More 555 Projects to Enjoy

We love all of the projects that are coming out for the 555 design contest, so we thought we would share a couple more that have caught our collective eye.  Have a 555 project of your own? Be sure to share it with us, and keep an eye out for the contest submission dates. Read on for a few of our project picks.

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Wireless electricity enables next generation of annoying packaging

Yep, these cereal boxes light up. They’re using a new branded-technology called eCoupling that provides electricity via induction, which means the shelves have a coil with AC power running through it. The “printed coils” on the boxes allow inventory control and data exchange presumably thanks to a low-power microcontroller. But in the video after the break you can see that the printed lighting on the boxes lets them flash parts of the box art as a way to attract customers’ attention. We’d bet that they’re using electroluminescent materials but we weren’t able to get find specifics on how this is done. We just hope advertisers don’t start rolling noise-makers into their packaging.

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Making boxes from soda cans

This shiny little box was made from a soda can. You don’t need much to pull this off; an aluminum can, sand paper, scissors, a ballpoint pen, a straight edge, and some time. The embossing is done with the tip of the pen, but there’s a bit of a trick to it. The designs are first pressed into the metal from the underside of the aluminum. It is then flipped over and the outlines are traced, with one last tracing of the shape from the underside once that is completed. We think you’ll agree that this results in an impressive relief of the design.

This would make a nice project for that wedding ring you’ve been carrying around sans-case. Or perhaps this is just what you needed as an enclosure for your next project. You’ll find an instructional video after the break.

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Reverse geocaching Christmas gift box

This is the reverse geocache box that [William Dillon] built as a Christmas gift this year. He started with an interestingly shaped wooden box from the craft store. The clasp to keep it shut uses a servo motor on the lid with a wooden arm that grasps a screw on the base. As with the original geocache box, the Frustratomatic, and the smaller geocache, the box is designed to open only when in the correct geographic location thanks to the GPS module inside. That was a problem for [William] when a bug in his firmware locked the box during development while the key location was 1000 miles away. Luckily the box uses hinges that are attached from the outside with screws. We wonder how feasible it would be to use the mounting screws from the LCD screen to implement a coded emergency entry, using one as ground and the others as paths to microcontroller pins.

Single LED ultraviolet exposure box

[Jacques Lebrac] built a UV exposure box for printed circuit boards using just one LED. He usually makes boards that are just a few square inches and didn’t think building a box that had upwards of 80 LEDs was worth his time. He passed by the low power LEDs for a single 5W unit. Pumping 1.5A through this LED makes for some quick exposures, but causes heat issues. To solve this, an aluminum arm was used to mount the LED, acting as mechanical support and heat sink at the same time. The voltage regulator was glued directly to the chassis, providing at least some heat dissipation.

[Jacques] came up with an eloquent solution for holding the transparency and copper clad in place. A piece of acrylic is hinged on the back using a piece of aluminum tubing. The front has a magnet glued to it, with another one in the base to hold the cover tight to the work surface during operation.

Project enclosures the right way

[Stephen Eaton] created an enclosure and shared his process in a pair of blog post. We thought is was amusing that he remarks on how rarely his projects get the to point that you’d want to make an enclosure for them. We’ve certainly got a lot of bare-PCB creations lying around. But when it does come time, we think his fabrication method is a good way to go.

First of all, he didn’t start from scratch. He already had a SparkFun project case sitting around. The problem is figuring how to make it work for your situation. We’ve used a drill, a Dremel, and a file in the past and that yields passable results but nothing that would be mistaken for anything other than a carefully mangled project box. [Stephen] decided to mill the openings he needed from the box, which yielded professional looking results. He started by emailing SparkFun and asking if they could give him a 3D model of the project box and the obliged. He then modeled the LCD screen, LED light pipes, button, USB port, and SD socket. From there it was off to the mill with a custom jig and a few tricks we think you’ll appreciate. The end result is just another reason to build the CNC mill you’ve had on your mind for so long.

A Black Box Mystery

One of the members of the SomethingAwful forum recently found a black project box on the street (as seen above), with no idea what the thing did. After (hopefully) making sure there were no explosives, [noapparentfunction] posted a picture online to see if someone could figure it out. According to them, this is what the chips are labelled as:

Center black IC: MICREL Y22758C; 0417
Long white DIP switch IC: CTS 206-12; T438
Small black microcontroller on right: 12C508A; 04/P1V6; 0437. Has a tiny “M-inside circle” logo.

From our experience, we recognized the PIC on the board, but without some more photos, it makes this mystery a little more interesting.

Right now their best guess is a garage door opener of some kind because of the 12 DIP switch part. Any HAD readers willing to investigate and weigh in? The game is afoot!

[thanks to Dave D. who sent this in]