THP Hacker Bio: Felix Rusu

As far as entries for The Hackaday Prize go, Moteino is exceptionally interesting. It’s the only project to be used in other projects for The Hackaday Prize. The two other projects making use of the Moteino, 433MHz transceiver and Plant Friends didn’t make the cut, but [Felix]’s Moteino did.

Like many of the Internet of Things project, Moteino is a radio module and a microcontroller in an extremely convenient package. The radio is a HopeRF RFM69 operating in the  315, 433, 868 and 915MHz ISM bands. The microcontroller is everyone’s favorite – the ATMega328, but [Felix] also has a Mega version with the ATMega1284 on board. Already there are a few great examples of what the Moteino can do, including a mailbox notifier, a sump pump monitor, and a way to Internetify a water meter.

[Felix]’s bio below.

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Here’s Pi In Your Eye – HUD Goggles

[John Ohno] has found what is perhaps the best possible use for steampunk goggles: framing a monocular display for a Raspberry Pi-based wearable computer. [John]’s eventual goal for the computer is a zzstructure-based personal organizer and general notifier. We covered [John]’s zzstructure emulator to our great delight in July 2011. Go ahead and check that out, because it’s awesome. We’ll wait here.

[John] has been interested in wearable computing for some time, but is unimpressed with Google Glass. He had read up on turning head-mounted displays into monocular devices and recognized a great opportunity when his friend gave him most of an Adafruit display. With some steampunk goggles he’d bought at an anime convention, he started on the path to becoming a Gargoyle. He encountered a few problems along the way, namely SD card fail, display output issues, and general keep-the-parts-together stuff, but came out smelling like a rose. [John] has ideas for future input additions such as simple infrared eye tracking, the addition of a chording keyboard, and implementing a motorized glove for haptic learning. 

Want to make your own wearable display but have an aversion to steampunk? Check out this homebrew solution with (mostly) 3-D printed frames. And it has servos!

[Thanks John]

Wall votive display controlled with a glowing cube

wall-votive-display

This wall hanging would look great even if it did no more than light up. But thanks to a unique controller it’s meant to work as an interactive display for your living area.

The rectangles and votive candle cups are a set of three store-bought hangings. But lighting the candles and remembering to blow them out was a pain, so [Adiel Fernandez] decided to add the LEDs to make the job easier. But why stop at that, in addition to an RGB light for each cup he made them fully addressable. It’s all the better for a light show, but this also opens up the arena for all manner of different uses.

Accompanying the wall installation is a palm-sized cube meant to sit on the coffee table. Whichever side of the cube us up sets the function for the display, with a rotation tweaking the function, and a fast spin used as a select. If the power icon is on the side facing up, a fast spin will turn the display on or off. There are also functions for weather, temperature, transportation (we were thinking something like a bus schedule notifier but it’s actually a bit different) and animation patterns. After the break you can watch a demo of the cube functionality.

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Physical orangered notifies you of Reddit messages

Anyone who has been around Reddit enough to anger the hive mind is familiar with the orangered, the envelope icon right next to your username that lights up in a beautiful orangered hue whenever you receive a new message. [Brad] wanted an orangered that was a little more visible, so he created a standalone Reddit message indicator to sit on his desk and light up whenever a new message has been delivered.

The case for [Brad]’s new orangered notifier was taken from a cheap thrift store clock. After dispensing of the mechanical movement, [Brad] loaded up the beautiful wooden case with an Arduino, a trio of LEDs, a speaker, and, of course, a small envelope logo reminiscent of Reddit’s message icon.

The Arduino is connected to a laptop running this Perl script. The script scrapes the JSON returned from the Reddit API and sends a command over the serial port to the Arduino if new messages have been received (source for the Arduino and the notes.h header file). When a new message is received, the Arduino lights up the envelope icon and plays a short sound on the attached speaker.

There are a few improvements [Brad] plans to add to his orangered indicator. First up is getting an Ethernet shield and discarding the server attached to the Arduino. Next up is different lights and tones for different types of messages (PMs, comment replies, and mod mail). Of course the top of our list for [Brad]’s future improvements is actually making the LEDs orangered, but it’s still a very awesome build to allow [Brad] to waste even more time on the Internet’s time sink.

Video after the break.

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Monitoring batch jobs the Cylon way with Python and a parallel port

parallel-port-trigger

If you happen to do a lot of video encoding, you know that your computer can really drag while the process is carried out. Our own [Mike Szczys] transcodes videos at home fairly often, and because the process is automated, he doesn’t always know if a conversion is taking place in the background.

He has been tinkering with Larson Scanners recently and thought he could put everything he’s learned along the way to good use by using the scanner as a “busy” indicator for his PC. He hooked the scanner up to the computer’s parallel port, and took a few minutes to bang out some Python code that would alert him when his PC was busy.

He set his notifier script to launch along with FFMPEG, whenever his MythTV setup had something ready to convert. The Python script drives a pin on the parallel port high, triggering the Larson Scanner’s animation. Every minute, the script checks the status of FFMPEG and continues to hold the pin high until the application exits. Once the conversion is done, the scanner goes back to sleep, letting [Mike] know that the coast is clear.

Continue reading to see a video of his parallel port trigger in action.

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Toilet Buddy helps cover up bathroom noises

toilet-buddy

When it comes to bathroom etiquette, [Nick] and the crew at Gadget Gangster are nothing less than proper gentlemen. Inspired by a Japanese toilet that automatically plays a “courtesy flush” noise in an effort to conserve water while masking sounds, they created the Toilet Buddy.

While the Toilet Buddy does nothing to cover up any aromas, it does provide some sound cover for those louder times. Not only that, it also helps serve as a reminder for other bathroom courtesies as well. When mounted on the tank lid, the Toilet Buddy alerts the last occupant to put the seat down and shut off the lights before leaving the bathroom. Built with a Parallax Propeller board, it uses IR and ambient light sensors to determine the position of the toilet seat and the status of the bathroom lights, playing an audio notifier when necessary. Now if it only sprayed air freshener automatically!

[Nick] points out that the Toilet Buddy is not limited to bathroom duty, and can be used in a variety of projects where light/motion sensing is required. Be sure to check out his writeup for some usage suggestions if you’re thinking of building one.

In the meantime, continue reading to see a video of the Toilet Buddy in action.

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The Dish-o-Tron 6000 is back and better than ever

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When designing a circuit on the bench, sometimes things work far better than they do in real life. [Quinn Dunki] learned this lesson over the last few months as she struggled with one of her recent creations, the Dish-o-Tron 6000. We featured the Dish-o-Tron back in April, and at that point things seemed to be working out well for [Quinn]. As time passed however, she found the device to be an unreliable power hog. Aside from eating through a battery every few weeks, it kept spontaneously switching states from ‘Dirty’ to ‘Clean’ and back. It was time to take the Dish-o-Tron back to the bench for some debugging.

The random status flip from ‘Dirty’ to ‘Clean’ was a relatively easy fix, and required a small capacitor between the set pin and ground to eliminate the electrical noise that was tripping things up. She nailed down the spontaneous ‘Clean’ to ‘Dirty’ flip to a stuck tilt switch, which she swapped out for a mercury-based model, making things far more reliable. She solved her battery problems by wiring in a 12v wall wart, which might not be any more energy efficient, but it does save her from swapping out batteries all the time.

It’s always nice to see how projects evolve over time, and how the inevitable bugs are worked out of an initial design.