Over engineering windshield wipers to sync to music

In the late 90s, Volkswagen aired a series of awesome television advertisements that won a few awards relevant to those in advertising circles. One of these ads was titled Synchronicity and showed a VW Jetta’s windshield wipers (among other things) syncing to music as the car drove down a rainy alley. [ch00f] thought beat tracking wipers would make for a great project, and we love the sheer amount of engineering that went into this build.

The build began with [ch00f] taking apart his wiper motor to get some specifics for his build. Ideally, a rotary encoder would be very useful for this project, but designing a durable encoder would be a pain anyway. [ch00f] had to settle with the ‘parking pins’ on the wiper gear motor that allow the wipers to be driven in intermittent mode.

[ch00f] spent a great deal of time writing code that would guarantee a constant wiper speed, but that didn’t solve the problem of phase, or having the wipers begin or end their cycle on the beat. This problem was somewhat solved (as you can see in the video after the break) by using a feed forward system – basically, the software would predict the change in phase needed and correct it by changing the speed.

The build still isn’t perfect, although that’s mainly due to the placement of wiper parking switch on the wiper motor. [ch00f] plans on spending a little more time correcting the wiper speed/phase control with software, but what he’s got now is still very impressive.

[Read more...]

Relighting a gauge cluster

When a few lights in the dashboard of  [Garrett]‘s truck burned out, he was looking at a hefty repair bill. The repair shop would have to replace the huge PCB to change a few soldered light bulbs, so he was looking at a $500 repair bill. Lighting up a LED is everyone’s first project, so [Garrett] decided to change out the bulbs with LEDs and save a few dollars.

The repair was very simple – after removing the dials and needles, [Garrett] found a huge PCB with a few burnt out bulbs on board. He took a multimeter to each bulb’s solder pad and replaced each one with an LED and resistor. The finished project looks like it came out of a factory and is a huge improvement over the ugly amber bulbs originally found in his truck.  [Garrett] also posted a nice Instructable of his build showing the nicely soldered lamp replacements.

SMS remote start gives new life to your old smartphone

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Hack a Day alum [Will O’Brien] recently upgraded his phone, and was trying to find a use for his old one. He always wanted a remote starter for his Subaru Outback, but wasn’t interested in paying for an off the shelf kit. Since he had this old smartphone kicking around, he thought that it would be the perfect starting point for an SMS-triggered remote start system.

He started off by jailbreaking his phone, which allows him to run some Perl scripts that are used to listen for incoming texts. Using a PodBreakout mini from Sparkfun he connected the phone to an Arduino, which is responsible for triggering the car’s ignition. Now, a simple text message containing the start command and a password can start his car from a anywhere in the world.

While [Will] is quite happy with his setup he already has improvements in mind, including a way for the Arduino to send a message back to him via SMS confirming that the car has been successfully started. He’s thinking about putting together a kit for others looking to add the same functionality to their own car, so be sure to check his site periodically for project updates.

Build your own miniature self parking car

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[Achu Wilson] was watching TV when he saw an ad for Volkswagen’s latest Passat, which happens to come equipped with a park assist mode. This essentially allows the car to park itself with little to no user interaction. While these systems come as a pricey add-on option, he figured he could build something similar in his own home, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Digging through his parts bin he only came across a single infrared proximity sensor, so instead of building vehicle that could parallel park, he settled on constructing one that can situate itself in a traditional parking spot instead. The car is built from wood and a pair of DC motors [Achu] had on hand, both of which are controlled using an ATmega16.

As a proof of concept, it looks to work pretty well despite the fact that it only has a single fixed sensor navigate its surroundings. We imagine it would be a relatively easy task to adapt the system for parallel parking, among other things.

Continue reading to see [Achu's] self-parking car in action.

[Read more...]

Rear window LED display gives other drivers a piece of your mind

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[Gagandeep] was sick and tired of discourteous drivers on the highway, so he decided that he would put together a display to let them know what he thought of their poor driving skills. He planned on putting the display up in the rear window of his car, so he had to ensure that it did not obstruct his view while driving.

He decided that an LED matrix would be the best way for displaying images and text while on the go, so he got busy constructing a 40×16 mesh grid for his rear window. Using a wooden template to get the spacing and positioning just right, he spent several days soldering the 600+ LEDs to one another. He used 74HC595 shift registers to manage the LEDs in groups of 5 columns, while an ATmega AT89C51 was tasked with generating the text and images to be displayed. All of the ICs were deadbugged in place, helping achieve [Gagandeep’s] desire of keeping his view unobstructed.

While we’re not well-versed on the legality of such a display, it looks great when animated. There are plenty of pictures of the grid in various stages of construction as well as videos of it in action in his Picasa album, so be sure to check them out. If you are looking for code or Eagle files, you can find those here.

Engine Hacks: Electrified Datsun is the ultimate engine swap

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Forget the Tesla Roadster, we want an electric car like [John Wayland’s] White Zombie!

If it wasn’t plastered with sponsor stickers and the like, you would never realize that this otherwise unassuming ‘72 Datsun 1200 is an absolute beast of a car. The gas engine that used to provide a mere 69 horsepower was swapped out for a pair of custom-built electric motors which propel the Datsun to 60 miles per hour in under two seconds.

The electric motors supply 500 horsepower and a staggering 1250 foot pounds of instant torque, providing one hell of a ride. The car is powered by 12 custom 29.6V battery packs which provide 2,400 Amps of current each! Aside from laying down a quarter mile in under 11 seconds, White Zombie can make a 90 mile trek before requiring a recharge.

Needless to say, this impressive car takes plenty of people by surprise each time [John] hits the track. Continue reading to watch one poor sap learn the hard way that his brand new Maserati is no match for White Zombie.

[via Discovery]

[Read more...]

Maker Faire KC 2011: In Photos (Part 2)

Be sure to check out Part 1 of the KC Maker Faire photo series. In this post, we explore some of the big hitters of the show, including crowd favorites ArcAttack, as well as battling robots. Read on to see the wonders!

[Read more...]

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