Simple tweak alerts you when you’ve left your headlights on


[Paul McGuinness] owns a Series III Land Rover, and as the vehicle as formerly used by the British military, it’s lacking some of the modern amenities he was accustomed to. Overlooking the lack of power steering and all-around drum brakes, the one item that [Paul] really missed was a buzzer that let him know when he left the lights running.

On more than one occasion, he’s had to have “The Sarge” jump started after leaving the lights running all day. Explaining the humiliation involved with jump-starting a Land Rover with a Nissan Micra (an unfortunate excuse for a vehicle, known here in the states as the Nissan Versa) in his blog, [Paul] decided that he’d had enough – it was time to build a headlight warning buzzer.

The circuit itself is straightforward, consisting of a normally closed relay connected to his headlights and ignition, along with a buzzer. When the key is in the ignition and the lights are on, the relay is open and the buzzer is silent. However, if the lights are on and the relay is not supplied power from the ignition, it closes and sounds the alarm.

A simple fix for a frustrating problem – we like that.

Preheat alarm added to a basic kitchen oven

[Justin] didn’t want to keep checking if the ‘oven heating’ indicator light had gone off before popping his unbaked edibles into the oven. Many models offer a buzzer to let you know when the chosen temp is reached, but for folks who own a basic oven model there’s just a light that tells when the heating element is getting juice. Not to worry, he plied his circuit design skills and built a buzzer to alert him when the oven’s ready.

It only took a few components to accomplish the task. [Justin] uses a pair of NPN transistors triggered by a photoresistor. One transistor is responsible for switching on the buzzer, the other transistor is driven by the photoresistor and controls the base of its companion transistor (see the schematic for a better understanding).

He designed and etched a small PCB to host all the parts. As you can see above, it mounts over the indicator light and is powered by a 9V battery. There’s an on/off switch to the right so the buzzer doesn’t keep triggering while cooking, and a potentiometer allows him to fine-tune the photoresistor sensitivity.

Office game show buzzer keeps things fair and square

The sales team in [Chuck’s] office is a pretty competitive bunch as you might expect, and they decided that they wanted a system which would allow them to challenge one another during their weekly meetings. The competition involves answering questions posed by their manager, but hand raising only works for so long – they needed a definitive way to tell who “buzzed in” to answer a question first.

Since [Chuck] only had a short bit of time and a tiny budget to work on, he opted to find the easiest solution to the problem, which was an Arduino-based game show buzzer system. The game display is built from an Arduino, some LEDs and an Altoids tin, while the buzzer pushbuttons were salvaged from an old radio broadcast console.

Now, when a question is posed, the salesman can buzz in to answer, knowing that only the quickest person’s button click will be registered. When it’s time for another question, the host simply clicks his buzzer to reset the console.

While it’s not quite as fancy as this game buzzer system we featured a while back, [Chuck] says it does the job perfectly and was cheap to boot.

Continue reading to see a short video of the office game buzzer system in action.

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Numerous quiz buttons built on the cheap

[Sprite_TM] was tapped to build a rather large quiz buzzer system. Judging from his past work we’re not surprised that he seemed to have no trouble fulfilling the request. As the system is not likely to be used again (or rarely if it is) he found a way to finish the project that was both quick and inexpensive.

Each buzzer consists of a base, a button (both mechanical and electrical), and a couple of LEDs to indicate who buzzed in first. The mechanical part of the button uses a plastic bowl from Ikea and a wooden dowel surrounded by some pipe insulation. A momentary push switch is glued on the top of that dowel, and the insulation projects above that just a bit. This way it acts as a spring. The Dowel has been sized so that the bowl lip will hit the wooden base just as it clicks the switch.

As you can see, all of the buzzers are interlinked using Ethernet cable. The real trick here is how to read 14 buttons using just one CAT5 cable. This is done with the clever use of a 4×4 button matrix for a total of 16 buttons. The matrix also includes the LEDs for each buzzer. Since CAT5 has four twisted pairs this works out perfectly.

Looking for a more robust system thank this? Here’s a pretty nice one.

Buzzer project for classroom team games

Want to host a Jeopardy tournament with your friends? Looking to add a bit more fairness to your school’s knowledge bowl? Perhaps you should build some buzz-in hardware of your own.

Here you can see [Matt Hanson’s] take on this idea. He used one Arduino to gather not just buzzer info, but also keypad data from four satellite controllers. Each has an RJ45 jack, allowing it to connect tot he base unit with an Ethernet patch cable. We like the color coding that [Matt] chose, which matches the color of the arcade button to the keystone jack on the base. And of course the fantastic look of the water-jet cut cases isn’t lost on us either.

You may wonder why he included a key pad on each controller? It looks like he and a few others worked together to develop a team-based math game for use in school.

Laser tripwire alarm system uses mirrors to increase coverage


Instructables user [EngineeringShock] has been hard at work building a laser trip wire security system, complete with a combination lock. The security system works just like you see in the movies, employing an array of mirrors to bounce the laser across an opening several times in order to secure the space.

A PIC18F1220 micro controller sits at the center of the alarm and handles the majority of its functions. It takes input from the laser detection circuit, triggers the buzzer, as well as arms and disarms the entire alarm system. An LS7222 digital lock handles the passcode verification side of things, taking input from a 16-button matrix keypad, and telling the PIC when the proper code has been entered.

As you can see in the video below, the alarm system works and the buzzer is quite loud. There is one small problem however – the alarm only arms itself after the proper code has been entered and the lights have been turned off. The light sensing circuit he uses is too sensitive and can only operate in darkness, though he discusses the ability to add a more accurate sensing solution.

If you are interested in reading more about laser tripwire security systems, check out this similar passcode-based system, this alarm system built into a toy, and this Arduino-based alarm system.

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Out Engineering a Sneaky Cat

Cats do what they want, which rarely coincides with what their owner wants them to do. In [Dumitru]’s case, his girlfriend’s cat [Pufu] tended to make it outside into the cold more often than desired. Rather than settle with the normal bell which gets obnoxious even when the cat isn’t misbehaving, he decided to put together a custom Cat Finding collar. He used a PIC microcontroller as the brains, and temperature and light sensors to decide whether the cat had snuck into the cold, dark night. Once the cat has been marked as being outside, a buzzer and LED are set to go off at regular intervals until returned into the safety of the indoors.

[Dumitru]’s website along with his YouTube videos are in Romanian, though the schematics and source code provided speak for themselves. He does a wonderful job walking through the entire design process, including time spend in the IDE as well as EAGLE designing the board. YouTube has managed to subtitle the majority of the details, but we imagine this post will be a real treat to any Romanian speaking hobbyists out there. Be sure to catch both videos after the break.

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