Swiss Army Keys

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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.

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Help Hackaday build a custom gaming controller for a good cause

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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.

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Adaptive technology used to fly an IR helicopter

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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.

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

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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.

Letting people on the Internet control your dating experience

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Like Cyrano giving advice to Christian from underneath Roxanne’s balcony, now you too can can advise young suitors trying to win the heart of the object of their affection.

[Lauren] had the idea of using objective, third-party observers checking in on her dating activities and giving advice as to what she should do next. Yes, she’s streaming her dates over the Internet and asking for advice from Mechanical Turk workers.

The idea behind this project isn’t that [Lauren] isn’t looking for advice from her own Cyrano, but rather to open up new, previously unexpected possibilities. Turk workers will watch the stream while [Lauren] presents them with options telling her to smile more, laugh, change the subject, or ask a question. [Lauren] receives these results as a text message, where she’ll comply with the Internet’s wishes and hope her date doesn’t go horribly awry.

It’s an interesting project to say the least, but we’ve got to wonder about the quality of the advice given from her online advisers. Turk workers do take their jobs more seriously than random people on the Internet, so barring an invasion from /b/, [Lauren]‘s night might just go alright.

Magnets keep the shower curtain from groping you

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We guess we’re glad to hear that other also suffer from the phantom shower curtain liner. On occasion the shower curtain will start closing in on us around the bottom of the shower. We’re not certain of the phenomenon that causes it. Perhaps it’s static electricity like when a comb repels a stream of water. It could be an issue with rising air though… who know. But [Sk84life0129] has had enough of it. He figured out a magnet-based solution to stop the shower curtain from groping him.

You can buy curtain liners that have magnets in the bottom of them to help prevent this. But this is an acrylic tub — not one that’s porcelain-coated cast iron like they used to be — so that’s not going to do any good. Instead, a pair of magnets from an old hard drive were glued to the shower surround. A couple of galvanized bolts had their heads sawn off, and were sewn into pockets in the shower curtain. These hold it taught while you scrub your body, preventing it from reaching out for a close encounter.

[via Reddit]

Adding task lighting inside a desk

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[Mahesh Venkitachalam] wanted to light up the dark recesses of his desk. What good is all that storage if you can’t see a darn thing in there? His solution was to add LED strips which turn on automatically when the door is opened.

The design is quite simple. A 2N2222 NPN transistor is responsible for connecting the ground rail of the LED strips mounted under each shelf. The base of that transistor is held high with a pull-up resistor. But a reed switch always connects the base to ground when the door is shut. Opening the door removes the magnet that keeps that reed switch closed. This allows current to flow from the pull-up to the base, connecting the ground rail to the LED strips and turning them on. You can see the video demo after the break.

One problem that we see with the design is that these are driven by a 9V battery. Over a long period of time that pull-up resistor will drain the cell. You can pick up a magnetic reed switch at the hardware or electronics store that is rated for 500 mA. If you can stay under that with the LED strips, and get one that is open when the magnet is present you will have zero power drain when the lights aren’t being used.

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