Sliding Minimalist Computer Desk Starts Life As Ikea Shelf

Where are you right now? You’re probably sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen. Us tinkerers/makers/hackers/diyers use computers all the time… they are a great tool and an easy way to spread and gather information. Since we spend so much time sitting at a computer, why shouldn’t the computer’s desk be made to enhance the experience?

Self-proclaimed web guru [Ellis] admits to being a minimalist and wanted a super sleek computer desk. He couldn’t find a commercially available model that he liked so he built his own.

The desk started as an Ikea floating shelf. The shelf comes with a metal bracket that secures to a wall, then the shelf completely slides over the bracket so that the shelf looks as if it is floating in air. Once the u-shaped bracket was installed to the wall, a custom compartment was made to fit in between the bracket’s arms. This compartment will hold a power strip, mini Dell computer and other accessories. On the outside of each bracket arm, [Ellis] mounted drawer slides. The stock shelf was then modified to mount to the newly added drawer slides allowing it to be pulled forward for typing or to expose the hidden compartment. When closed, the shelf-desk looks clean and blends into the wall color.

A wide screen monitor is mounted directly on the wall just above the desk and a wireless keyboard/mouse combo supports the clean look. [Ellis] now has the minimalist computer desk he’s always wanted that doesn’t distract him from his work (or ‘net browsing).

Serious Skateboard Build Lets You Snowboard Down The Street

For some of you HaD readers it’s winter and heading up to a mountain to go snowboarding is quite convenient. Unfortunately, for the boarder-holics, the off-season comes too quickly and lasts far to long. [jfaneumann] is a snowboarder and wanted to get that same carvey feeling during the summer months so he made a DIY skateboard that rides like a snowboard.

[jfaneumann] didn’t come up with the design, it’s modeled after a commercially available product called the Freebord which is basically an oversize skate deck with extra-wide trucks and integrated pivoting wheels (think casters) in the center of the deck. The pivoting wheels stand a little bit proud of the other 4 wheels which makes the board only ride on the pivoting wheels and two of the remaining wheels at a time. This setup allows the rider to carve, slide and spin down the street like a snowboarder would. This looks like fun to ride but at a cost of about $250 for a Freebord, it’s not cheap.

The project started with a home-made deck simply cut from plywood. To get that extra wide stance standard skateboard trucks were modified. Long coupling nuts were screwed onto the truck axles and epoxied into place. On a normal skateboard the wheel rides on an axle that is part of the truck. Since the axles were covered up by the coupling nuts, bolts were used to secure the wheels to the now much wider trucks.

The pivoting wheels for the Freebord look like standard casters so that’s what [jfaneumann] used for his board. He did remove the rubber wheels and replace them with inline skate wheels with real bearings. Wood shims space the casters away from the deck to put them at the right height compared to the other 4 skate wheels.

In the end, [jfaneumann] got the summer riding experience he desired without spending a boatload of cash.

Upgraded GPS Now Accepts Voice Commands

[FreddySam] had an old Omnitech GPS which he decided was worthy of being taken apart to see what made it tick. While he was poking around the circuit board he found a couple solder pads labeled as ‘MIC1′. This GPS didn’t have a microphone. So, why would this unit have a mic input unless there is a possibility for accepting voice commands? [FreddySam] was about to find out.

The first step to get the system working was to add a physical microphone. For this project one was scavenged from an old headset. The mini microphone was removed from its housing and soldered to the GPS circuit board via a pair of wires. Just having the mic hanging out of the case would have been unsightly so it was tucked away in an otherwise unfilled portion of the case. A hole drilled in the case lets external sounds be easily picked up by the internalized microphone.

The hardware modification was the easy part. Getting the GPS software to recognize the newly added mic was a bit of a challenge. It turns out that there is only one map version that supports voice recognition, an old version; Navigon 2008 Q3. We suppose the next hack is making this work with new map packs. This project shows how a little motivation and time can quickly and significantly upgrade an otherwise normal piece of hardware. Kudos to [FreddySam] for a job well done.

Rock Climbing Wall Installed In Garage Doubles As Storage Space

Climbing enthusiast and human spider [Swighton] just couldn’t get enough climbing crammed into his day. If he couldn’t get out to the climbing spots, why not bring the climbing spot to him? So he did that by building a climbing wall in his garage.

The process started with determining the available space that can be allocated to the project. In [Swighton]’s case he could afford an 8×12 ft section of real estate. The garage ceilings were 8 ft high. A few days were spent sketching out ideas and designs. To suit his needs, the wall had to have a 45 degree overhang section, a small 90 section (think ceiling, not wall) and a pull-up bar. Once the design was finalized, it was time to pull some sheet rock off the walls and ceiling so that the 2×4 and 2×6 climbing wall framing could be securely fastened to the current garage structure.

Three-quarter inch plywood would cover the wooden frame. Before the plywood sheets were cut to size and installed, he drilled holes every 8 inches to accept t-nuts. These t-nuts allow hand holds to be installed and easily reconfigured. The quantity of t-nuts adds up quickly, an 8 inch square spacing results in 72 t-nuts per sheet of plywood.

[Swighton] also added a hatch to allow access to the inside of the climbing wall so that space would not go to waste. It is now a storage area but may become a kids’ fort in the future. After it was all said and done the wall only cost $400 which includes $180 for the hand holds.

If you’re like [Swighton] and can’t get enough climbing action, check out this wall with light up hand holds or this interactive wall.

Hat-Mounted Clock Requires Mirror For Wearer To Tell Time

[gfish] was planning on attending Burning Man and wanted to make something unique (and useful) to wear. He decided on a hat/clock hybrid. Just slapping a clock on a hat would be too easy, though. [gfish] wanted his hat to change time zones both via manual switches or physical location.

On the front of the hat there are 2 hands, as most clocks have. Each one is attached to one of two concentric shafts that run to the back of the hat. Each hand is individually controlled by an RC vehicle servo. Those of you familiar with RC servos know that a servos’ max rotation is about 180 degrees and is certainly not enough for a full revolution required by the clock. To fix this, there is a 3:1 gear set that allows a 120 degree rotation of the servo to move the clock hand a full 360 degrees. With this method, each hand can’t move past 12 and instead has to quickly move counter-clockwise to get where it needs to be in order to again start its journey around the clock face.

Mounted inside the hat there is an Arduino that controls the clock, a GPS shield to determine location and an RTC to maintain accurate time. Mounted on the side of the hat is a control panel that contains an overall on/off switch as well as a rotary switch for selecting a specific timezone or for engaging GPS mode. The whole thing is powered by a 9 volt battery.

If you like unnecessarily complicated top hats, check out this WiFi enabled message displaying one.

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1-Hour Quadcopter Build

[marhar] was pretty confident in his quadcopter building skills when he made a bet to build and fly a quadcopter in just one hour! This is a big task but he saved valuable time by using some unlikely parts that were hanging around his parts bin. And to make the task a little more difficult, this build wasn’t done in a nice shop, either. It was built outside on a patio floor with the only power tools available being a hand drill, miter saw and small drill press!

The frame is made from cheap, sturdy and available scrap wood. The center plates are 1/4″ plywood and the arms are 3/4″ square fir strips. Notice the landing gear, yes, those are mini wiffle balls zip-tied to the wooden arms. Although an unlikely candidate for landing gear, they are surprisingly effective.

The flight controller board is an Ardupilot. [marhar] did use a flight controller that he previously had in another quadcopter. He used it as-is, and it worked, but no programming or configuration time is included in the 1-hour limit. Even so, it doesn’t take away from the impressiveness of the build time.  The motors, ESC’s and battery are just standard types used for most multirotors.

[marhar] doesn’t say what he won for completing the ‘copter but we hope it was something good, he deserves it. If you’d like to make something similar, [marhar] gives very detailed instructions and provides templates for the wood parts on his Instructables page. Check out the time-lapse build video after the break…

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Android Tablet Finds New Home In Car Dash

[Matt]’s 2008 Subaru’s stereo wasn’t really cutting the mustard for him anymore. He wanted to do something, something a little more custom than just an aftermarket stereo. After giving it some thought he decided he would try to mount an Android tablet in his car’s dash to act as a media player.

The HTC Evo View tablet appeared to be a great size to fit in the space left over from the stock radio, and it did fit nicely but there was a problem, the AC vent was in the way of the headphone and USB jacks! This was only a minor inconvenience for [Matt]. Instead of butchering the AC vents he decided to disassemble the tablet and see what the other options were. Luckily for him, both the USB and headphone jacks were on their own PCB boards. A quick slot cut in the rear tablet case allowed both connectors to now face towards the front of the car into the gaping crevasse the stock stereo once filled. Since the manipulated tablet case was facing inside the dash it wouldn’t create any unsightliness for the passengers.

With those connections out of the way it was time to focus on mounting the tablet in the dash. The stock trim panel that housed the old radio and two AC vents was modified with a hand-made fiberglass bezel to fit the tablet screen and make it look like the car came that way. The bezel was sanded smooth and painted to match the rest of the interior.

Originally,  [Matt] had to turn the tablet both on and off when starting and stopping the car. He then stumbled upon a product called the IOIO. The IOIO allows an Android device to interact with the inputs and outputs; both digital and analog, I2C, SPI and UART. It even has a voltage regulator that can take the car’s 12v supply and knock it down to 5 for the tablet. [Matt] also connected the IOIO to the car’s ‘ignition on’ circuit to turn the unit on and off with the car.

[Matt] plans on doing more with the IOIO’s capabilities in the future, but until then, he still has a pretty nice looking and unique car stereo.