World’s First Internet Connected Lawnmower

Okay so this IOT is getting a bit out of hand. Introducing the world’s first(?) tweeting, internet connected, lawnmower.

[Michel] recently bought one of those new-fangled cordless lawn mowers by EGO. It runs off a 56V lithium ion battery pack, and apparently, works pretty well. Since it has plenty of on-board power, he decided to strap a 64MHz PIC18F25K22 to a ESP8266 and connect it to the internet. That part number has been taking the world by storm and it’s totally freaking awesome. The ESP8266 is a tiny WiFi module that is controllable over a serial port — and it only costs $5. Hello IOT-everything.

Anyway, to avoid voiding his warranty, [Michel] using non-invasive sensors to collect data — A series of hall effect sensors and magnets to be exact. One detects when the cutting system is engaged, and another magnet and sensor pair counts wheel revolutions. In the end, this gives you data on how far you pushed the mower, how long you spent cutting, and how long you were out there. When the job is done, you have the option to push a tweet with your stats. Woo!

He does admit, the tweeting feature is more there just to annoy his friends.

Super Cheap Vac Attachment Helps Find Small Dropped Parts

It’s pretty much guaranteed that when working with small parts, you will drop at least one. This phenomenon is just how the universe works, there is no avoiding it. Digging though a carpet or dirty shop floor usually results in frustration and subsequent scrambling for a replacement part. Tired of crawling around on his knees looking for runaway parts, [Frank] decided to do something about it. He made a vacuum attachment that helps with the search… and it’s made from stuff he had kicking around the house.

The idea here is to suck up and contain the part without having it making it’s way into the vacuum. To do this there would have to be an intermediate chamber. For this, [Frank] used a multi-pack CD container. This was a great choice because it is clear, allowing him to see what enters the container, and it unscrews quickly making it easy to retrieve the tiny part. The inlet and outlet connectors are made from PVC and are attached to the CD container’s base with adhesive. To keep the debris from getting past the CD container, an old kitchen strainer was cut up and the screen material was used to only let air pass. Once a shop-vac is connected to the outlet pipe, the sucking can begin. [Frank] shows that he has to sift through a bunch of shop-floor crud to find his dropped screw, but it works!

The Greatest Thing Since (Toasted) Sliced Bread

That’s right. [Colin Furze] just made a household appliance obsolete. Who needs a toaster when you can cut your bread… and toast it at the same time!

Leave it to [Furze] to make something out of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a reality. Submitted as an idea by one of his subscribers to his new series called Furze’s Invention Show, he took it upon himself to make the long revered lightsaber bread knife. We were waiting for this day.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a light saber. In fact, its more of a light-saw-ber, which, pronounced with the right accent could be easily mistaken for the real deal. Using a re-wrapped microwave transformer — much like home-made spot welder rigs — [Furze] is pumping a ton of amps at low voltage through a hacksaw blade, making it red hot and ready to toast bread.

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Controlling A Rigol With Linux

The Rigol DS1052E is the de facto oscilloscope for any tinkerer’s bench. It’s cheap, it’s good enough, and it’s been around for a long time; with the new 1054 zed model out now, you might even be able to pick up a 1052E on the cheap.

[wd5gnr1] came up with a really interesting piece of software that allows a Linux system to control most of the functions on this popular scope. With just a USB cable, you can read and log all the measurement of the scope, save waveforms in CSV format, and send data to gnuplot and qtiplot.

Since the 1052E has been around for such a long time, there’s a bunch of software out there that takes advantage of the nifty USB port on the front of this scope. If you need a cheap spectrum analyzer, here ‘ya go, and tools for the .WFM files native to this scope even exist for Windows. [wd5gnr1] even says his tool can probably be ported to Windows, but ‘just use Linux.’

Homemade Table Saw Starts With Circular Saw

How often do us tinkerers go out into our basement/garage shop and don’t have the correct tool for the job? Most would say it happens more often than they would prefer. One option would be to buy the tool, but it is always more fun to build what you need! [kadambi] was in need of a table saw and decided to build his own.

He’s using a circular saw as his starting point but this isn’t just any old circular saw. This one has a riving knife that prevents work piece kickback and human contact with the back of the spinning blade. The saw is mounted upside-down to a wooden table that is supported by a wooden box frame. The boxy frame has another function, it acts as a dust collector. A vacuum is ported into the box frame creating a low pressure condition and most of the sawdust is sucked into (and settles on) the bottom of the box. Only a small amount of dust makes its way into the vacuum, preventing otherwise inevitable filter clogs. Out front is an industrial on/off switch as well as a separate e-stop switch.

[kadambi] has done some test cuts and is happy with his saw’s performance. If you’re interested in more DIY table saws, check out this mini saw or feature-filled one.

New Cable-Based Vise Improves Woodworking Workshop

We are all aware of the typical wood shop vice, the type that is mounted underneath the workbench and takes forever to open and close by continuously spinning a large handle. These vises normally only open several inches due to the length of the operating screw. They are also not very wide because a cantilevered wide jaw would provide less force the further away it is from the center-mounted operating screw.

Cable ViseWood worker [Andrew] wanted a very versatile and large vise for his shop. It needed to be wide, provide equal clamping force along the jaw and be able to hold very thick objects as well. One more thing, he wanted it to have a quick release clamping system so there would be none of that continuous handle spinning nonsense.

Spoiler Alert: [Andrew] did it! The end product is great but the interesting part is the journey he had taken along the way. There were 4 revisions to the design, each one making the vise just a bit better.

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Robot Camel Jockeys

You might think we’re sinking to lowest-common-denominator, click-bait headlines like the rest of the online press. We’re not. The New York Times Video Notebook series has a story on camel racing that you’ve just got to see in the video after the break.

robotPreviously, the camel races in Abu Dhabi had used small children as jockeys because they’re lightweight. Unfortunately, this lead to illegal trafficking of small children, mostly orphans. That won’t do. So they came up with a technological solution.

Strap a cordless drill with a purpose-built whip in the chuck onto the back of your camel. Add a car-remote keyfob to activate, and a two-way radio so that you can shout encouragement into your animal’s ear at just the right times. Now just chase the racers down the highway in an SUV and it’s like you’re there on the camel’s back!

talkingWe love the little silk suits that the drillbot-jockeys get to wear, but we’re not sure that cordless drills with walkie-talkies and remote controls count as “robots” really, because they don’t do anything autonomous. We think they’re more accurately described as “telepresence agents”.

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