Homemade Activity Monitor


A group of developers have uploaded a tutorial on Instructables showing the steps needed to develop a homemade DIY fitness tracker. The design is the second iteration of an Arduino-based wearable smart watch project of theirs. This time around, they opted to focus more on the monitoring system rather than a visual display. It is called the ‘RetroBand’ and records steps taken and calories burned by the user.

The microcontroller used is an Arduino Pro mini 3.3v. Accelerometer and gyro sensors were integrated to capture the movement of the ‘RetroBand.’ A wireless bluetooth module connects to an Android phone which presents the data through a Play Store app complete with graphs included. An enclosure was 3D printed. Everything is powered by a one cell Lithum-Polymer battery. The code for the project can be found on Github, and additional information with a how-to manual is on their website (which is in Korean, but can easily be translated through the browser).

Homemade Superhero: [James'] DIY Exoskeleton


Exoskeleton Lift

We’re not just a bunch of monkeys with typewriters here at Hackaday; we don our hacker hat whenever our schedules allow. Or, in the case of Hackaday’s own [James Hobson]—aka [The Hacksmith]—he dons this slick exoskeleton prototype instead,turning himself into a superhero. Inspired by the exoskeleton from the film Elysium, this project puts [James] one step closer to the greater goal of creating an Iron Man-style suit.

For now, though, the exoskeleton is impressive enough on its own. The build is a combination of custom-cut perforated steel tubing and pneumatic cylinders, attached to a back braces of sorts. In the demonstration video, [James] stares down 170 pounds of cinder block affixed to a barbell, and although he’s no lightweight, you can tell immediately from his reaction how much assistance the exoskeleton provides as [James] curls the makeshift weights over and over. And that’s only at half pressure. [James] thinks he could break the 300 pound mark of lifting if he didn’t break his legs first.

There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of the build process to be had, so make sure you stick around after the jump for a sizable helping of videos, and check out [The Hacksmith's] website for more of his projects.

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The Handsfree Icebucket Challenge Backpack


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken the internet by storm as tv stars, musicians, athletes, kids, students and everyone in between have thrown freezing water all over themselves in an effort to raise awareness (and millions of dollars) to help cure the neurodegenerative disease. So when [Christopher] was challenged by a friend, he decided to make an icebucket backpack that would pour the liquid from above without having to use his hands.

The wearable device uses a Barometric pressure sensor that is triggered when air is blown into a tube. This sensor is attached to an Arduino Uno. Once activated, the pouring process begins drenching the person below in ice cold water. It’s a little unnecessary, but it gets the job done in a fun, maker-style way. Now if you make something similar, don’t forget to actually support the cause and donate money.

To see the icebucket backpack in action, check out the video after the break:

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Lucid Dreaming with Plastic Milk Cartons

milk-carton-mask-layoutBeing aware that oneself is in a dream can be a difficult moment to accomplish. But as [Rob] showed on his blog, monitoring the lucid experience once it happens doesn’t have to be costly. Instead, household items can be fashioned together to make a mask that senses REM sleep cycles. We were tipped off to the project by [Michael Paul Coder] who developed an algorithm to communicate inside a dream.

[Rob] cut up plastic milk cartons for this ‘DreamJacker’ project and attached a webcam to produce a simple way to detect eye movements. A standard game adapter with a triangular array of white LED’s was added to the plastic cover in order to provide the necessary illumination needed for the camera. After testing it out, he switched to red light to balance sensitivity issues. Another iteration later and [Rob] attempted to create hypnagogic imagery during the drowsiness state that occurs right before falling asleep. He did this by fitting a single tri-color LED that he scrapped from Christmas lights that were dumped on his street.

The mask is tied to the back of the head with shoelaces, and acts like an eye patch during Wake Back to Bed sessions (WBTB). The end result produces an eerie looking graph of eye twitching taken throughout the night. We would be interested confirming that this setup helps the user experience a lucid dream, so it might be time to make our own.

Since writing his post, [Rob] has since adapted a mouse for use inside the mask cup to integrate with the LucidScribe REM FIELD-mouse plugin developed by [Michael Paul Coder].

The Numitron Geekwatch


[Johannes] wanted to develop an unusual way to display time on a custom wristwatch. LED’s were too common, and mechanical indicators with small engines were too expansive, but Nixie tubes were just right. His design for the Numitron Geekwatch utilized two boards that were soldered together at a right angle, with a 3D printed enclosure made of semi-transparent PLA.

Future designs of this will improve on the button functionality as well as the housing of the wristwatch to protect the fragile tubes from external forces.

After the break is a video (in German) with [Johannes] going through the steps needed to make one of these of your very own:

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TiLDA MKe: the EMF 2014 Badge

The TiLDA badge from EMF 2014


Hardware conference badges keep getting more complex, adding features that are sometimes useful, and sometimes just cool. The Electromagnetic Field (EMF) 2014 badge, TiLDA MKe, is no exception.

This badge displays the conference schedule, which can be updated over an RF link with base stations. It even notifies you when an event you’re interested in is about to start. Since we’ve missed many a talk by losing track of the time, this seems like a very useful feature.

Beyond the schedule, the device has a dedicated torch button to turn it into a flashlight. A rather helpful feature seeing as EMF takes place outdoors, in a field of the non-electromagnetic sort. They’re also working on porting some classic games to the system.

The badge is compatible with the Arduino Due, and is powered by an ARM Cortex M3. It’s rechargeable over USB, which is a nice change from AA powered badges. It also touts a radio transceiver, joystick, accelerometer, gyroscope, speaker, infrared, and is compatible with Arduino shields.

For more technical details, you can check out the EMF wiki. EMF 2014 takes place from August 29th to the 31st in Bletchley, UK, and you can still purchase tickets to score one of these badges.

A Raspberry Pi Helmet Cam with GPS Logging

20140126_222809-1 Over the last 20 years, [Martin] has been recording snowboarding runs with a standard helmet cam. It was good but he felt like he could improve upon the design by building his own version and logging additional data values like speed, temperature, altitude, and GPS. In the video shown after the break, a first person perspective is displayed with a GPS overlay documenting the paths that were taken through the snow. [Martin] accomplished this by using a python module called picamera to start the video capture and writing the location to a data file. He then modified the program to read the current frame number and sync GPS points to an exact position in the video. MEncoder is used to join the images together into one media file.

The original design was based on the Raspberry Pi GPS Car Dash Cam [Martin] developed a few months earlier. The code in this helmet cam utilizes many of the same functions surrounding the gathering of GPS data points, recording video, and generating the overlay. What made this project different though were the challenges involved. For example, a camera inside a car rarely has to deal with extreme drops in temperature or the wet weather conditions of a snowy mountain. The outside of the vehicle may get battered from the snow, but the camera remains relatively safe from exposure. In order to test the Raspberry Pi before venturing into the cold, [Martin] stuck the computer in the freezer to see what would happen. Luckily it worked perfectly.

Click past the break for the rest of the story.

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