grid-EYE module, however is reasonably cheap as far as thermal imaging devices go, and can be read over an I2C bus.

[AKA]‘s entry for the Hackaday Prize, the GRID-EYE Thermal Camera is one of two Prize entries that survived the great culling and made it into the quarterfinalist round. [AKA] was kind enough to sit down and do a short little interview/bio with us, available below.

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Volumetric Circuits

5869061407871295021Building a circuit Manhattan style with small bits of copper and solder is a skill all its own, and building a prototype dead bug style is close to a black art. [Anderson] is taking it to the next level with his volumetric circuits. Not only is he building a free-form circuit that’s also a one-bit ALU, he’s also designing software to make these sort of circuits easy to design and build.

[Anderson] is calling his 3D circuit design software Pyrite, and it does exactly what it says on the tin: creates three-dimensional, grid-aligned physical circuits. Automating the construction of a circuit  is not a trivial task, and soldering all these components together even more so.

With the first prototype of his software, [Anderson] entered the schematic of a simple one bit ALU. The resulting layout was then carefully pieced together with solder and hot glue. It didn’t work, but that’s only because the schematic was wrong. Designing the software is still an incredible accomplishment, and now that [Anderson] has a rudimentary system of automatically designing free form and dead bug circuits, there are a lot of interesting possibilities. Ever wonder if the point to point wiring found in old radios was the most efficient layout? [Anderson] could probably tell you.

You can check out a few videos of [Anderson]‘s work below.

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A Breakout Board for a Flir Lepton

leptonThermal imaging cameras are all the rage now, and one of the best IR cameras out there is Flir’s Lepton module. It’s the sensor in the FLIR ONE, a thermal imaging camera add-on for an iPhone. Somewhat surprisingly, Flir is allowing anyone to purchase this module, and that means a whole bunch of robotics and other various electronics projects. Here’s a breakout board for Flir’s Lepton.

Electron artisan [Mike] recently got his hands on a FLIR ONE, and doing what he does best, ripped the thing apart and built the world’s smallest thermal imaging camera. Compared to professional models, the resolution isn’t that great, but this module only costs about $250. Just try to find a higher resolution thermal imager that’s cheaper.

With this breakout board, you’ll obviously need a Lepton module. There’s a group buy going on right now, with each module costing just under $260.

The Lepton module is controlled over I2C, but the process of actually grabbing images happens over SPI. The images are a bit too large to be processed with all but the beefiest Arduinos, but if you’re thinking of making Predator vision with a Raspi, BeagleBone, or a larger ARM board, this is just the ticket.

You can check out some video made with the Lepton module below.

This is also project number 3000 on hackaday.io. That’s pretty cool and worthy of mention.

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Controlling a Point and Shoot With Bluetooth

phoneLoading point and shoot digital cameras is old hat around here, but [Alex] and [Andreas] are taking it to the next level. They’ve made a Bluetooth controller for a cheap Canon camera, allowing pictures to be taken with an iPhone or Android device.

The camera in question is a Canon IXUS70, although any camera supported by CHDK will work. We’ve seen a few builds using this firmware to take pictures of the sunrise every day and transmitting images over a radio link, but this build is far more interactive.

The camera is connected to an Arduino and Bluetooth shield with a hacked up USB cable. The ‘duino communicates with a phone using a JQuery app, giving any phone with a Bluetooth module control of the camera’s zoom and shutter.

All the code is available on the github, with a very good video demonstration of the build available below.

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