66% or better

Hanging Table Makes Room for Activities

F2N02EOHS18CAZE.MEDIUM

[Matt Silver] usually enjoys a cup of tea in the evening. Unfortunately, this habit can be frustrating and dangerous while sitting in bed. He rectified the problem by building this awesome space-saving table, which can be stored on the ceiling of all places! Depending on the supplies you might already have, this could be a relatively cheap build of about $40 or less. [Matt's] using pine board for everything, but notes you could save time and money by re-purposing an existing coffee table. You will, however, need to make the ceiling frame to support it.

At the heart of this build is our favorite rope—Paracord 550. [Matt] used a single piece to tie the whole thing together, which can cause the table to lower crooked, but [Matt] found he can keep it level by putting a hand on it while it descends. You also get mechanical advantage from the pulleys this way! If you’re not crazy about the potential unevenness, you could redesign the pulley and eyelet layout to allow for four ropes to ensure a reliably horizontal surface.

Why not pair this idea with the portable electronics lab we shared a few days ago? You could have a full series of drop-down tool labs in your workshop. Think of all the space saving opportunities!

Woodhouse Controls Your House, Avoids Danger Zone

woodhouse

[Pat] may not be the world’s most dangerous secret agent, but he does have Woodhouse taking care of his home. [Pat] has been upgrading his sonic screwdriver home automation system these past few months. Waking up to a chilly room led him to start hacking a thermostat interface. [Pat] found that his furnace only needed one 24VAC wire to be shorted to a common during a call for heat. [Pat] was lucky in that his thermostat was low voltage. While researching a thermostat hack, we made the painful discovery that our thermostat is 120VAC, so watch for that if you try this one at home.

[Pat] connected his thermostat leads to a relay controlled by a Raspberry Pi. The Pi would read a temperature sensor and set the relay accordingly. That was fine for a quick hack, but opening an SSH window to change the temperature isn’t the most convenient thing in the world. Enter an old Asus Transformer Prime tablet. [Pat] coded up an Android Holo style interface using AJAX along with HTML/CSS/jQuery and PHP. OpenMic+ constantly listens for voice commands, and fires them off to Tasker tasks as needed. He calls the results Woodhouse, and the interface is very slick. The tablet controls and graphs temperature, [Pat's] media center, and his lights. Woodhouse is even [Pat's] right hand man when getting ready for those intimate moments. We can’t wait to see what [Pat] comes up with next.

[Read more...]

Confuse the Birds with this Daylight Simulation System

F7WW1DAHQP02H5D.LARGE

Hackers love a challenge. So when [Patrick's] father-in-law asked him to look into a daylight simulation system for his bird breeding cages, [Patrick] quickly discovered the ridiculous prices for commercial systems… so he convinced his father-in-law to let him design and build one instead.

Like any project, [Patrick] quickly listed the requirements of the system before starting anything.

  • It must brighten gradually in the morning
  • Stay constant throughout the day
  • Dim in the evening to a very low intensity

In addition to this, the lighting transition should be smooth, and the lights cannot flicker, as this can be stressful for the birds — oh, and it needs to be reliable.

To build the system, [Patrick] has chosen an Arduino Duemillenova, an RTC, a small LCD screen, some cheap LEDs from eBay and a handful of N-channel NPN transistors to provide the PWM for the LEDs. The entire system cost less than $100 — a much cheaper alternative to commercial systems.

We think the system looks great, but as a big fan of the Hack a Day community, [Patrick] would love to hear your feedback!

Listening to a Smart Scale

scale

[Saulius] couldn’t find a cost-effective wireless scale that did what he wanted, so he reverse engineered the communication protocol for an off the shelf model to get weight data himself.

[Saulius] bought a cheap Maxim 29-66SH scale that uses infra-red to communicate to a detachable digital readout. Using the USB IR toy, [Saulius] intercepted the messages that were broadcast. After a little reverse engineering and with the help of some Python scripts, he soon discovered the protocol his scale was using to encode weight messages.

[Saulius] went on to write a little web app using JavaScript, SocketIO and Tornado, a light weight Python web server. By connecting to the tiny web server that’s interfaced with a Python script listening for the scales messages received from the USB IR toy, [Saulius] was able to see his weight displayed on his smart phone through a web browser.

Since all the communication is through IR, there is no need to do any invasion of the scale as the receiver can be placed anywhere in line of sight from the transmitter on the scale itself.

Check out the demo video for the whole thing in action. If patching into the scale isn’t hard enough, you should just build one from scratch.

[Read more...]

Super Mario Lamp Encourages Physical Activity

FALTIN1HRBE3Z2Y.MEDIUM

What better way to encourage jumping around in the house than by adding your own Super Mario style question block lamps?

It’s a fun and easy project to do because it makes use of an IKEA Sangen lamp — it just needs some slight modifications and a bit of art work to turn it into this iconic question block. You will be working with mains voltage though, so please be careful!

The lamp itself is made out of fabric which means it can be taken apart easily, and then dyed that classic orange hue. Using a stencil you can spray paint on the question mark and then it’s just a matter of adding a springy-latching-pressure-switch (that’s the technical term for them right?) in line with the light bulb. Results may vary, but [Anred] has a great guide on how to make it to get you started.

Now all that’s missing is a sound effect to go with the switch!

[Read more...]

7-Foot DIY Wind Turbine Proves Size Matters

7ft-wind-turbine

When [brokengun] decided to build a 7 ft diameter wind turbine, he had no idea how to even start, so he did as most of us would do and read some books on the topic. His design criteria was that it would be simple to construct and use as many recycled parts as possible. This wind turbine charges a 12 volt battery which can then be used to power a variety of gadgets.

Although made from recycled components, this isn’t a thrown together wind turbine. A lot of thought went into the design and build. [brokengun] discusses matching the blade size to that of the generator in order to maximize power and efficiency.  The design also incorporates a feature that will turn the turbine perpendicular to the wind if the wind-speed gets to high. Doing this prevents the turbine from being damaged by strong gusts.

For the main support/hub assembly, a Volvo 340 strut was used because they are widely available, cheap and known for being long-lasting. The tail boom is made from electrical conduit and it’s length is determined by the size of the main fan rotor. The tail vane is made from steel sheet metal and its surface area is also dependent on the fan rotor size to ensure that the turbine functions properly. The blades are made from wood but instead of making them himself, [brokengun] felt these were worth ponying up some cash. [brokengun] also scored a 30 ft high lattice tower an airport was getting rid of. This worked out great as it’s just the right height for a turbine of this size.

[Read more...]

Upgrading Home Automation to Home Anticipation

geofencingHomeAnticipation

[Bithead's] already built some home automation to control the lighting and temperature in his house while he’s away, but he wanted to take things a step further and have the house automatically anticipate his arrival and adjust the environment accordingly. The project takes advantage of geofencing to create a perimeter around the home that listens for a transceiver in [Bithead's] car. We featured a similar project with a Raspi a few months ago, which locked the doors upon driving away.

[Bithead's] implementation uses a pair of Digi Xbee Pro XSC radios with U.FL antennas to provide an impressive 2+ mile range of communication. The home-based Xbee hooks up to a Parallax Xbee USB adapter and subsequently into his computer—its antenna sits in a nearby window on the top floor of his house to maximize range. For his car, [Bithead] originally opted for an Xbee shield and an Arduino Uno, but he’s recently overhauled the build in favor of an Arduino Fio, which reduced the footprint and increased the range. Check out his page for the build log specifics and more pictures.