Valentine’s PCBs To Make Your Heart Melt

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Have you ever sat in bed, staring at a bottle of Iron III Chloride, and thought “I should do something with that…”? [Tobias] has. He wanted to use his tinkering skills to make his girlfriend happy, so he decided to make this beautiful etched PCB that professes his love to her.

The cool thing about this project is that [Tobias] has never etched a PCB, or even worked with SMD parts before! After designing the PCB layout on his computer, he printed it out on an inkjet transparency film and applied it to his PCB. After 14 minutes of exposure he then put the board into development fluid for about 60 seconds — it was starting to look good already! He then pulled out his trusty bottle of Iron III Chloride and began the etching process.

Once the board was etched, he soldered 18 red PLCC-2 LEDs in place, each with its own 330Ohm resistor. Not content with a simple on/off switch, [Tobias] decided to program a Trinket with a voltage regulator and mosfet to have it pulse on and off, similar to a beating heart! The finished project looks great, and we’re sure his girlfriend will love it.

Another bonus to doing something geeky like this for your loved ones means it will increase their acceptance of tools laying about, and half-finished projects that aren’t quite as pretty!

Walkalong Heart Glider

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[Darcy Whyte] is a bit of a paper plane aficionado, so in preparation for this year’s Valentine’s day (that’s one month from today!) he’s created a flying Walkalong heart glider you can make yourself!

First off, what’s a Walkalong glider? Well, it’s a type of toy airplane made out of a light material with geometry that allows for a very slow descent — one that can be extended almost indefinitely if you walk behind it to create a slight draft. [Darcy] has made a whole bunch of these in all different shapes and sizes, and even got to fly them around the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum for a Walkalong Glider Meetup!

He’s since created the do it yourself Walkalong heart glider which can easily fit inside a card for a very unique Valentine’s memento. It does require a foam cutter to make, but [Darcy] also has plans on his site for a DIY hot-wire foam cutter that costs less than $10 to build!

It’s a cute little project — stick around after the break to see how it’s done!

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Christmas Tweetball

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The holidays are long over, but we’re still getting a smattering of holiday themed hacks. For this one, the [Han's] family decided to make a Christmas bauble that relays their tweets to them!

They call it the Tweetbal which is Dutch for — well — Tweetball! Whenever someone tweets with the hashtag #tweetbal it gets displayed on the 20×4 serial LCD display. They’re using an Arduino Uno with an RN-XV WiFly module to receive and send the tweets to the display. A large white plastic ornament ball houses it all secured very firmly with our favorite adhesion method — duct tape. It’s a pretty simple project, but a great holiday hack if we do say so ourselves — plus it could be easily used for non-holiday purposes — like a desktop trinket twitter feed!

Stick around after the break to see its tweeting capabilities in action.

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Hacking a Christmas Tree for Less Blinkyness

Hacking a Christmas Tree to Blink Slower

What good is a fiber optic self-lighting Christmas tree if it flashes so fast it will put you into an epileptic attack? The answer is “Not very good”, if you ask [Mads Nielsen] a.k.a [EcProjects]. So [EcProjects ] started a little project to slow the Christmas tree’s blinkyness down to a more reasonable rate. The task didn’t seem too difficult at first but turned into a quality tutorial building a variable frequency H-bridge motor control.

After opening the base of the tree [EcProjects] found a 12 volt AC geared synchronous motor turning a multi colored translucent plastic disk. A bright spotlight was shining upwards through the turning disk into the ends of hundreds of small fiber optics. This mechanism dumps loads of multi colored light out the ends of the fibers at the tips of the Christmas tree branches as the disk turns.

His goal was to slow down the motor; however, the rotation was based on the 50 Hz mains signal. In order to continue using this motor a lower frequency AC power source was needed. What follows in the video is an excellent lesson on how an AC synchronous motor works plus how to build a variable frequency control and H-bridge using some transistors, resistors and CMOS 4069 inverter chip.

In the end the frequency drive could only be lowered to about 30 Hz before the synchronous motor would stall and reverse using his design. [EcProjects] was bold enough to include several fails which always provides more opportunity for learning and is greatly appreciated.

If you believe you have a better solution please share your idea in the comments. I’m sure the first proposal will include an Arduino and servo modified for continuous rotation, but any solutions would be fascinating including modifications to his design. You can join us after the break to watch the video.

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Fubarino Contest: Home Automation and Candle Flicker

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Here’s a set of holiday themed contest entries:

With a home automation system already in place, and considering the time of year, [Thom] chose to use his Christmas tree lights as the contest easter egg. When he uses his smart phone to set the fifth channel of the lighting controller to a 50% duty cycle it causes the string of lights to mete out the Hackaday web address as a series of dots and dashes. You can find the code here (DOC).

[Jacques] offers up a flickering LED as the host of his hidden easter egg. When you short the two leads of the LED for a little bit it forces the PIC 10F200 into a different mode that then flashes our URL in Morse Code. Have a look at the assembly file. His implementation was based on the reverse engineering we saw recently.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Mega Tree Game Display

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Christmas may be over, but the holiday hacks keep rolling in, like this awesome interactive Mega Tree Game Display!

[Lior] loves setting up light shows every year (just check out last year’s awesome White Christmas display with music!), but taking them down just… well… sucks! So this year he decided to make a fully controllable non-holiday specific light display that he can reuse it all year long.

It features 12 x 5 meter long waterproof RGB LED strips secured firmly to the front of his house, making a trapezoidal 12 x 150 pixel display. It was originally controlled with an Arduino but he found the USB connection was far too slow for the high frame rates he was aiming for — so he’s using a combination of a Raspberry Pi and a Teensy 2.0 instead.

Now, just making a programmable light show suitable for all holidays is pretty cool we must admit, but as [Lior] puts it, a plain light show is “so last decade”. So he’s gone and made the whole thing smartphone interactive. Yep, you can actually log in with your phone and play a silly game that involves dropping gifts on houses and snowmen. He’s also got a pretty cool Hanukkah display that features a spinning dreidel! Check out the full demonstration video after the break.

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Christmas Tree Analyzes Your Tweets

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It’s Christmas time. You have a string of 50 individually addressable RGB LEDs, what would you do? Well, [Barney] decided to try something different. He’s made a Christmas tree that reflects Twitter’s current sentiments about the holiday.

Wait, what? We admit, it’s a kind of weird concept, but the software behind it is pretty cool. As it turns out Stanford University’s Natural Language Processing Group released the source code for their sentiment analyzer. Unlike a normal sentiment analyzer which assigns points to positive words and negative points for negative words, this one actually uses a deep learning model which builds up a representation of entire sentences based on their structure — only problem? It was designed and trained to analyze movie reviews, not Christmas tweets.

Regardless, it still does the trick (kind of), but, it’s pretty slow. [Barney] has his fastest computer running four instances of the analyzer, which pulls Christmas tweets that have been sorted by the Twitter API — it then analyzes them, assigns the sentiment, and places them in a second queue. He’s using beanstalkd for the queuing and a Raspberry Pi to control the lights. The result is a pretty light display whose colors represent the sentiments of incoming tweets — it’s hard to say if it’s actually successful in reflecting the opinion of the tweets, but it’s a pretty cool concept.

Stick around after the break to see the Christmas Tweet Analyzing Tree in action — say that 5 times fast!

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