Hackaday Prize Entry: HID Dial

Microsoft has introduced a few interesting bits of hardware recently, and the most drool worthy by far is the Microsoft Surface Dial. What is this magical input device that will revolutionize creative work on a computer? Basically, it’s a Griffin PowerMate — a rotary encoder and button — an interface that really hasn’t changed in a decade and a half.

[K.C. Lee] figures a device this simple would make for a great Hackaday Prize entry, so he built a USB HID multimedia dial. It’s a rotary encoder and a button. This one lights up, though, making this a gamer USB HID multimedia dial.

The electronics for this build are based around the STM8S003, an extraordinarily cheap microcontroller that will work well enough in this application. The mechanical part of this build is a little more interesting; [K.C.] says not everyone has access to fancy CNC or 3D printing equipment, so he built this model out of bits of plastic, metal, and superglue. This enclosure is literally an old superglue bottle cap, an empty dental floss spool, and bits of metal. It works, and took less time to build than it would take to design in a CAD program.

Right now, [K.C.] is working through some USB issues with the STM8 microcontroller. Once those issues are behind him, he’ll have a very cool and very useful input device sitting on his desk. It might look like parts waiting for the recycling bin, but it will be at least as useful as the fancy Microsoft version.

Hackaday Prize Entry: Brightenmacher

We have all at some point have made a flashlight. It used to be a staple of childhood electronics, the screw-in bulb in a holder, and a cycle lamp battery. If you were a particularly accomplished youthful hacker you might even have fitted a proper switch, otherwise, you probably made do with a bent paperclip and a drawing pin.

So you might think that flashlights offer no challenges, after all, how many ways can you connect a bulb or an LED to a battery? [Peter Fröhlich] though has a project that should put those thoughts out of your mind. It uses a power LED driven by a TI TPS61165 boost driver, with an ATTiny44 microcontroller providing control, battery sensing, and button interface. The result is a dimmable flashlight in a 3D printed case housing both control circuitry and a single 18650 cell which he sourced from a dead laptop. Suddenly that bent paperclip doesn’t cut it anymore.

The result is a flashlight that is the equal of any commercial offering, and quite possibly better than most of them. You can build one yourself, given that he’s published the physical files necessary, but probably because this is a work in progress there are as yet no software files.

We’ve featured a lot of flashlights over the years, but it’s fair to say they usually tend towards the more powerful. Back in 2015 we published a round-up of flashlight projects if it’s a subject that captures your interest.


Around the Globe on World Create Day

Last weekend was great for science and technology. While thousands of people took to the streets to protest anti-intellectualism, a few members of the Hackaday community dug their heels in, turned on the soldering iron, and actually did something about it. This was World Create Day, a community effort to come together and build something that matters. What did these people build? So much awesome stuff.

The Nest I/O in Karachi, Pakistan

The folks at The Nest I/O hackerspace in Karachi, Pakistan had a rather large meetup for World Create Day featuring the finest in laser cut, googly-eyed fighting robots. [Nasir Aziz] hosted a meetup at his favorite hackerspace for people to get together, discuss, and build something for the Hackaday Prize.

The highlight of the meetup was a discussion from EjaadTech, an industrial design firm that graduated from The Nest I/O accelerator. Among the projects invented during World Create Day were a ‘shopping helper drone’ and miniature fighting robots. Useful projects on one hand, awesome projects on the other, just like we like it.

MakerBay in Hong Kong

A solar oven found at MakerBay

MakerBay is a hackerspace located smack in the middle of Hong Kong. Like most hackerspaces, finding a place was a problem, but the folks at MakerBay found something spectacular. They’re zoned industrial, and only a five-minute walk from a train station.

There are quite a few projects sitting around MakerBay including a solar oven that would be pretty dangerous if it were outdoors on a sunny day. Also on deck are prototypes of small sailing vessels with a flexible hull designed to track and contain oil spills.  Highlights of World Create Day include upcycled wood construction and a spontaneous piano interlude. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more hackerspaces with a piano; they’re effectively free if you have a truck and a place to store it.

BlenderLab in Lille

While the World Create Day event at the BlenderLab hackerspace in Lille, France didn’t set out to change the world with a project, they did manage to come up with a really neat digital hourglass. The body of this hourglass is made out of laser cut plywood, with the display made out of two LED matrices oriented at a 45-degree angle.

Hackaday NYC

[Zach Freedman] reveals his devious plot
While World Create Day is a challenge for hackerspaces around the globe to come together and create something that solves a problem, that doesn’t mean there aren’t slightly more official events around the globe. Hackaday set up our own events in New York City, LA, and San Francisco.  The New York event was great thanks to our lovely East coast community manager [Shayna] and our hosts at Fat Cat Fab Lab.

[Zach Freedman], one of the regulars at our NYC meetups has an ulterior motive for getting the Fat Cat Fab Lab members to contribute their ideas to the Hackaday Prize: winning the Hackaday Prize would result in donating the winnings to the Fab Lab. It’s a brilliant and devious plot we very much recommend.

Tell us about your World Create Day

There were many more events going on around the globe last weekend, and we want to hear about how your World Create Day went. We’ll be covering more of the events of last weekend in the coming days, so make sure to add your pictures, stories, and links to the projects you started on your World Create Day event page on Hackaday.io. Event organizers are going to get some super awesome swag for making that effort.

Hackaday Prize Entry: MCXY – Mini Laser Cut Aluminum 3D Printer

With the easy availability of cheap and 3D printers from the usual Chinese websites, you might think that there could be little room for another home-made 3D printer project. fortunately, the community of 3D printer making enthusiasts doesn’t see it that way.

[Bobricius] has a rather nice 3D printer design in the works that we think you’ll like. It follows the MakerBot/Ultimaker style of construction in that it is a box rather than a gantry, and it is assembled from CNC-cut aluminum for a sturdy and pleasing effect. Whar sets it apart though is its size, at only 190x190x251mm and with an 80x80x80mm print volume, it’s tiny. You might wonder why that could be an asset, but when you consider that he already has a much larger printer it becomes obvious that something small and portable for quick tiny prints could be an asset.

Unusually for a home-made 3D printer, it has no 3D printed parts, instead, it is laser cut throughout. And also unusually all the CAD work was done in EAGLE, better known for PCB work. It’s a work in progress we’re featuring today because it’s a Hackaday Prize entry, but it looks as though the finished item will be something of a little gem.

Homemade 3D printers can be particularly impressive, for example, we’ve shown you this excellent SLA printer.

Behold the Many Builds of World Create Day

World Create Day was huge this year. Over 70 different groups on six continents got together on Saturday to work on projects as a global Hackaday community.

LearnOBots Labs in Islamabad, Pakistan

Perhaps the best documented World Create Day so far comes from our friends in Pakistan. LearnOBots hosted a day-long extravaganza of projects on everything from home automation, to wearable computing.

[Haziq] and [Rafay] didn’t just build an IoT lighting project together, they took the time to present their work in this excellent demo video. The build connects Arduino, a Bluetooth module, and a relay to drive the lightbulbs all controlled by an app they built with MIT app inventor to help a friend who is stuck on bed rest.

Browse through the event logs LearnOBots has posted and see a lot more of what went on. This image shows work on wearable interfaces. Fabric markers are used to draw out interesting designs which are then given interactivity using conductive thread and Lilypad boards. We also get a look at a user interface for Summer camp sign-up that was made using Raspberry Pi Zero and a 7″ screen. Other groups were working on custom input projects using Makey Makey and Arduino. The image at the top of this article shows some of the LearnOBots crew with a World Create Day poster, neat!

Appalachian Forge Works in Newland, North Carolina

World Create Day at Appalachian Forge Works brought a baby guitar amp to life on World Create Day. The basic circuit is built around an LM386 amp. It was designed using a whiteboard schematic before moving to the breadboard for prototyping.

For some folks that might be enough of a hacking sessions, but the effort didn’t stop there. An enclosure was designed and laser cut from plywood. This included etching labels for the power button and volume knob. There’s even fabric mesh for the speaker grill for a completely finished look that’s a showpiece even when not belting out some Black Keys.

Baltimore Hackerspace Breaks Out the Welder

Tiny wheels, big motors, and square tubing — it’s almost ready to hit the test track for some time trials. The gang over at Baltimore Hackerspace spent their World Create Day fabricating what surely will be the next championship entry in the Power Racing Series.

After this picture was snapped the team got to work on the control electronics for the racer, which end up in a transparent box between the motors. The team didn’t have time to install a driver’s seat but that didn’t prevent a late night test run.

Sounds of Sewing and Embedded Tinkering at The Bodgery in Madison

I celebrated World Create Day at The Bodgery in Madison, Wisconsin. There were a surprising variety of projects worked on at the meetup, at least three of them using something new to me:

[Josh Lange] brought along the driver boards he’s been designing. I was delighted to see the batteries used in the project. I didn’t realize you could buy 18650 Lithium cells in a consumer-friendly package (like AA batteries but larger) and there are battery holders to go along with them. I’m used to seeing these pulled out of old laptop batteries.

Hackaday’s own [Bob Baddeley] was on hand, working feverishly at the sewing machine. He’s fabricating an entire line of Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubemen costumes. They use those springy laundry baskets as the internal skeleton. Also being worked on at The Bodgery was an NES expansion port project that will make a custom cartridge hosting a Raspberry Pi Zero utilize the NES video hardware without altering the stock hardware. We also had a fun time working on embedded basics with a software engineer who is getting up to speed with embedded.

Tell Us About Your World Create Day!

We want to hear about what you did on World Create Day. We’ll be covering more events in the coming days so make sure you add your pictures and stories to your WCD event page. Event organizers get a special treat for making that effort. But mainly we want to show off the excitement and ingenuity that was abuzz around the world this past weekend.

Hackaday Prize Entry: Memes

Snap, Inc., the company behind Snapchat, is branding itself as a hardware company. What hardware does Snap make? Spectacles, or a camera attached to a pair of sunglasses. Snap, Inc. has a market value of around $30 Billion USD.

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [William Glover] is building a device that’s easily worth $100 Billion. It’s called SnappCat, and it’s a machine learning, AI, augmented reality, buzzword-laden camera that adds memes to pictures of cats. Better get in on the Series A now because this is 🔥🔥🔥.

Here’s the use case for SnappCat. Place a small device containing a camera and some sort of WiFi chip. During the day, this device will take pictures. If the device recognizes your cat in a picture, it adds a meme (we assume this means text, probably using the Impact typeface), and sends it to your mobile device. Just imagine sitting in a meeting at work. Your phone buzzes, you look at the message, and you laugh uproariously. Yes, you can has fud Mr. Pibbles, you can has so much fud.

This is the height of technology. That’s not to say landing on the moon or building a civilization on Mars isn’t a superior technological achievement. SnappCat is simply the best technology humanity will every produce because it’s all downhill from here.

That said, this is a pretty interesting problem. A small, cheap device that does image recognition is hard, and adding memes is just the cherry on top. We can’t wait to see where this project goes, and it’s a great entry to the Best Product portion of the Hackaday Prize.

Hackaday Prize Entry: A Complete Suite Of Biomedical Sensors

The human body has a lot to tell us if we only have the instruments to listen. Unfortunately, most of the diagnostic gear used by practitioners is pricey stuff that’s out of range if you just want to take a casual look under the hood. For that task, this full-featured biomedical sensor suite might come in handy.

More of an enabling platform than a complete project, [Orlando Hoilett]’s shield design incorporates a lot of the sensors we’ve seen before. The two main modalities are photoplethysmography, which uses the MAX30101 to sense changes in blood volume and oxygen saturation by differential absorption and reflection of light, and biopotential measurements using an instrumentation amplifier built around an AD8227 to provide all the “electro-whatever-grams” you could need: electrocardiogram, electromyogram, and even an electrooculogram to record eye movements. [Orlando] has even thrown on temperature and light sensors for environmental monitoring.

[Orlando] is quick to point out that this is an educational project and not a medical instrument, and that it should only ever be used completely untethered from mains — battery power and Bluetooth only, please. Want to know why? Check out the shocking truth about transformerless power supplies.

Thanks to [fustini] for the tip.