Hackaday Links: Sunday, June 30th, 2013

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The race is on to squeeze cycles out of an 8MHz AVR chip in order to better drive the WS2811 LED protocol.

[Asher] doesn’t want to buy charcoal aquarium filters if he can just build them himself. He filled a couple of plastic drink bottles with charcoal, cut slots in the sides, and hooked them up to his pump system. A gallery of his work is available after the break.

Is the best way to make microscopic sized batteries to 3d print them? Harvard researchers think so. [Thanks Jonathan and Itay]

The Ouya gaming console is now available for the general public. [Hunter Davis] reports that the Retrode works with Ouya out-of-the-box. If you don’t remember hearing about it, Retrode reads your original cartridge ROMs for use with emulators.

Making a cluster computer out of 300 Raspberry Pi boards sounds like a nightmare. Organization is the key to this project.

Hackaday alum [Jeremy Cook] is working on an animatronic cigar box. Here he’s demonstrating it’s ability to listen for voice commands.

A Kelvin clips is a type of crocodile clip that has the two jaws insulated from each other. [Kaushlesh] came up with a way to turn them into tweezer probes.

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Automated aquarium fertilizer doser

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If you are using live plants in your aquarium you must remember to fertilize them at regular intervals. Being a bit forgetful, [Deven] automated the process by building this auto-doser.

There are three different chemicals which are dispensed by the system. They are stored in the drink bottles seen above. Each has a plastic tube which runs up to the dosing motors mounted on the black box. [Deven] sourced the motors from eBay. They are designed for this type of application.

Inside the black box is the Arduino that handles timing and switches the motors. The control circuitry is protected using one MOSFET for each. To keep the fish safe the outflow is directed right into the aquarium pump so that the concentrated chemicals are quickly dispersed through the entire tank.

Now that he’s made it this far he might as well add the ability to feed the fish and control the lighting.

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Coffee pot aquarium keeps fish warm without cooking them (hopefully)

coffee-pot-aquarium

Beta fish are one of the easiest pets to care for. So when [Derek] gave his girlfriend one for Valentine’s day he thought the job was done. Turns out these tropical pets want 75-80 F water and that’s not going to happen in a plain old bowl when you keep your home thermostat in the mid sixties during the winter. While looking for a simple heating solution he stumbled across the idea of using a cheap drip coffee maker as an aquarium.

The two main components are already in place: a clear glass vessel for the water and a way to heat it. The real trick is to use the heating element to gently warm the water to the appropriate temperature. Perhaps the key piece of the project is that the device already had a timer that shut off the heating element. This translates to easy control with his MSP430 microcontroller as it means there’s a relay present. He also patched into the two seven-segment displays to give him feedback on the temperature currently being read by the RL1003 thermistor which is submerged in the water. You’ll also note that he added a few LEDs to the lid to give the aquarium some inner glow.

Scavenged tube television makes a nice fish tank

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[McCaulsey] found an old TV waiting for garbage pick-up on the side of the curb. He brought it home and gave it a new life as an aquarium.

His technique is a little rough, but the finished look is exactly what he was going for. He picked up the cheapest aquarium set he could find at the pet store. It just happens to have a curved front to it which helps to recreate the look of the original CRT. After removing most of the electrical components he went to work on the plastic fins that were used to mount them. Having somehow misplaced his Dremel tool the work was done with a drill and a 1/4″ paddle bit.

Once the demolition was over he started the rebuild by placing a backer in the tank. This is an underwater image that will save him from having to look at the inside of the TV case through the water. A piece of Styrofoam was used as a base to properly frame the front of the tank. The only thing we can’t tell from the build album is how he will manage to feed the fish without taking everything apart again.

[via Reddit]

Hackaday Links: Sept 15, 2012

Very tiny keyboard

The idea behind the iControlPad2 is pretty simple – just take the slide-out keyboard from a phone, discard the phone part, add two analog sticks and a D-pad, and put Bluetooth in it. It makes for a very small keyboard perfect for controlling a Raspi, a home media server, or even a phone or tablet. I think it’s cool, anyway.

I mustache you a question. Where’s the Hawaiian Shirt?

At her local hackerspace, [Akki] heard someone pronouncing Raspberry Pi as, “Raspberry pee eye.” Of course this joke needed to be taken to its fullest absurdity, so [Akki] gave her Raspi a [Tom Selleck] mustache. Slightly better than the Googly Eyes Arduino shield.

Not giving a Flip about proprietary batteries

When powering a Flip video camera, [Dan] had two choices: regular AA batteries, or a proprietary battery rechargeable through the USB port. When the rechargeable battery is inserted, it closes a small switch telling the Flip it can recharge these batteries. Wanting to put his own rechargeable batteries in his camera, [Dan] closed the switch with a little bit of cardboard, thus allowing him to use his own NiMH rechargeable batteries.

Building operating systems from scratch

A while ago we posting something about a Cambridge professor putting up a tutorial for developing an operating system from scratch on the Raspberry Pi. [Joey] decided to follow these tutorials and has a blog dedicated to his adventures in OS development. It’s not a custom UNIX-inspired OS yet….

Put a quarter in, get a goldfish

[Yooder] over on Reddit spent a week turning a gumball machine into a fish tank. A very nice build that is now home to a few neon tetras. Check out the imgur album for a full build walkthrough.

Aquarium automation keeps the fish fed and the lights on

fish-tank-automator

Anyone who owns a fish tank knows that a good amount of care is required to keep fish happy, healthy, and most of all – alive. [Vicente Jiménez] usually has no problem keeping up on the day to day maintenance such as feeding and switching the tank light, but he wanted to automate these processes for times when he can’t be home to take care of the fish (Translation).

His aquarium automation project is meant to cover three separate parts of the operation: light control, feeding, and pump regulation during feeding times. [Vincente] picked up an STM8L Discovery board to control his system, which enabled him to easily control the automation of all three.

He constructed the feeding mechanism using an old cassette player motor, which turns his food drum (an old film canister), twice a day at specified feeding times. Before the drum is turned to dispense food, the STM8L turns off the aquarium’s pump via a relay to ensure it doesn’t get clogged in the process. During the day he keeps the tank illuminated, but once night falls, the microcontroller shuts the lights off so the fish can get their rest.

There’s no video of the system in action, but [Vincente] has detailed its construction pretty thoroughly in his blog, so be sure to check it out if you are in need of something similar.

Arduino aquarium lights

[Kalle Hyvönen] just finished building his own aquarium lights. He used four powerful soft-white LEDs, mounting them on a pair of heat sinks to keep things cool. Now he could have just connected them to the power supply and plugged it into the wall, but instead he included is own controller. An Arduino drives the switch-mode power supply, offering dimming thanks to PWM, and the ability to automatically switch the light on and off using an RTC chip with a battery backup. The sketch includes the ability to alter the lighting schedule and other variables by sending serial commands through a USB connection. This protocol is detailed with comments in his sketch.

We’ve seen a lot of interesting aquarium light projects. This one that uses heat from the LEDs to warm the water is one of our favorites. Others are full of features like this version that includes a moonlight mode. But Arduino enthusiasts don’t have to look far to find offerings like this PAR meter build, or this aquarium light controller library which can be recreated using the ubiquitous controller board.