Electronically augmented Foosball brings competition to the office

This office has a Foosball league that automatically tallies and posts the standings for each employee. This is thanks to all of the extra electronics that were added to the Foosball table in the break room.

The system is connected to the internet via WiFi. This allows it to store the final results of each game for use on the leader board. Player first identify themselves to the system using the RFID tag embedded in their employee badge (normally used to open doors in the building). From there the game play proceeds much like you’d expect, but the scoring is handled automatically. Each goal has a laser pointed across it which is broken when the ball passes through. But there are a pair of arcade buttons in case of a scoring error.

Standings are listed at the webpage linked above. There’s even functionality for new employees to registers through this page. Don’t miss a glimpse of the build in the clip after the break.

Continue reading “Electronically augmented Foosball brings competition to the office”

17-stage Great Ball Contraption must use all the LEGO pieces

Looking at this 17-stage Great Ball Contraption makes us think that [Skiyuky] should be working in industrial automation. The build, which has been assembled from an untold volume of LEGO parts, moves a reservoir of round plastic balls around a circuit. Each module exhibits a different mechanical way of handling the parts. It’s certainly not the first GBC we’ve seen, but the previous offering combined stages from many different makers. [Skiyuky] built this one all himself over the last two years.

The video after the break starts off at the main depository of tiny soccer and basketballs. To help illustrate how long it takes to move around the entire circuit [Skiyuky] adds a red and blue ball which are both easy to spot. From there it’s a Willy Wonky type of ride through all manner of contraptions. We’re struck by accuracy and efficiency with which all of the stages operate.

Continue reading “17-stage Great Ball Contraption must use all the LEGO pieces”

Controlling the power with bluetooth

[Mike] dropped us a tip to show off a system he has built to control some power sockets based on his proximity.  Initially the project started as a parallel port controlled box to switch the mains power.  Then he got the idea of turning this into a little more interactive of an automation tool. He is utilizing the bluetooth from his cell phone as a locator. When the box senses that he’s in the room, the power is on. When he leaves the area, the power is off.  You can see his ruby code on his web site if you wanted to give it a try or offer improvements.

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.

Rain barrel irrigation system keeps your plants fed when you’re too busy

sprinkler-controler

[Kyle Gabriel] moved into a house with a nice tract of land behind it, but due to his busy schedule he had yet to plant the garden he so desperately wanted. He worried that his hectic life and busy hours would lead to accidentally neglecting his garden, so he built a water collection and automated irrigation system to ensure that his plants never went without fresh water.

The system is fed by two large 55 gallon barrels that collect rain from his gutters. A 1/2 HP well pump is used to pressurize the collected water, which is then dispensed throughout his garden by a sprinkler. [Kyle’s] system is run from a small control box where an Arduino is used to control the pump’s schedule. At a predefined time, the Arduino turns the pump on, while monitoring the system for potential problems.

If the system starts running low on water, the Arduino triggers the valve on his spigot to open, keeping the water level above the pump inlet pipe. He also keeps an eye on pump’s outlet pressure, indefinitely disabling it before a blockage causes the pump to cycle repeatedly.

He says that the sprinkler system works quite well, and with his modular design, he can add all sorts of additional functionality in the future.

Python powered sprinkler system wastes no water

rain-gauge

One thing that annoyed [Jashua] to no end was hearing his automated sprinkler system kick on in the middle of the night, when it had rained earlier in the day. He wished that his sprinklers were a bit smarter, so he decided to give the system an upgrade.

Rather than pay hundreds of dollars for a more sophisticated automation system, he spent about $45 on supplies and scrounged together some items he had sitting around the house to make a rain-sensing module of his own.

The resulting project, Pysprinklers, uses Python along with a handful of components to better manage his water usage. He got his hands on a cheap rain gauge, and modified it with a game controller and a set of magnetic surface contacts. If there has been a significant amount of rain in the last 24 hours, his system will prevent the sprinklers from turning on. Additionally, if there is rain in the forecast, the sprinklers will be delayed a bit to see if rain makes its way into the area.

We’re all for saving money (and water), so we think [Jashua’s] system looks great, especially because he ended up using a handful of things he already had on hand.

Air conditioner regulation using a hobby servo

automatic_mechanical_ac_control

For anyone that works in a large office building, odds are you know the pains of dealing with a poorly regulated HVAC system. [Robovergne] and his co-workers recently moved to a new location, and found that the air conditioning control was less than effective, leaving the office as hot as a sauna or as cold as a meat locker.

While they manually triggered the A/C on and off every half hour for a while, that grew tiring, so [Robovergne] decided to take things into his own hands. He had never used an Arduino before, and figured that regulating the air would be a great first project. He mounted a small hobby servo onto the front of the A/C remote, and wired a DS18B21 temperature probe to the Arduino. A small pot is used to adjust the temperature setpoints, which are displayed on the attached LCD screen. Now, when the temperature starts to rise, the Arduino triggers the servo to turn the air conditioning on without human interaction.

[Robovergne] says that while his solution is ugly, it works quite well. It definitely gets the job done, we can’t argue with that!

Continue reading to see a video of his automatic A/C controller in action.

Continue reading “Air conditioner regulation using a hobby servo”