Push Button, Receive Candy (or Death)

Will you be handing out candy on Halloween? Maybe you have a party to attend or kids to take around the neighborhood and can’t be home to answer the bell. You don’t want to be The Dark House With No Candy, ’cause that’s a good way to get TP’d. We’re not exactly sure what [Ben]’s catalyst was aside from trying to avoid tempting would-be thieves with an unattended bowl on the porch. Whatever the reason, we’re happy to present Candy or Death, his gamified candy (or death)-dispensing machine.

Okay, so it only dispenses candy for now. [Ben] hasn’t quite worked the kinks out of his death ray. He designed it to sit behind a porch-facing window so it can’t be messed with. All trick-or-treaters can do is push the button and take the candy. It’s built around a cereal dispenser that’s modified to be cranked by a piece of round rod driven with a NEMA-17 stepper motor and an Arduino Uno with a motor shield. The candy slides down a length of aluminium rain gutter into a plastic stacking bin, and the whole thing is built into a nice wood frame.

A few adjustments were necessary to keep it from jamming. The dispenser’s hopper uses rubber blades to govern the flow, and he ended up removing a few and trimming the others. [Ben] has an album up of all his build pics and put his code on the gits. Stick around to see videos of the machine from the front and rear.

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Bluetooth-Enabled Danger Sign for Lab

[A Raymond] had some free time at work, and decided to spend it on creating a wireless warning sign. According to his blog profile, he is a PhD student in Applied Physics. His lab utilizes a high-powered laser system. His job is to use said system, but only after it’s brought online by faculty scientists. The status of the laser system is changed by a manual switchbox that controls the warning signs wired around the lab entrances. Unfortunately, if you were in the upstairs office, you only knew this after running downstairs to check. [A Raymond’s] admitted laziness finally got the better of him – he wanted a sign that displayed the laser’s status from the comfort of the office. He had an old sign he could use, but he wanted a way for it to communicate with the switchbox downstairs. After some thought, he decided Bluetooth was the way to go, using a pair of BlueSMiRF Bluetooth modules from Sparkfun and Arduino Uno R3’s.

He constructed a metal box that intercepted the cable from the main switchbox, mounting one BlueSMiRF and Uno into it. Upon learning that the switchbox sends 12V AC signals over three individual status wires, he half-wave rectified the wires and divided their voltages so that the Uno wouldn’t fry. Instead, it determined which status wire that had active voltage. and sent a “g(reen)”, “y(ellow)”, or “r(ed)” signal continuously via Bluetooth. On the receiving end, [A Raymond] gutted the sign and mounted the other BlueSMiRF and Uno into it along with some green, yellow, and red LEDs. The LEDs light up in response to the corresponding Bluetooth signal.

The result is a warning sign that is always up-to-date with the switchbox’s status. We’ve covered projects using Bluetooth before, from plush birds to cameras- [A Raymond’s] wireless sign is in good company. He notes that it’s “missing” a high pitched whining noise when the “Danger” lights are on. If he decides to add an accompanying (annoying) sound, he couldn’t go wrong with something like this. Regardless, we’re sure [A Raymond] is happy that he no longer has to go back and forth between floors before he can use the laser.

The Effects are IN the Guitar? It’s so Simple…

We’ve all had that problem. Up on stage, rocking out Jimi Hendrix-style on guitar with your band, but frustrated at having to mess around with foot pedals to control all of the effects. [Richard] solved this problem in a unique way: he put a preamp and a microcontroller in a guitar that can create some very interesting effects.

For the musically challenged, electric guitars often have several sets of electromagnetic pickups that detect vibrations in the strings at different points along the strings. Selecting different pickup combinations with a built-in switch changes the sound that the guitar makes. [Richard] wired the pickups in his Fender Stratocaster to the microcontroller and programmed it to switch the pickups according to various patterns. The effect is somewhat like a chorus pedal at times and it sounds very unique.

The volume and tone knobs on the guitar are used to select the programmed patterns to switch various pickups at varying speeds. This has the added bonus of keeping the stock look of the guitar in tact, unlike some other guitars we’ve seen before. The Anubis preamp, as it is called, is a very well polished project and the code and wiring schematic are available on the project site along with some audio samples.

Web Browser Pushes Arduino’s Limits

Some projects that we build fulfill a genuine need for a new piece of hardware or software that will make life easier or fix a common problem. Other projects, on the other hand, we do just because it’s possible to do. [Gilchrist] has finished work on a project that fits squarely in the second category: a web browser that runs exclusively on an Arduino Uno with an ethernet shield.

The Arduino can serve plain-text web pages to an attached LCD and can follow hyperlinks. User input is handled by a small joystick, but the impressive part of the build is on the software side. The Arduino only has 2KB of RAM to handle web pages, and the required libraries take up 20KB of memory, leaving only about 12 KB for the HTML parser/renderer and the LCD renderer.

The Arduino browser is a work in progress, and [Gilchrist] mentions that goals for the project include more robustness to handle poor HTML (the Hackaday retro edition loads flawlessly though), a terminal, and WiFi capabilities. To that end, maybe a good solution would be using the new ESP8266 chip to keep things small and inexpensive?

The Walking Dead Survival Box for the Zombie Apocalypse 

When the world comes to an end and zombies run through the streets like a blood thirsty disease, it will be absolutely necessary to store a weapon (or five) away just in case an undead creature tries to get inside. In addition, stopping crooks from ransacking back up supplies will also be a primary concern as well as savage, brain-eating beasts take over the cities. Keeping objects safe with a lock box like this one would deter both undead creatures and mischievous thieves. Or at least that is what was going on in [Mattt Reamer’s] head when he took on this build.

[Matt] is a UX designer who drew inspiration from the wildly popular television series The Walking Dead. He even 3D printed the Walking Dead’s logo on the front of the blood stained box attributing the idea to the show.

The setup here uses an Arduino Uno which is powered by a 9-Volt battery. The fingerprint scanner unlocks the box by verifying the print against a reverence copy stored in the code. When the program authorizes the scan, a servo opens up the latch allowing the contents within to be retrieved. Video of the full system can be seen after the break.

Now all that comes next would be to protect those fingers.

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Dude, Where’s My Car?

Someone just stole your car. They took it right underneath your nose, and you have no idea where it is. Luckily, you have a GPS tracker installed and can pinpoint the exact location of the vehicle that thief drove away with.

Having a GPS tracker in your vehicle becomes extremely useful when something unexpected happens. Taking the necessary precautions to ensure a secure tracking system can save a lot of time and money if the car suddenly disappears.

Helping to solve the vanishing vehicle problem is the bright, young team at Cooking Hacks who created a step-by-step tutorial showing how to create a homemade GPS tracker. Their design is Arduino based and has a GPS+GPRS shield with an antenna attached to continuously pick up the location of the vehicle. Making a call to the Arduino inside triggers an SMS message to be sent back with the specific GPS data of where the tracker is stationed at. Information is then set to a server and inserted into a database, which can be accessed by opening up a specialized Android app.

We’ve seen similar ideas before, like this GPS tracker for stolen bikes, but this project by Cooking Hacks is unique because of its mobile phone integration with Google Maps. Not to mention, their video for the project is fantastically awesome.

If you have developed a system like this, be sure to let us know in the comments; and don’t forget to check out their video after the break.

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Tricking Tinder With A 3D Printed Finger

Online matchmaking has taken the internet by storm as mobile dating applications like Tinder attempt to take the work out of locating a soul mate. As of mid-2014, Tinder is rumored to have around 10 million daily active users making it a prime target for automated spam bots. The real spammers surely use coded attacks, but this robot is a fun example of a hardware-based attack. [Andrew] built it to be an automatic heart-shaped, button presser.

The device began as a single finger robot-hand project that was inspired by ‘InMoov’, which as their website states is “the first life-size humanoid robot you can 3D print and animate.” An Arduino Uno and servo motor laid the foundation for the system. After which, the joints of the 3D printed finger were assembled in place so that a touchscreen stylus could be attached. Once coded, the little robot was able to ‘like’ a new profile every 4 seconds. This adds up to approximately 900 likes per hour.

The project is cute, and shows one way that fake profiles can be elevated on the Tinder platform. An article written on Symantec’s blog describes a few other instances of spammers flirting with you via the Android app. This post is a continuation of an article released a year prior, yet Tinder has not addressed the issues relating to fake profiles since then.

Let’s try to focus in on the good. With a bit of additional ingenuity, this device could be transformed into a love searching robot that could choose between people. Get a camera hooked up with a face-recognition program, and add some user preferences so that the robot isn’t just hitting ‘like’ over and over, and we might be able to get some interesting research done. Still, it feels like it would be better to go meet people face-to-face.

Check out the video of the bot in action after the break, then let us know what other silly things you could do by targeting different apps.

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