Help! There’s an Imp in my Coffee Pot!

Coffee. The lifeblood of our society. The sweet nectar of bean, whose chemical compound makes us feel so, so good. Doesn’t it deserve a place in the Internet of Things? [Matt] and [Don] thought so — so they connected their old coffee pot to their phones.

After receiving their developer version of the Electric Imp board, the two started thinking of small projects to test it out on; ones that might even have a real-world application. Since the Imp is capable of receiving inputs via the web, it’s super easy to write an app to control things — in this case, a coffee pot.

Hardware-wise it was actually pretty simple. The coffee pot control board provides power for the Imp, and the On/Off switch of the coffee maker is wired to one of the Imp’s outputs. One simple app later, and boom we have wireless java capabilities. Heh. Java.

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Sharpening Knives Using a Bread Slicer?

[Joekutz] wrote in to tell us about his very interesting creation — a knife whetting machine, built from an automated bread slicer. Confused? So were we when we read the subject line!

Tired of sharpening knives by hand, [Joe] wanted to speed up the process. He recently saw our post on making a tool sharpening turntable out of a bread maker and figured, why not make one out of a bread slicer? We have no idea how you guys came up with these — finally some real hacks!

First he took apart the bread slicer and salvaged the motor, gears, and some of the electronics. He created an enclosure for it out of some laminate wood he had laying about and created a bearing axle for the disc from an old VCR. To control the speed he’s using a plain old light switch dimmer; not the most efficient but does the trick!

It uses sanding discs you can buy from any hardware store, and as you can see in the following video — it works pretty good according to the paper cutting test!

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Switchable Magnet with a Simple Circuit

Magnets are awesome. Electromagnets are even cooler. But what if you could make a semi-permanent switchable magnet that acts like an electromagnet, but doesn’t use any energy to hold metal? You’re going to want to take a look at this Low-power Magnetic Hold and Release Mechanism.

It’s actually a very simple concept. It is basically an electromagnet attached to a permanent magnet — it’ll hold any metal object exactly as you’d expect — but if you run current through the inductor attached to it, the magnetic field created by the electricity will temporarily cancel out the field of the magnet — thus freeing your object being held. Since gravity is pretty fast acting, this impulse of current doesn’t need to be very long, only fractions of a second.

Now the real question is how big could you go? We covered another project a while ago called Open Grab which discusses the possibility of using technology like this in Quadcopters.

For a solution that uses no power at all take a look at switchable magnet clamps used for welding — they’re pretty cool — but patent protected of course.

DIY Hololens Uses Pepper’s Ghost in a Box!

Entirely too excited about Microsoft’s Hololens, the DIY community has leaped on the challenge to make some hardware before the real deal comes out. [Sean Hall] has an excellent 3D printed prototype that makes use of the Pepper’s Ghost illusion to create a “hologram” for this pair of unique VR goggles.

Similar to other DIY virtual reality goggles we’ve seen, [Sean] has 3D printed the enclosure — but instead of slapping the smart phone right in front of your eyes, it’s mounted above the goggles, reflecting off of a mirror and then a piece of transparent plexi-glass, which produces a hologram like effect thanks to the concept of Pepper’s Ghost illusion.

The problem with any of these reflection-based-holograms is they aren’t always that easy to see, so [Sean] is planning to try out some 1-way reflective car tint to get a more visible reflection while still being able to see through the image. He also plans to add gaze tracking with some open-source software called Project Haytham. It’s a depth sensor using a Kinect, head tracking using a Playstation Move and maybe even a leap motion controller for virtual object manipulation.

Check out the current state of this hack in the clip after the break.

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A Motor, an Arduino and a Whole Bunch of Laser Cutting

[Guido] was recently commissioned to build a kinetic sculpture for a client who wanted something unique. What he came up with is really awesome.

It’s called ORBIS: The Wooden Kinetic & Lighting Sculpture. It mounts to the wall and provides a focal point for the room – a bright flashy spinning one at that! Does it just stay there and do random things? Nope, of course not! [Guido] built it with a unique control box, two Arduino 2560’s and an Xbee to communicate between them.

Orbit Kinetic Sculpture

He was told to design it using old and new technologies so he’s got a rotary phone dial on the side of the box which allows the user to change through the different modes.

Switches on top also let you change the color of the sculpture and the speed at which it moves around. Since it’s wireless it can be easily set on the coffee table and become an instant conversation starter.

See it in action after the break.

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Nocturnal Solar Light Bulb Saves Your Lungs

India has a bit of a problem with electricity. In fact, over 74 million rural households live without power altogether. Instead they rely on burning fuel for light — and coincidentally, inhaling harmful smoke. Not to mention fuel isn’t cheap. [Debasish Dutta] wants to change this — so he came up with yet another solar powered light that is a low-cost alternative.

It’s a very simple light made out of a cheap Tupperware container, a 2V solar panel, a white LED, a rechargeable AA or AAA battery, a photo diode and a Joule thief (voltage boosting IC). One day of charging can provide approximately 20-22 lumens for the entire night of operation. While it doesn’t seem like much, a typical kerosene lamp puts out less than half that brightness.

And with the photo diode, it automatically turns on at night, and off during the day. A coat hanger doubles as both a stand for charging, and a hook for hanging it at night.

[Dabasish] says this is just the beginning and has a website dedicated to creating green energy and sharing it with the world. Video below.

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LEGO Based 3Doodler Uses Regular Filament

As part of a university research project, [Vimal Patel] was asked to make something out of biodegradable 3D printer filament. The theme of the project is called Monomateriality — making products out of a single material to aid the manufacturing process, and after the product is used, ease of recycling.

He started by experimenting with the 3D printer filament in the UP 3D printers the university had on hand. But he wasn’t content with the layer-by-layer deposition method that all FDM printers use. He was more curious about free form deposition modeling — extruding material along multiple axes at once.

Unfortunately the project budget didn’t afford him a 6-axis robotic arm 3D printing setup like this to complete the project. But he was able to build his own custom extruder using a hot glue gun, and some LEGO. It’s kind of like a 3Doodler, but much more bulky.

gun-revolve-culledframesUsing standard LEGO parts he was able to build an attachment for the hot glue gun to feed the 3mm diameter biodegradable filament through the nozzle. He’s uploaded the design files over at rebrickable.com to share with the world.

While the end product he designed (a bicycle helmet) isn’t too realistic, [Vimal’s] more excited at the accessibility of the making process — after all, you just need a hot glue gun and some LEGO.

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