Project-based learning, hackathons, and final projects for college courses are fulfilling a demand for hands-on technical learning that had previously fallen by the wayside during the internet/multi-media computer euphoria of the late 90’s. By getting back to building actual hardware yourself, Hackers are influencing the direction of education. In this post we will review some of this progress and seek your input for where we go next.
A team of Cornell students have designed and built their own electronic boxing trainer system. The product of their work is a game similar to Whack-A-Mole. There are five square pads organized roughly into the shape of a human torso and head. Each pad will light up based on a pre-programmed pattern. When the pad lights up, it’s the player’s job to punch it! The game keeps track of the player’s accuracy as well as their reaction time.
The team was trying to keep their budget under $100, which meant that off the shelf components would be too costly. To remedy this, they designed their own force sensors. The sensors are basically a sandwich of a few different materials. In the center is a 10″ by 10″ square of ESD foam. Pressed against it is a 1/2″ thick sheet of insulating foam rubber. This foam rubber sheet has 1/4″ slits cut into it, resulting in something that looks like jail bars. Sandwiching these two pieces of foam is fine aluminum window screen. Copper wire is fixed the screen using conductive glue. Finally, the whole thing is sandwiched between flattened pieces of corrugated cardboard to protect the screen.
The sensors are mounted flat against a wall. When a user punches a sensor, it compresses. This compression causes the resistance between the two pieces of aluminum screen to change. The resistance can be measured to detect a hit. The students found that if the sensor is hit harder, more surface area becomes compressed. This results in a greater change in resistance and can then be measured as a more powerful hit. Unfortunately it would need to be calibrated depending on what is hitting the sensor, since the size of the hitter can throw off calibration.
Each sensor pad is surrounded by a strip of LEDs. The LEDs light up to indicate which pad the user is supposed to hit. Everything is controlled by an ATMEGA 1284p microcontroller. This is the latest in a string of student projects to come out of Cornell. Make sure to watch the demonstration video below. Continue reading “Boxing Trainer Uses DIY Force Sensors”
[Connor] was working on a project for his college manufacturing class when he came up with the idea for this sleek desk lamp. As a college student, he’s not fond of having his papers glowing brightly in front of him at night. This lamp takes care of the problem by adjusting the color temperature based on the position of the sun. It also contains a capacitive touch sensor to adjust the brightness without the need for buttons with moving parts.
The base is made from two sheets of aluminum and a bar of aluminum. These were cut and milled to the final shape. [Connor] found a nice DC barrel jack from Jameco that fits nicely with this design. The head of the lamp was made from another piece of aluminum bar stock. All of the aluminum pieces are held together with brass screws.
A slot was milled out of the bottom of the head-piece to make room for an LED strip and a piece of 1/8″ acrylic. This piece of acrylic acts as a light diffuser. Another piece of acrylic was cut and added to the bottom of the base of the lamp. This makes for a nice glowing outline around the bottom that gives it an almost futuristic look.
The capacitive touch sensor is a pretty simple circuit. [Connor] used the Arduino capacitive touch sensor library to make his life a bit easier. The electronic circuit really only requires a single resistor between two Arduino pins. One of the pins is also attached to the aluminum body of the lamp. Now simply touching the lamp body allows [Connor] to adjust the brightness of the lamp.
[Connor] ended up using an Electric Imp to track the sun. The Imp uses the wunderground API to connect to the weather site and track the sun’s location. In the earlier parts of the day, the LED colors are cooler and have more blues. In the evening when the sun is setting or has already set, the lights turn more red and warm. This is easier on the eyes when you are hunched over your desk studying for your next exam. The end result is not only functional, but also looks like something you might find at that fancy gadget store in your local shopping mall.
We’ve been busy contacting design tech and electrical engineering education departments to tell them about The Hackaday Prize, but there are only so many of us and we could do with your help to get the word out.
Are you excited about The Hackaday Prize? Do you think more people at your school should know about it so they can take part? Either way, please help us help them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what program coordinators, student group, or other people we should contact. If appropriate, we have a bunch of promotional materials we would like to send out to some of these awesome hackers.
You can also help us by telling your hacker designer friends, posting about The Hackaday Prize on college social media (#TheHackadayPrize), or letting the student newspaper know. We want to get as many universities, colleges and high schools involved as possible. Many senior year project ideas would make great starting points for THP entries, and we want to make sure students take up this opportunity to show off what they can do (and hopefully win some stuff in the process). This makes a great summer project, and looks great when applying for colleges or jobs in the future.
Remember you have until August to get your entry in, but the sooner you post it on Hackaday Projects, the sooner you can potentially start winning rewards. We have hundreds of tshirts, stickers, patches, posters and other swag up for grabs on the way to winning The Hackaday Prize.
It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing colors, it’s getting colder outside, and all the littler hackers are off to college. Which means we get to see an influx of dorm room locks and openers.
[Adam] is back at it again with a new keypad dorm room lock. Last year he had an exceptional setup using a car keyfob, so we’re a little curious as to why he would revert to such a low level system as a keypad that isn’t even color coded.
Perhaps its in his “new” way of presenting the hack. Rather than a blog or write up, he documents the entire most of the process in a little less than 20 YouTube videos. Watch him testing out the system after the jump.