A Real Star Trek Communicator Badge

Star Trek has never let technology get in the way of a good story. Gene Roddenberry and the writers of the show thought up some amazing gadgets, from transporters to replicators to the warp core itself. Star Trek: The Next Generation brought us the iconic communicator badge. In 1987, a long-range radio device which could fit in a pin was science fiction. [Joe] is bringing these badges a bit closer to the real world with his entry in the 2017 Hackaday Sci-Fi Contest.

trek-thumbThe first problem [Joe] dealt with was finding a radio which could run from watch batteries, and provide decently long-range operations. He chose the HopeRF RFM69HCW. Bringing fiction a bit closer to reality, this module has been used for orbital communications with low-cost satellites.

The Badge’s processor is a Teensy LC. [Joe] is rolling his own Teensy, which means using bootloader chips from PJRC, as well as the main microcontroller. Kicking the main micro into operation is where [Joe] is stuck right now. Somewhere between the breadboard and the first spin of the surface mount PCB things went a bit sideways. The oscillators are running, but there are no USB communications. [Joe] is trying another board spin. He made a few improvements and already has new boards on the way. Switching to a toaster oven or skillet paste and solder setup would definitely help him get the new badges up and running.

Fallout Inspired Cellphone Wristwatch

[Mr. Volt] mentions that some of the commenters on his videos believed that he shouldn’t be making large, retro computer themed communicator watches. He believes they are wrong, naturally we are compelled to agree with him.

thrumbzIn his latest build he has produced a rather well-built and large cell-phone watch. After the untimely death of an Apple II cellphone watch, he decided to up his game and make one that could take more of a beating. The case is 3D printed, which is hard to believe given the good finish. He must have spent a long time sanding the prints. Some wood veneer for looks and aluminum panels for strength complete the assembly.

The electronics are a Teensy and a GSM module. It looks like he places calls by calling the operator since the wrist communicator only has four inputs: a red button, a blue button, and a momentary switch rotary encoder.

The communicator appears to work really smoothly, and it would certainly draw attention to him were he to wear it anywhere other than the Wasteland. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Fallout Inspired Cellphone Wristwatch”

Green Light Go, Red Light Come Back Later

Depending on your taste for social interaction and tolerance for distraction, an open floor plan or “bullpen” office might not be so bad with a total of four people. Hackaday.io user [fiddlythings] likes it, but people often stop by to see him or one of his coworkers only to find them busy or absent. While their status is something they could plainly see in Microsoft Communicator from their own desk, some people like to chat in person or stop by on their way to and from meetings.

In order to save these visitors a few seconds, [fiddlythings] came up with an IM status indicator using their existing nameplates outside the door. Each of their names has a little silver dot by it which he backlit with a flattish RGB LED. These LEDs are driven by a Raspberry Pi and NPN transistors through a ribbon cable.

The plan was to imitate the Communicator status colors of green for available, red for busy, and yellow for away. [fiddlythings] dialed up a lovely shade of amber for away using a mix of red and green. Since he really only needs two colors, he’s using eight NPN transistors instead of twelve. The quick ‘n dirty proof of concept version used Python and a Pidgin IM console client called Finch. Once he got IT’s blessing, he implemented the final version in C++ using Libpurple to interface with Communicator.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Pi used to indicate status—remember this mobile hackerspace indicator?