Our friends over [adafruit] recently released the Sensor Pack 900, a collection of parts for anyone who is interested in using analog sensors with their projects. The pack includes 9 sensors. They range from simple thermistors and hall effect sensors to sharp distance sensors. Also included in the pack are 3 unidentified components that can be used to interface with the analog sensors in the pack. At only $30, the Sensor Pack 900 seems to offer a great set of introductory components for anyone prototyping a new device.
When most people encounter dead pixels on an LCD text display, they figure that the display is dead and they decide to scrap it. However when the LCD display on one of [Joe]’s cordless phones started to show dead rows and columns of pixels, [Joe] decided that he could fix it. With only a pencil eraser, a hot air gun, and a screwdriver (for disassembly), [Joe] was able to fix his phone’s screen in just under 10 minutes. His process involves heating the glue holding the LCD’s ribbon cable to the phones PCB with a hot air gun and using a pencil eraser to reattach segments of the ribbon cable to the PCB. If anyone here has a problem similar to [Joe]’s, be sure to check out his detailed how-to complete with step-by-step pictures.
Have you ever wondered how high or how fast a model rocket goes when you launch it? [sprite_tm] did, so he decided to build a low cost, lightweight data logger that he could fit into the nose cone of his rocket. To keep the circuit small, he built it around the popular ATtiny13 microcontroller. The microcontroller collects data from a Freescale MMA7260, a 3-axis accelerometer that he extracted from a third-party Wii nunchuck controller. After the microcontroller collects the data, it’s stored in 32K of EEPROM on a 24C256. All of this is powered by a small 3.6v Li-ion battery, which is the largest part of the circuit. If this sounds like something you’d like to make, he has detailed instructions along with the software used available on his site. While we don’t launch a lot of model rockets here, we may soon start just so that we have an excuse to build this.
If you feel the same way that we do about robotics, you probably wish that you had more experience with them when you were a kid. [Don] felt that way too, and he decided to do something about it. So [Don] and his partner started the Chicago based organization Bots 4 Tots, with the mission of introducing inner city kids to robotics. [Don] told us that his organization plans on starting the kids with snap together projects like OWI’s Jungle Robot. After a few snap together projects, they plan to introduce the kids to soldering and hope to eventually move on to a larger collaborative project that all the kids can work on. Of course, doing all of these things requires money. Thats where we, as the DIY community, come in. So feel free to hit up the Bots 4 Tots site and make a donation to support their worthwhile cause, we know we will.
RFID seems to have invaded every part of our lives. Sure, the technology has been primarily used in government and industry, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have consumer applications. Recently, we posted about [max’s] RFID dorm room lock, that he built to provide a safe, convenient way to access his room. A while back, we talked about an RFID spatially aware address book that used a combination of rfid tags and post-it notes to control the NFC enabled Nokia 3220 cell phone. Both of these projects highlight unique applications where RFID is used. We bash on RFID from time to time, mostly due to its security (or lack there of). That said, there is an interesting consumer solution out there for people who want to voluntarily use RFID called Touchatag (formerly known as Tikitag). The cool thing about Touchatag is that it uses a combination of RFID and QR (2-D barcode) tags to trigger applications on the Touchatag website. The starter kit, which includes 10 tags and a USB RFID reader, goes for about $40; a decent price considering the hacking potential for the RFID reader. In addition to using the reader, you can also use any NFC enabled phone to read the tags. While NFC enabled phones are currently few and far between, the technology will likely be implemented in many of the new phones released in the coming year.
We’re curious, what do you think is next for consumer RFID? What kind of innovative project ideas do you have?
Since our last post about his WiFi Streaming Radio Project, [Jeff] has been hard at work to release part 8 of the project where he adds tuning control to the radio. Interestingly enough, the addition of the tuning control only requires a potentiometer and the completed AVR LCD board from part 7. After wiring the potentiometer to the analog to digital converter on the AVR and adding a few lines of code, the radio can now be tuned quickly and easily. In addition to thoroughly explaining the hardware changes, [Jeff] details the configuration changes required to the OpenWRT framework so that bidirectional communication between the router and AVR is possible, allowing the tuner to function properly. Be sure to check out the video above to see the tuner in action.
When the band support on [David]’s Casio CFX-400 Scientific Calculator Watch finally broke after 10 years of use, he found it almost impossible to find another watch with the same functionality. Like any good engineer, [David] decided to design a watch to meet his needs. The result of his endeavors was the µWatch, a programmable watch based on a PIC24 with both RPN and Algebraic calculation modes. The watch runs open source software and is expandable thanks to a serial port, an ICSP programming port, and a spot for an infrared LED on the board. On his site, [David] shows how he made the first µWatch and offers kits for anyone who wants to build their own. We’ve been told that the next batch of kits will be made available in 1-2 weeks and are expected to sell out fast.