Inside The Clapper

clapper

Hackaday readers above a certain age will probably remember the fabulously faddish products developed by Joseph Enterprises. These odd gadgets included the Ove’ Glove, VCR Co-Pilot, the Creosote Sweeping Log, and Chia Pet (Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia) as mainstays of late night commercials, but none were as popular as The Clapper, everyone’s favorite sound-activated switch from the 1980s. [Richard] put up a great virtual teardown of The Clapper, that provides a lot of insight into how this magic relay box actually works, along with some historical context for the world The Clapper was introduced to.

Sound activated switches are nothing new, but the way The Clapper did it was just slightly brilliant. Instead of listening to every sound, the mic inside the magic box sends everything through a series of filters to come up with a very narrow bandpass filter centered around 2500 Hz. This trigger is analyzed by a SGS Thompson ST6210 microcontroller ( 4MHz, ~1kB ROM, 64 bytes of RAM, and 12 I/O pins ) to listen for two repeating triggers  within 200 milliseconds. The entire system – including the source code for the MCU – can be seen in the official patent, US5493618.

The Clapper sold many millions of units at a time when a lot of homes were assuredly in a pre-microelectronics world. Yes, in 1986, a lot of TVs had microcontrollers and maybe a washer/dryer combo may have had a few thousand transistors between them. Other than that, The Clapper was many household’s introduction to the ubiquitous computing power we see today, and all with less capability than an Arduino.

LED matrix shield starts with a very loud snap

We see a lot of LED matrix projects. They’re fun, and you can learn a lot of basic lessons during the build. But this one is out of the ordinary. [Rtty21] built an oddly sized, and sound controlled matrix shield for his Arduino. That’s it right there, the shield is the large chunk of protoboard but you can just see the Arduino peeking up over the top of it.

Now we say oddly sized because a 9×9 matrix doesn’t make much sense with an 8-bit micro controller. There’s no schematic but in the clip after the break he mentions that the columns and rows are driven by a decade counter and shift register and that’s what makes it possible to drive nine bits easily. Also of note on the board is that washer above and to the right of the matrix. It’s a touch-sensitive reset button. But the main control mechanism is a Clapper clone circuit. Just snap your fingers and it turns the project on or off. [Rtty21] based the design on this step-by-step sound input build.

[Read more...]

Reinventing The Clapper with a knock-based home automation controller

Clap On!… Clap Off!… was super awesome when The Clapper came out in the mid-eighties. Now [Mathieu Stephan] is trying to make the concept much more functional. He put together a controller that lets you knoch on walls to control things around the house. It’s called the Toktoktok project and uses small boxes to receive user input and control items like lamps and computers.

A piezo element picks up the noises made by a user. Above [Mathieu] demonstrates how sensitive the element is, picking up scratching and knocking anywhere along this wall and displaying it as a waveform on the computer monitor. Clever processing and filtering of these noises lets the device convert them into different commands. He covers all of this in the video after the break, then demonstrates a bunch of functionality such as waking up and starting audio playback from a computer just by tapping on the coffee table.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the concept. One of our favorites is this door lock which listens for the secret knock. But [Mathieu] is trying to extend the functionality and bring it to a more general market. [Read more...]

DIY dimmable clapper for all your lazy lighting needs

For the lazy man who can’t be bothered to buy a proper wattage lamp here’s the Clever Clapper, a Clapper that finally has the ability to dim the lights.

Like the clapper we saw last month, [Pete]‘s version uses an ATtiny2313 and an electret mic. What sets [Pete]‘s version apart from the vintage 80s model is the ability to dim the lights. Like any clapper, two hand claps within a second toggles the relay. Clapping three times within one second puts the lamp into fading mode. In this mode, the lights dim up and down with PWM until a fourth clap is detected.

[Pete] saw that the program memory in his ATtiny2313 wasn’t 100% full, so he added a few more capabilities. If you shine a laser onto his circuit, a relay trips and turns on a decorative moon lamp. There’s also a ‘lecture mode’ that feeds the microphone directly into the microcontroller to vary the PWM signal. The result is a light that brightens with more intense sound. Check that feature out after the break after the demo video of [Pete]‘s Clever Clapper.

[Read more...]

DIY clapper is the ideal gift for the laziest person in your life

diy-clapper

If you haven’t yet wrapped up your Christmas shopping, you may want to consider building [AlanFromJapan’s] implementation of the ever-classic “Clapper”. With its theme song burned into the brain of anyone old enough to remember the 80s, the clapper was a wonderful device that certainly put the “L” in laziness.

Looking for an excuse to play around with an opamp and microphone [Alan] decided to build his own version of the Clapper based off this similar circuit, which he calls the ClapClap. He built the device using an electret mic that feeds a signal through a small amplifier on the way to the ADC of an ATmega328 microcontroller. The mcu constantly polls the ADC looking for the sound of clapping hands, a solution that works, but isn’t as clean as [Alan] wanted.

He went back to the drawing board, this time building a circuit around an ATtiny2313 microcontroller. Most of the other components remained the same, though the new, smaller design sports some nice PCBs he had made at Seeedstudio. Rather than constantly polling the ADC, this version of the ClapClap looks for peaks in the signal coming from the mic to identify the clapping of hands.

He says that the newer version works great, though he still has a software bug or two that need fixing before he parks himself on the couch for all eternity.

DIY Clapper

[Patrick's] latest Instructable walks us though making a clap clap on / clap clap off type of switching circuit, similar in use to that sometimes popular commercial product seen on TV. He does this by using a standard electret microphone, half of an LM324 op amp, a voltage comparator and a PIC micro controller.

The operation of the device is as simple as its wiring, the microphone picks up sound and produces a signal, that signal is stripped of its DC component and fed into the op amp, after 2 stages of amplification the signal passes though a voltage comparator, and if the sound was loud enough a timer is triggered on the pic. Two claps within the specified amount of time, the micro then switches on a relay which can toggle your outside appliance (keeping the load in mind).

On the last page [Patrick] also gives a rough outline of how to make a single clap on / off variant using a 555 timer and some flip flops. Join us for a quick video after the break, and be sure to check this one out.

[Read more...]

If you’re photographing and you know it clap your hands

If you’ve ever tried to take pictures of yourself you’ll know that it can be a pain. It’s especially hard to get that perfect shot of your godly features when you’re out of breath from sprinting across the room. OK, yes, they have remote controls for that. But what if you lost your remote or you just don’t want to have to carry it? [LucidScience] put together a sweet, um, “hands free” alternative.

Essentially this hack emulates the IR signals sent by a Nikon remote, either to take a picture right away or to take time lapse photographs at regular intervals. We’ve seen a similar time lapse remote using an arduino before and a really thorough one using an AVR, but they don’t take the same approach as [LucidScience]‘s design in terms of monitoring a microphone input for triggering. The project includes several status LEDs and adjustments for ambient noise and triggering, and it can be mounted to the camera body. We wonder how many of the Nikon’s features could be controlled using clap encoding, and how detailed your timing would need to be to have a kind of hand-made (get it?) pulsetrain syntax.  You’d probably need to have world record clap skills.

Check out the demo vid after the break.

[Read more...]

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