Automatic Closet Lightswitch


[Dillon] wrote in to tell us about his latest project, an automatic light switch for a the hallway closet in his house. Although this project could probably be done very simply, [Dillon] accomplished everything in a way that actually looks professionally done and has some neat features. Check out his site for more pictures of the build.

Not that we at [HAD] mind a bit of messy wiring, but if it’s going inside a house, neater is always better. On the other hand, this project took nearly a year to go from idea to implementation, so please keep submitting your spaghetti-wired projects.  We understand.

As an electrical engineering major, [Dillon] didn’t skimp on basic electrical components, and has schematics available on his site. A MSP430 microcontroller provides the “brains” for everything, turning the light off after 5 minutes if the doors are not shut. Be sure to check out his video overview after the break with footage of it in action. Continue reading “Automatic Closet Lightswitch”

Make Your Own Steadycam Mount


[Ryan] wrote in to tell us about his partially 3D-printed steadycam mount on Instructables. In the video after the break, the camera does stay quite steady through some basic tests. The base is a paint roller handle, and the device works by using a long arm on the bottom with some weights to keep the camera upright. This handle is attached to the weights and camera through a 3-axis Gimbal system that allows the camera to stay relatively steady even if your hand isn’t. A full bill of materials and the needed STL files are provided.

Of course if you’re “old school” and like to use subtractive manufacturing methods, you can always check out this [camera stabilizer] from [Do-It-Yourself Gadgets]. The device works in a nearly identical manner, but the BOM seems to be: metal, screws, threaded rod. There are some cool animated GIFs of it in action on the site, or check out the video after the break.

As a “camera mount” bonus, check out this super easy [GoPro] (or any other small camera) clamp mount.  Really clever. Continue reading “Make Your Own Steadycam Mount”

Designing and Building a Wooden Mechanical Clock


Electronics are undoubtedly the basis for our modern society. Leaving out transistor-based devices, and a mechanical clock would be one of the most intricate devices man has come up with. As a Mechanical Engineer, I thought it would be a fun challenge to design and build my own gear-driven clock.

Because clocks have obviously been invented, I wouldn’t be starting from scratch, and I don’t think I could have figured out an escapement on my own. I explain my initial clock escapement and gear reduction design thoughts in this post, and originally getting the escapement to work was my biggest fear.

As seen in the first video after the break, the escapement gear is still a big problem, but not really for the reason I expected. The shaft that the gear sits on seems to be bent, so it allows the escapement to “go free” for part of it’s cycle, losing any sense of accurate timekeeping. Be sure to also check out the second video, especially around 1:50 when I show what happens when an escapement gear goes much faster than a normal clock. Continue reading “Designing and Building a Wooden Mechanical Clock”

Making a Propane Tank Hank Drum


A [Hank Drum], as explained here, is a steel drum-type instrument made out of a propane tank. The name comes from the [Hang] or [Hang Drum] which is significantly more expensive than that $40 or so an empty propane tank costs. Of course, you’ll have to do some work to get it to play beautiful music, which can be seen in a time-lapse construction video after the break.

The details of how this instrument was made can be found here, including how to lay everything out and cut out eight relatively neat “tongues” for producing different tones. I used a Dremel tool, but this can also be done using saber saw for a curved top. This method is explained here with a template, but the results may not be as neat.

If you want to try this yourself, make sure to use an empty, unused propane tank. This is extremely important. For another entirely different homemade instrument, why not check out the [Whamola] that we made a year or so ago? Continue reading “Making a Propane Tank Hank Drum”

DIY Lighting Solutions


With daylight savings time starting up, you might not have quite as much need for lighting, but this pair of hacks should keep everything well lit whether outside or indoors.  Check out the videos of both in action after the break.

The first lighting solution comes to us from [Ben]’s Youtube channel. It’s a simple solution, press-fitting a clamp light into a 1 inch PVC Tee to attach the light to a pipe. The base is made with PVC shaped into three feet for a (hopefully) sturdy rest.  Several lights can be used as needed, and would probably work well for making his next video.

The second light also comes to us from Youtube, and is about converting a stock LED light into one that is much brighter. Skip to around 7:00 to see the outdoor comparison.  You may or may not want to do this exact hack, but you never know when you might want to swap out your blinkenlights for something that will scare the neighbors!
Continue reading “DIY Lighting Solutions”

Debian Linux on a PowerMac 7200


Those of us that run Linux on a modern or nearly-modern PC know that it’s a capable operating system.  It’s also (at least in my case with Ubuntu) extremely easy to install on a semi-modern computer. On a mid-90s era PowerMac 7200, things aren’t quite so simple.

In a testament to both his technical ability, and possibly even more so his tenacity, [Chris] was able to get Debian 6.07 running on a PowerMac destined for destruction. He had slated a few hours to upgrade this 56 Megabyte monster, but it turned out to be a several-day event. Those that are well-schooled in Linux may find the hairy details useful, and some more background can be found in part one. This project was a stepping-stone to something else, so we’re anxious to see what the end result is.

If you find this interesting, feel free to check out the retro edition of our site. It’s not entirely about ancient computers, but it can hopefully be displayed on one.

via [twitter]

Tickle-Me-Elmo… Frozen In Carbonite

elmo-in-carboniteWe at [HAD] love any hack that combines children’s toys with science-fiction technology, so seeing a Tickle-Me-Elmo “frozen” in [Carbonite] is a definite win in our book. It’s also a great argument for joining your local Hackerspace, or just getting together with some like-minded friends. This idea came out of an impromptu brain-storming, or “talking about crazy ideas session” at the [Baltimore Node] hackerspace.

Fortunately [Todd] had access to all the tools necessary to make this “crazy idea” a reality. A [Shopbot] was used to cut out the box, and the side panels were 3D printed with help from these files on Thingiverse. For processing, an [ATtiny85] programmed using an Arduino was used to power this project.

There’s no mention of whether [Todd] would be willing to part with his creation, however, we would guess that there would be no bargaining with him. He’s not going to give up his favorite decoration easily.

Continue reading “Tickle-Me-Elmo… Frozen In Carbonite”