LEGO and Arduino meet Han Solo

lego blaster gif

This full-size replica blaster from Star Wars, most iconically used by Han Solo and Princess Leia, has everything. Flashing LEDs, blaster noises, LEGO, and yes, even an Arduino. Not bad for [Baron von Brunk]‘s first project to use an Arduino!

The blaster was based on electronics and LEGO that were lying around and was intended for use for Star Wars Day 2014. (May the Fourth be with you.) “Lying around” in this sense might be a bit of an understatement for [Baron von Brunk], as the design of the blaster required the use of the LEGO Digital Designer and 400 blocks, some of which are quite rare.

The electronics for the project are tied to a moving trigger mechanism (also made from LEGO). The trigger mechanism hits a momentary pushbutton which tells the Arduino to activate the LEDs and a separate 555 timer and sound recording/playback device which handles the classic blaster sounds. The whole thing is powered by a 9V battery and housed in the front of the blaster, and all of the code (and the LEGO schematics) are available on the project’s site.

This is quite an impressive replica, and the craftsmanship that went into the build shows, especially in the LEGO parts. We think Han Solo would indeed be proud! If you’re ready to go even further with Star Wars and LEGO, you might want to check out this barrel organ that plays the Star Wars theme.

NFC Ring Lock Box

NFC Ring Lock Box

[Nairod785] wanted to build a lock box that would lock from the inside. He started with an inexpensive, plain wooden box. This kept the cost down but would also allow him to easily decorate the box later on using a wood burning tool.

To keep the box locked, he installed a simple latch on the inside. The latch is connected to a servo with string. When the servo rotates in one direction, it pulls the string and releases the latch. When the servo is rotated in the opposite direction, the latch closes and locks the box once again.

If you are going to have a locked box, then you are also going to need a key to open it. [Nairod785] used a ring with a built-in NFC tag, similar to the ring featured back in March. Inside of the box is a PN532 NFC module. The walls of the box were a little too thick for the reader to detect the ring, so [Nairod785] had to scratch the wall thickness down a bit. The NFC module is connected to an Arduino Nano. Communications are handled with I2C.

The NFC ring actually has two different NFC tags in it; one on each side. [Nairod785] had to program both of the tag ID’s into the Arduino to ensure that the ring would work no matter the orientation.

The system is powered by a small rechargeable 5V battery. [Nairod785] wired up a USB plug flush with the box wall so he can easily charge up the battery while the box is locked. It also allows him to reprogram the Arduino if he feels so inclined. There is also a power switch on the side to conserve energy.

The Berlin Cyberbeetle with Its Own TV


The evolution of the mere beetle has transformed from organic matter into robotic gears, circuits, and wires. This Cyberbeetle project was born during an open culture hackathon in Berlin throughout a few months time period. The event was called Coding for Vinci and was held from April into July 2014. The project used an Arduino and combined openly licensed biology related pictures and sounds from the museums in the area in a fun and playful way.

[Kati] and [Tomi] based the design on a gorgeous Chalcosoma atlas beetle species which was found in insect box scans that were taken from a nearby museum. The cool thing about this project is that the Cyberbeetle that [Kati] and [Tomi] created has its own hi-tech insect box with various special features. For instance, when the box was rotated on its side, small doors were revealed that when opened unveiled a tiny home theater system with a hi-definition flat screen, audio system and infrared communication. Inside the horn of the Cyberbeetle was an infrared receiver, which allowed the creature to interface with its TV program when it started. Music videos as well excited the robotic insect.

The project was awarded the “Funniest hack” prize during the hackathon. And a video of it can be seen after the break:

[Read more...]

Arduino Gives Your Toilet Options

toilet water saver

With the severe drought going on in California with no end in sight, [TVMiller] decided he could put an Arduino and a toilet together to try and save at least a few gallons of water per day. The invention fills a toilet to the minimum level, saving around two gallons per day for the average “user”.

A typical toilet functions by using gravity and moving water to create a vacuum, sucking the waste down and out of the toilet. As long as there is nothing, uh, solid in the bowl, the toilet will be able to function on the reduced amount of water. The Arduino cuts the flow of water off before the toilet fills up the entire way.

In the event that anyone -ahem- needs the toilet’s full capacity, there is a button connected to the Arduino that fills the reservoir to capacity. [TVMiller] notes that if 1,825 hackers installed this device on their toilets, we could save a million gallons of water per year and be well on our way to saving the planet.

The project site is full of more information and puns for your viewing pleasure. We might suggest that the “2” button would be very easy to integrate with the toilet terror level indicator as well.


Hacklet #10 Cryptography and Reverse Engineering

10 In honor of DEFCON, this week we’re looking at some cryptography and reverse engineering projects over at hardware reverse engineeringEvery hacker loves a hardware puzzle, and [Tom] has created a tool to make those puzzles. His Hardware Reverse Engineering Learning Platform consists of a shield with two ATmega328 chips and an I2C EEPROM. The two Atmel chips share a data bus and I2C lines. Right in the middle of all this is an ST Morpho connector, which allows an ST Nucleo board to act as a sniffer. The platform allows anyone to create a reverse engineering challenge! To successfully reversechip whisper engineer a board, it sure helps to have good tools. [coflynn] is giving that to us in spaces with The ChipWhisperer. ChipWhisperer is an open source security research platform. The heart of the system is a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA. The FPGA allows very high speed operations for things like VCC and clock glitching. ChipWhisperer is an entire ecosystem of boards – from LNA blocks to field probes. The entire system is controlled from an easy to use GUI. The end result is a powerful tool for hardware attacks. nsa-awayOn the Encryption side of the house, we start by keeping the Feds at bay. The [Sector67] hackerspace has collectively created NSA AWAY. NSA AWAY is a simple method of sending secure messages over an insecure medium – such as email. A one-time use pad is stored on two SD cards, which are used by two Android devices. The message sender uses an Android device to encrypt the message. On the receive side, the message can be decoded simply by pointing an android device’s camera at the encrypted data. So easy, even a grandparent could do it! buryitNext up is [Josh's] Bury it under the noise floor. “Bury it” is an education for cryptography in general, and steganographic software in particular. [Josh] explains how to use AES-256 encryption, password hashing, and other common techniques. He then introduces steganography  by showing how to hide an encrypted message inside an image. Anyone who participated in Hackaday’s ARG build up to The Hackaday Prize will recognize this technique. zrtphardphone[yago] gives us encrypted voice communications with his ZRTP Hardphone. The hardphone implements the ZRTP, a protocol for encrypted voice over IP communications. The protocol is implemented by a Raspberry Pi using a couple of USB sound cards. User interface is a 16×2 Line character LCD, a membrane keypad, and of course a phone handset. Don’t forget that you need to build two units,or  whoever you’re trying to call will  be rather confused! moolti-3

Finally we have the Mooltipass. Developed right here on Hackaday by [Mathieu Stephan] and the community at large, Mooltipass is a secure password storage system. All your passwords can be stored fully AES-256 encrypted, with a Smart Card key. Under the hood, Mooltipass uses an Arduino compatible ATmega32U4 microcontroller. UI is through a OLED screen and touch controls.     That’s it for this week! Be sure to check out next week’s Hacklet, when we bring you more of the best from!

The Arduino Yun Shield


A few years ago, the most common method to put an Arduino project on the web was to add a small router loaded up with OpenWrt, wire up a serial connection, and use this router as a bridge to the Internet. This odd arrangement was possibly because the existing Arduino Ethernet and WiFi shields were too expensive or not capable enough, but either way the Arduino crew took notice and released the Arduino Yun: an Arduino with an SoC running Linux with an Ethernet port. It’s pretty much the same thing as an Arduino wired up to a router, with the added bonus of having tons of libraries available.

Since the Yun is basically a SoC grafted onto an Arduino, we’re surprised we haven’t seen something like this before. It’s an Arduino shield that adds a Linux SoC, WiFi, Ethernet, and USB Host to any Arduino board from the Uno, to the Duemilanove and Mega. It is basically identical to the Arduino Yun, and like the Yun it’s completely open for anyone to remix, share, and reuse.

The Yun shield found on the Dragino website features a small SoC running OpenWrt, separated from the rest of the Arduino board with a serial connection. The Linux side of the stack features a 400MHz AR9331 (the same processor as the Yun), 16 MB of Flash, and 64 MB of RAM for running a built-in web server and sending all the sensor data an Arduino can gather up to the cloud (Yun, by the way, means cloud).

All the hardware files are available on the Yun shield repo, with the Dragino HE module being the most difficult part to source.

The Fridge Hacking Guide by BrewPi


The team behind BrewPi are at it again! This time they have created an online guide showing how to convert a min-fridge into a Raspberry Pi & Arduino controlled fermentation chamber. In it, they describe 3 possible options:

  • Option 1: Make a simple switched power cord, without hacking into the fridge electronics.
  • Option 2: Make a switched power cord, but also override or remove the thermostat.
  • Option 3: Rip out the thermostat and fully integrate the SSRs into your fridge (which is what [Koen] and [Elco] did).

First things first though. They had to clean the fridge. And depending on where they got it or how long it has been unplugged for, the inside might have been pretty rank and disgusting from mold growing out of every corner. This took a good hour or so to clean properly lest the brewing process get infected with external grossness. This is all worth it because a well-controlled fermentation chamber results in a superior batch of beer.

They put their laser cut case on top of the fridge, holding an LCD, Raspberry Pi, Arduino and the BrewPi Arduino shield. The Arduino reads the temperature sensors inside the fridge, the beer and the ambient temperature. Then it controls the SSRs they added to switch the compressor and a heater. Then, the cables were routed through the fridge and take control of the compressor.

[Read more...]


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