Zen and the Art of Arduino

A zen garden should be a source of relaxation and escape from the everyday. The whole point should be to escape from–among other things–your electronics. Unless you are [MakrToolbox]. Then you’ll make a beautiful zen garden end table that allows you to make patterns in the sand using a ball bearing and an Arduino. You can see a video below.

Technically, the device is almost an upside down 3D printer with no Z axis. The mechanism moves a magnet which controls the steel ball and draws patterns in the sand. However, the really impressive parts of this project are the woodworking for the end table and the impressive documentation, should you want to reproduce this project yourself.

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Safe Cracking is [Nate’s] Latest R&D Project

We love taking on new and awesome builds, but finding that second part (the “awesome”) of each project is usually the challenge. Looks like [Nathan Seidle] is making awesome the focus of the R&D push he’s driving at Sparkfun. They just put up this safe cracking project which includes a little gamification.

The origin story of the safe itself is excellent. [Nate’s] wife picked it up on Craig’s List cheap since the previous owner had forgotten the combination. We’ve seen enough reddit/imgur threads to not care at all what’s inside of it, but we’re all about cracking the code.

The SparkX (the new rapid prototyping endeavor at Sparkfun) approach was to design an Arduino safe cracking shield. It has a motor driver for spinning the dial and can drive a servo that pulls the lever to open the door. There is a piezo buzzer to indicate success, and the board as a display header labeled but not in use, presumably to show the combination currently under test. We say “presumably” because they’re not publishing all the details until after it’s cracked, a process that will be live streamed starting Wednesday. This will keep us guessing on the use of that INA169 current sensor that plugs into the safecracking shield. There is what appears to be a reflectance sensor above the dial to keep precise track of the spinning dial.

Electrically this is what we’d expect, but mechanically we’re in love with the build. The dial and lever both have 3D printed adapters to interface with the rest of the system. The overall framework is built out of aluminum channel which is affixed to the safe with rare earth magnets — a very slick application of this gear.

The gamification of the project has to do with a pair of $100 giveaways they’re doing for the closest guess on how long it’ll take to crack (we hope it’s a fairly fast cracker) and what the actual combination may be. For now, we want to hear from you on two things. First, what is the role of that current sensor in the circuit? Second, is there a good trick for optimizing a brute force approach like this? We’ve seen mechanical peculiarities of Master locks exploited for fast cracking. But for this, we’re more interested in hearing any mathematical tricks to test likely combinations first. Sound off in the comments below

Trinket EDC Contest Entry: Shorty

Sometimes finding a short-circuit is easy, especially after the magic smoke has escaped. Finding a short on a newly etched or milled board though, can be a maddening task. Many of us have been there – wrestling with multimeter probes under a magnifier trying to find the offending bit of copper that is the source of all our problems. [Jaromir] designed Shorty to make this task a little bit easier.

Shorty is a short-circuit finder – but it’s not exactly like the one you would find on a typical multimeter.  [Jaromir] used MCP6041 Op-Amp to detect resistances down to the order of tens of milliohms. Determining an exact resistance measurement at these levels would require a heck of a lot of calibration. When looking for a short though, [Jaromir] is only concerned with the relative value – is he getting closer to or further away from the short. He determines this by sound. The Op-Amp output is sent to the Pro Trinket’s ADC input. The trinket drives a speaker with lower or higher tones based upon the ADC voltage. Much like the childhood game of “hot and cold”, Shorty will direct you right to your short!

There’s still time to enter the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest. The main contest runs until January 2, but we’re having random drawings every week! Don’t forget to write a project log before the next drawing at 9pm EST on Tuesday, December 30th. You and all of the other entrants have a chance to win a Teensy 3.1 from The Hackaday Store!

TRINKET EDC CONTEST ENTRY: Lazydoro

[Vasilis] has entered Lazydoro in the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest.  Lazydoro is designed to get him up off his backside, and walking around. Recent medical research has determined that sitting too long is a bad thing. In fact,  Dr. David Agus has been quoted by Nike as saying that sitting for several hours is as bad as smoking (wayback machine link). While we’re not exactly up on the latest medical trends, we can definitely see that getting up and walking around a bit never hurt anyone. Lazydoro will alert [Vasilis] once every 20 minutes or so to get up and stretch his legs a bit.

[Vasilis] plans to pair a Pro Trinket with an accelerometer module, specifically an ADXL377 from Analog Devices. The accelerometer will allow Lazydoro to determine if [Vasilis] has moved around. If 20 or 30 minutes go by without major movement, Lazydoro will nudge him to get up and take a walk.

Since shipping to Greece takes awhile, [Vasilis] is developing with an Arduino Uno and a ADXL345 while he waits for his parts to arrive. He’s hacked this into a wrist mounted device for testing. One thing  [Vasilis]  hasn’t figured out yet is how to alert the user to move around. A small vibrating motor would probably work – but we’d suggest electric shocks. A good zap always puts the spring in our step!

There is still plenty of time to enter the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest.  The main contest runs until January 2, but we’re having random drawings every week! Don’t forget to write a project log before the next drawing at 9pm EDT on Tuesday, December 23. You and all of the other entrants have a chance to win a Cordwood Puzzle from The Hackaday Store!

Trinket EDC Contest Entry: Shame On You!

[BDM] is helping others keep WiFi safe with “Shame On You!“, his entry in Hackaday’s Trinket Everyday Carry Contest. We all have that family member, friend, or neighbor who just can’t seem to get their WiFi locked down. Shame On You will show them how easy it is to detect such a hotspot, which hopefully will motivate them to correct the issue. [BDM] was a bit worried when he learned that Adafriut already has an open WiFi detector as one of their Pro Trinket example projects. However, we think he has added more than enough features to make his project stand out.

shame2Shame On You is using a Pro Trinket running at 3.3 volts, along with an ESP8266 WiFi module. Power comes from a LiPo battery and is handled by an Adafruit LiPo backpack. Like several other EDC contest entries, Shame On You is using a cell phone shell as a case. The display is a 1.27″ color OLED with an SD card. A disc style vibrator motor will also help get the user’s attention.

[BDM] hasn’t made much progress this last week, as he’s been battling some Christmas light cutting bandits. Logging each week’s work doesn’t always have to be technical, sometimes life intervenes!

We’re heading into our third week here in the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest, but there is still plenty of time to enter! The main contest runs until January 2, but we’re having random drawings every week! Don’t forget to write a project log before the next drawing at 9pm EDT on Tuesday, December 16th. You and all of the other entrants have a chance to win a BusPirate 3.6 from The Hackaday Store!

 

EDC CONTEST ROUNDUP: Musician’s Assistant AND BitMasher!

We’re getting all sorts of entries in the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest! Today we’re featuring just a couple of the awesome entries dedicated to creating music!

ma[johnowhitaker] is hard at work on A Musician’s Assistant. [John] is creating a device that does anything a practicing musician might need on the go. The Musician’s Assistant will include a metronome, tap/temp counter, and tuner. He’s hoping to also give it the ability to play back arbitrary notes using the Pro Trinket’s on-board ATmega328. [John] is trying to do all this with just LEDs and buttons as a user interface, though he is willing to go to an LCD or OLED if he needs to.

masher[Michele Perla] is working on BitMasher, portable lo-fi music sequencer. The BitMasher will allow a musician on the go to create music anywhere. [Michele] began with a SID based sequencer in mind, but he’s currently trying to do it all on the Pro Trinket. He’s already got [Roman’s] BTc Sound Compression Algorithm working on an Arduino Leonardo. Lo-Fi for sure, but that’s what makes BitMasher fun! [Michele] envisions the song entry to be similar to that of the classic Roland TR-808.  The primary user interface will be an Adafruit Trellis 4×4 button+LED driver board.

Don’t forget that our second random drawing will be held on Tuesday, December 9th, at 9pm EST.  To be eligible you need to submit your project as an official entry and publish at least one project log during the week. This week’s prize is a Cordwood Puzzle from The Hackaday Store. Check out the contest page for the full details!

Dog Tracker Knows Where the Dirt is

[Eric] is well on his way to making one of the less pleasant chores of pet ownership a bit easier with his dog tracking system. The dog tracker is actually a small part of [Eric’s] much larger OpenHAB system, which we featured back in July.

As a dog owner, [Eric] hates searching the yard for his pet’s droppings. He had been planning a system to make this easier, and a local hackerspace event provided just the opportunity to flesh his ideas out. The Dog Tracker’s primary sensor is a GPS. Most dogs remain motionless for a few seconds while they go about their business. [Eric’s] Arduino-frgbased system uses this fact, coupled with a tilt sensor to determine if the family pet has left any presents.

The tracker relays this information to the home base station using a HopeRF RFM69 transceiver. The RFM69 only has about a 900 foot range, so folks with larger properties will probably want to spring for a cellular network based tracking system. Once the droppings have been tracked, OpenHAB has an interface

[Eric] has also covered runaway dogs in his design. If Fido passes a geo-fence, OpenHAB will raise the alarm. A handheld dog tracker with its own RFM69 can be used to chase down dogs on the run. Future plans are to miniaturize the dog tracker such that it will be more comfortable for a dog to wear.

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