Putting QR codes in copper

Former Hackaday contributor [mikeysklar] has been trying to etch a QR code into a sheet of copper. Although his phone can’t read the CuR codes he’s made so far, he’s still made an impressive piece of milled copper.

The biggest problem [mikey] ran into is getting Inkscape to generate proper cnc tool paths instead of just tracing a bitmap image. He’s got the CNC part of his build under control, but he still can’t find a QR code reader that will register his work.

We’re no stranger to QR codes here at Hack a Day, and it’s very possible the only thing that could be stopping [mikey]‘s QR code from being read by a phone is the contrast of the image. We’re thinking a little bit of printer’s ink forced into the non-copper part of the PCB would make the QR code register. Since [mikey] already has a very nice negative etching of his QR code, he could easily use his new board as a printing plate, making infinite paper copies of his copper-based QR code.

If you’ve got any ideas on how [mikey] can get his QR code working, post them in the comments.

Give yourself a sixth sense on the cheap

sixth-sense-magnetic-ring

Hackaday regular [Mikey Sklar] is no stranger to body modifications. He enjoys tweaking his body in ways that help him with day to day tasks, including a ruler tattoo on his arm and an RFID chip embedded in the web of his hand. Lately, he has been toying around with a less invasive means of getting a better feel for magnetic fields in his surroundings.

Turned on to magnetic rings by a friend, he now wears an epoxy-coated rare earth ring every day, changing the way he interacts with the world. He says that besides the obvious ability to tell when he’s near iron-heavy material, he can also feel cell phone calls, as the speaker draws the ring closer while producing sound.

He says that holding the electric cord of his tea kettle gave him the biggest start, making him feel as if he had been electrocuted, minus the actual shock.

While it’s not the most high-tech hack, [Mikey] is quite happy with the “sixth sense” this reasonably price ring has been able to provide – we just might have to try it out ourselves.

Refurbishing a refrigerator for fermenting

[Mikey Sklar] wrote in to show us how he refurbished a neighbors useless refrigerator as a fermentation chamber. [Mikey] is a fan of making breads, kemchi, yogurt, and tempeh. To make these, it helps to have a completely controlled temperature for them to ferment in. [Mikey] developed a temp controller for this in the past, but had to either build a control box or use a giant chest freezer.  This is not optimal for limited space, such as a kitchen. He got lucky when a neighbor tossed a wine cooler into the trash. These little coolers are perfectly sized for a kitchen and even have a glass front so you can keep an eye on what is going on inside without having to open it and effect your temps. [Mikey] ripped it open, replaced the peltier cooler with a large heat lamp and his temp controller. Since he was making yogurt with this one, he needed only to heat it. The final product turned out pretty effective.

Chest freezer temperature controller

[Mikey Sklar] finds himself in need of a temperature regulated refrigerator for fermenting foods like yogurt, kimchi, bread, and beer. After some testing he found that by building his own controller he can get a chest freezer to outperform an upright refrigerator at this task by 2-to-1.

The controller is based around an ATmega48. It includes a remote temperature sensors which you can see connected to the lower left header in the image above. On the back of the board there’s a relay used to switch the freezer’s power on and off. [Mikey] is selling a kit but the hardware and software for the project are both open source so build it yourself if you have the know-how.

A chest freezer is a great place to store Cornelius kegs… we’ll keep our eyes open for one.

Pocket multimeter review

three_pocket_multimeters

Reader [Mikey Sklar] told us about a review he wrote covering 3 different models of pocket multimeters. We’re sure that you’ve had the same experiences we have being the go-to-guy or got-to-gal  for all things electrical. For our sort, having a multimeter on hand at all times has become an expectation.

[Mikey] looks at a model from ebay, Harbor Freight, and Radio Shack. Not surprisingly, the ebay offering doesn’t rate too well but does get the job done. We were surprised to read that he picked up the Cen-Tech model for about $10 at Harbor Freight. Although it may no longer be sold there (we haven’t checked) [Mikey] seems pretty happy with it so we’ll be on the lookout during our next tool-buying trip. We’re unfamiliar with the tiny Radio Shack 22-820 but we’ve always been happy with our larger 22-811. The 22-820 allows the probes to be folded up inside of the case cover for a truly pocketable package.

You can never have too many meters at your disposal and we’ll have to keep this article in mind the next time we’re shopping for another. Never used a multimeter before? Take a look at the tutorial [Mikey] linked to over at ladyada.

Sewer clog alert system

xbee

[miketysklar] noticed that a local business was having trouble with their sewage lines. People kept flushing tampons down toilets and it ended up clogging the pump. They had already installed a set of lights and horns to go off when it clogged, but they were hoping for SMS capability so they would know wherever they were. The new system piggybacks off the flashing lights by powering an XBee when they are activated. The signal it sends is recieved by another XBee attached to a computer running a python script. The script then sends a SMS via email to the poor fellow who has to fix it.

Related: Wireless Bootloading

Battery desulfator

mini-d

Hack a Day favorite [Mikey Sklar] is back with a new project. Mini-D is a battery desulfator. If a 12V lead-acid battery sits with a voltage below 12.3V, sulfur crystals will begin to form on the lead plates. This crystal growth increases the internal resistance and eventually makes the battery unusable. A battery desulfator sends high frequency pulses through the battery to create a resonance that will break up the crystals. On a 60lb automotive battery, it will take approximately three weeks to completely desulfate. You can find schematics plus a dozen lines of code for the ATmega169 on his site. Embedded below is a video where he explains the device and other techniques like load testing.

[Read more...]

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