Mailbox notifier texts when the letter carrier arrives

mailbox-notifier

[Felix Rusu's] mailbox is on the other side of the street and he’s got a pretty big front yard. This means checking for mail is not just a pop your head out of the door type of activity. This becomes especially noticeable during the winter months when he has to bundle up and trudge through the snow to see if his letter carrier has been there yet. But he’s made pointless trips a thing of the past by building a notifier that monitors the mailbox for him.

He’s using a Moteino, which is an Arduino clone of his own making. It’s tiny and features an RF module on the underside of the board which takes care of communicating with a base station inside the house. The module seen above rolls the microcontroller board up along with a 9V battery and a hall effect sensor which can tell if the mailbox door is open or closed. When the Arduino detects a change to that sensor it pushes some data back to the base station which then relays the info to a computer or Raspberry Pi in order to send him a text message. All of this is shown off in the video after the break.

[Read more...]

Quick wallet hack adds pickpocket alarm

Recently there were a bunch of videos going around the net about some of the greatest pickpockets in the world. Simply put, if they wanted something you had, they were going to take it and you probably wouldn’t notice. I’ve always kept my wallet in my front pocket, and usually with my hand on it, but they even showed them getting around that in the video (you can’t always be vigilant).

I had the idea to make some kind of alarm that would go off if anyone but me removed the wallet from my pocket. A quick google search revealed tons of wallet alarms, but I noticed that they all had a credit card form factor(that’s good) and would make noise when exposed to light(that’s bad). This represents a problem since the pickpockets in the videos tended not to open the wallets till later at another location. I needed something that would make noise as it was removed from my pocket. Most importantly, I needed the alarm to be located inside the wallet. This immediately makes the wallet undesirable and will hopefully make someone drop it like hot coals.

[Read more...]

NES annoyance timer makes no friends at your work

mario-annoyance-timer

Still trying to solidify that reputation as the office Grinch? This project will let everyone know you’re a complete jerk in no time. It’s called the 8-bit Annoying Person Remover. It detects when someone enters your office at which point it starts to play the Super Mario Bros. theme song while the display counts down 400 seconds. Just like in the game the music gets faster at the end and when it stops they know it’s time to get the heck out.

The hardware inside isn’t too complicated. An Arduino and a Wave shield do most of the work. The song played is stored on an SD card and can easily be changed. There’s a speaker mounted under the top heat vent of the enclosure. The device defaults to displaying the time of day, but monitors a motion sensor on one side to detect when someone comes through the door. This also works when someone leaves, cutting off the music and resetting the display. Don’t miss a video of it in action after the break.

It’s as if this was made specifically for the Comic Book Guy

[Read more...]

Swiss Army Keys

swiss-army-keys

This isn’t a hack that shows you how to start a car without the keys. It’s a way to ditch the bulky keyring for a set of fold-out keys. [Colonel Crunch] removed the blades from the pocket knife and replaced them with the two keys for his car (one is ignition and door locks, the other opens the trunk). He didn’t take pictures of the process, but he did link to this unrelated guide on how it’s done.

About one minute into the video after the break we see each step in the build process. First the plastic trim is removed from either side of the knife. The blades are basically riveted on; there’s a pin which holds them in and either side of it has been pressed to that it can no longer move through the holes in the frame. To get around this one side is ground off with a rotary tool, and the pin is then tapped out with a hammer. The removed blade/scissors/tool is used as a template to cut the body of the key down to size and shape.  The pin is then hammered back into place before putting the plastic trim back on.

[Read more...]

Help Hackaday build a custom gaming controller for a good cause

jstick-R-1

We are going to make a custom gaming controller for a child with Muscular Dystrophy. His name is Thomas and he loves minecraft. This is a project that I have been wanting to do for years.  I’m just beginning now, and you can join in on the project and offer your thoughts in our forums.  We’re starting with Thomas, but ultimately, we’d like to develop a collection of fairly simple to construct open source game controllers.

For people who have a physical disability, gaming can have a profound psychological impact. Sometimes it is the only place where they can go and be on a level playing ground with their peers.  Often custom gaming controllers are quite expensive, especially when you start to leave the standard xbox/playstation form factor.

[Read more...]

Adaptive technology used to fly an IR helicopter

adaptive-tech-controlled-helicopter

This gentleman is using electrical impulses from his neck muscles to fly a toy helicopter around the room. The project is a demonstration of the AsTeRICS project which seeks to reduce the complexity of adapting the set of skills a disabled person can use to do a wide range of functions. In this case, controlling the helicopter could easily be switched to other tasks without changing the user interface hardware.

One of the plugins for the AsTeRICS project uses the OpenEEG library. This reads the signals coming from a pair of electrodes on top of each shoulder. In the video after the break you can see that as he flexes these muscles the changes in signal are mapped to the altitude of the helicopter. This is just one example of a wide range of inputs that include things like building a webcam-based mouse or using  facial recognition.

The toy itself is being driven by an Arduino sending IR commands. We’ve seen quite a few project where the helicopter communications protocols are laid bare.

[Read more...]

FitBit Hack causes food to spoil if you don’t exercise

exercise-or-starve

This hack could be titled ‘Exercise or Starve’. [Charalampos] needed some motivation to become more active. There’s a device called a FitBit tracker (black and blue on the left) which records your activity and submits it to a web interface. You get daily goals and can earn badges. But those stinking badges didn’t motivate him. He decided he needed something that would really get him off of the couch. So he hacked the FitBit to cut power to his refrigerator. Not meeting his goals will eventually result in a stinky mess and no dinner.

It’s a bad idea to cut power to the icebox. But we see this merely as a proof of concept. He’s using the Belkin WeMo networked outlet. Other than some security issues we discussed on Thursday this is a very simple way to control devices from your server. [Charalampos'] implementation uses the FitBit API to check his activity and drives the outlet accordingly.