There are few things more frustrating than being in the middle of working on a project and realizing that you are missing some crucial component that ties the whole thing together. According to Murphy’s Law, this sort of thing will only happen when parts are completely impossible to procure.
If you’re ever hunting for a touch sensor but can’t get your hands on one, [Alan Chatham’s] tutorial on simple DIY capacitive touch sensors might be just what you need to keep things moving along.
[Alan’s] sensors rely on the conductive properties of graphite, which is easily found in just about any pencil on the market. The sensors are created by simply drawing on a piece of paper with a pencil, then wiring the images or text up to your favorite microcontroller via some paperclips and a couple of resistors.
Paper and pencil might not make for the most durable means of input, but we’re pretty sure that [Alan’s] capacitive touch sensors would be very helpful in a pinch. He doesn’t have video of the sensors in action just yet, though he says he’ll put something together here shortly.
This year at the CHI conference in Austin, [Munehiko Sato], [Ivan Poupyrev], and [Chris Harrison] out of the Disney research lab in Pittsburgh demonstrated their way to make touch sensors out of anything. Not only to they suggest using the surface of your skin to control cell phones and MP3 players, they’re also able to recognize touch gestures, like poking or grasping an object. That sounds a little heady, so check out the video of the Touché tech in action.
Like the capacitive touch sensors in our phones and tablets, Touché measures the rise and fall of a capacitor’s charge over time. Unlike other touch sensors, Touché scans the capacitor at different rates, allowing for a ‘capacitive profile’ that is used to recognized touch gestures.
The applications for this tech are nearly innumerable; the team demonstrated scolding someone for eating cereal with chopsticks (yeah, we know…), an on-body music player interface, and gestures for an office doorknob that notifies passersby if you’ve stepped out for a minute or are gone for the day.
It’s a very interesting build, and we give it two weeks until someone replicates this build. We’ll be sure to post it then.
Continue reading “Turning anything into a touch sensor”
[Matt Keeter] wanted to take his music on the go, and wrote in to share a great looking boombox he built for under $100. His goal was to put something together that could be made in pretty much any hackerspace/fab lab, so his boombox was made using simple materials.
He first modeled the boombox using cardboard, later fabbing it from wood on a laser cutter. The design allows the stereo to be snapped together, though [Matt] says that some joints were glued as an extra precaution. Inside the boombox resides an custom PCB he built which incorporates an ATmega328, an MP3 decoder, and an SD card to store his music.
One feature we really like is the control scheme [Matt] built into the boombox. Each of the capacitive touch buttons are positioned on top of a copper pad, which are wired into the control board. He says that while good in theory, he had a difficult time getting the buttons to work properly, though they seem to do the job well enough.
If you’re looking for a portable music solution and have access to a laser cutter, be sure to check out [Matt’s] page for schematics and firmware.
[Dave] just can’t seem to get enough of modifying his new car. Where he lives, it’s typically dark on his ride home from work and he finds himself dropping things on the floor of his car all too often. Nissan decided not to include lighting in the Juke’s foot well or glove box, so [Dave] decided that he needed to rectify the situation.
As you might have noticed by his previous tinkering, [Dave] is a big fan of LEDs and ATTiny microcontrollers. He added some Lego-supported LEDs to the driver and passenger side foot wells, installing an additional light in the glove box while he was at it.
The Juke had a couple of usable blank spots on the dashboard, so [Dave] installed a pair of capacitive touch sensors and a small switch into one of the open slots. When touched, the top-most capacitive pin pair ramps up the foot well lights, while the lower pair turns on the LEDs in the glove box. The switch at the bottom is used to toggle on a light in the back seat which he installed a while back.
It’s a simple addition, but it makes all the difference when he is hunting around on the floor in the dark. We are a bit surprised by how many amenities are missing from the Juke, but tweaking them to his liking seems to keep [Dave] happily occupied.
Continue reading to see a short demo video of his interior lights in action.
Continue reading “DIY car lighting illuminates areas the designers overlooked”
Hackaday reader [Michael] wrote in to share the build details of an impressive lighting console he has been working on for some time. He says that the 36+ channel console is on par with lighting rigs costing upwards of $5,000, but his was constructed for just around $1,000 – quite the substantial savings.
The console was constructed around an old IBM desktop computer, which handles all of the DMX output as well as preset management. An array of 20 ATMega 328Ps running the Arduino bootloader are scattered throughout the device, 18 of which are used to manage the six fader panels, while the remaining two handle management tasks. Aside from the fader banks, the console features a main control board featuring several LCD screens along with 17 capacitive touch buttons used for menu navigation and console control.
While [Michael] is finished building the board, he has just begun the documentation of the construction process. His blog should be updated regularly with more details, so be sure to check back often. Code, as well as hopefully tons of pictures and videos are all forthcoming.
[Edit: Cost comparison update]
Since he was a kid [Giorgos Lazaridis] has always loved the idea of having an electronic door locking mechanism, and now that he has the means, he’s decided to construct one for securing the door to his apartment. He calls the project “simple and cheap”, though we’re not sure about the first part. Taking a look at his very detailed build log, you can see that he has invested quite a bit of time and effort into this impressive project.
Buying an off the shelf product was expensive and not a whole lot of fun, so [Giorgos] disassembled his door’s locking mechanism to see how he might be able to actuate the lock electronically himself. With minimal modifications to the lock, he was able to add a servo which reliably opens the it when triggered.
With the mechanical portion of the project out of the way, he spent a great deal of time working on the door’s electronic components, including the PIC-based controller and capacitive keypad. The keypad proved to be a bit of a problem, but after a few revisions he found a design that was both reliable and pleasing to the eye.
The locking mechanism works pretty well, as you can see in the video below, and [Giorgos] is quite pleased with the results.
Continue reading “DIY servo activated door lock with capacitive touch keypad”