Build an elevator controller, gain a friend for life


[Michael Ruppe] was working one day when a man named [Kevin] approached him for a bit of help with a project. It just so happened that [Kevin] was in the middle of constructing a DIY residential elevator and he needed assistance putting a control board together.

[Kevin] had no problem casting a forklift ram into his basement slab, nor installing a submersible pump in a custom-made hydraulic pit, but wiring up the controls for the device was just not something he was comfortable with. [Michael] was more than happy to lend a hand, and over the next couple of months the pair got things running nicely.

Instead of relying on a microcontroller, [Michael] built a control board that uses little more than a handful of relays and microswitches to get the job done – It’s certainly not hard to appreciate the controller’s simplicity.

It’s stories like these that remind us just how much the hacker community is willing to help out complete strangers with any task, big or small – you guys rock!

Stick around to see a short demo video [Michael] shot, showing the elevator in action.

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Cheap DIY tilt switches are great in a pinch


[fjordcarver] was looking for some mercury-free tilt switches that wouldn’t break the bank and that were easy to build. He also wanted something cheap, so instead of buying some tilt switches he devised his own that fit all of the criteria he set out. Now, these switches are not your typical fare, and they’re not small either. They are however, cheap, effective, and easy to manipulate/repair.

He picked up a package of metallic craft beads at the store and emptied out two bottles, saving one set of beads that happened to be conductive, i.e. not coated with paint or coloring. The beads were split between two jars, which were then sealed with corks that had a pair of straightened paperclips inserted through them. The bottles were oriented facing away from one another, then attached together with a piece of house wire. One of the leads from each jar was attached to this common wire, while the others were extended with hook up wire for use in the circuit he was building. Pictures definitely explain the mechanism far better than words can, so be sure to check out his tutorial to get a better look at them.

While they might look a bit rough, he says they work great, so give them a try if you have the need.

Cheap DIY laser scanner is quite impressive


With the introduction of the Kinect, obtaining a 3D representation of a room or object became a much easier task than it had been in the past. If you lack the necessary cash for one however, you have to get creative. Both the techniques and technologies behind 3D scanning are somewhat complicated, though certainly still within reach as maker [Shikai Chen] shows us. (Google Translation)

He wanted to create 3D scanned images, but he didn’t have the resources to purchase a Kinect. Instead, he built his own scanner for about 1/6th the cost. Interestingly enough, the scanner resembles what you might imagine a very early Kinect prototype looked like, though it functions just a little bit differently than Microsoft’s creation. The scanner lacks any sort of IR emitter/camera combo, opting to use a laser and a USB VGA camera instead. While scanning, the laser shines across the target surface, and the reflected light is then picked up by the camera.

So how does this $25 DIY laser scanner measure up? Great, to be honest. Check out the video below to see how well his scanner works, and be sure to take a look through his second writeup (Google Translation) as well for more details on the project.

[via Seeedstudio]

Make your own spray paint cans

[Mikeasaurus] found a way to build his own refillable spraypaint canister. The donor vessel used here is a plastic soda bottle. It’s a great choice since it is engineered to house a pressurized liquid and you can find them for free by intercepting a satisfied soda consumer before they reach the recycling bin.

He repurposed the spray nozzle from a commercial spray paint can. By first releasing all of the pressure from the empty paint he could then use a hack saw to remove the top disk. He used Sugru to attach it to the bottle cap which has a hole drilled in the center to accept the feed straw. We wonder if there wouldn’t be a better way to attach this from the inside of the cap for better resistance to bottle pressure?

The final piece of hardware is a Shrader valve from a bicycle inner tube. This lets you pump up the pressure in the bottle. You’ll need to dilute the paint you use to make it sprayer-friendly. [Mikeasaurus] diluted his six to one which might have been a bit too much judging from the drips seen in the video after the break.

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A DIY audio player for when all that matters is the music


[Grissini] hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to personal audio players. He estimates that he’s gone through about half a dozen iProducts/iKnockoffs over the years, which ultimately adds up to a lot of money poured right down the drain. Rather than lay down his cold hard cash for yet another music player that would succumb to a dead battery or cracked screen, [Grissini] decided that he would be better off if he built one himself.

His Orange mePod isn’t exactly the most attractive or sleekest music player out there, but [Grissini] says it works like a charm. An Arduino Uno powers the device, and he uses an Adafruit Wave Shield to handle the audio playback. Power is supplied via 4AA batteries which keep the tunes going for a reasonable amount of time, and afford him the ability to swap them out for recharging without much fuss.

The player was encased with some leftover cardboard and wrapped in bright orange duct tape, before being mounted on [Grissini’s] belt. He says he gets plenty of looks when he’s out and about, which you would expect from such a unique design.

Stick around to see a quick video of the audio player in action.

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$150 CNC mill is a tad slow but very solid


Like just about everyone else out there, [Adam] thinks that CNC machines are pretty cool – so cool that he decided to build one of his own from scratch.

The CNC machine was constructed mostly out of MDF and scrap wood, with drawer slides used for smooth gantry movement. An off-brand rotary tool was used to do the actual cutting, and [Adam] picked up a few Sparkfun stepper motors to drive the machine.

The assembly was completed without too much trouble, but [Adam] says that programming the mill was a long and frustrating process. Cutting was rough and not very accurate at first, but little by little he got things working pretty well. As you can see in the video below, while the cuts look great, improvement came at the expense of speed. He says that the machine could use a redesign to speed it up, which he’ll get around to if some free time comes his way.

It’s not the absolute cheapest CNC build we’ve seen, it’s pretty darn close. With a few tweaks, it could definitely be a solid budget-friendly contender.

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DIY spot welder can join anything together, even copper


Hackaday reader [David] was looking for a cheap and easy way to spot weld copper tabs together. As he notes in his writeup, the properties of copper which are most enticing, such as high thermal capacity, make welding it all that more difficult. His home-brew method of spot welding is admittedly quick and dirty, but it does get the job done quite well.

He started off with an array of four 2.5V @ 2600 Farad ultra capacitors, which provide the high current required to do copper spot welding properly. They are wired in series and connected to his electrodes using heavy gauge wire. The graphite-tipped electrodes were an interesting DIY job themselves, cleverly constructed using copper tubing and a graphite block. The most simple/dangerous/clever part of the whole rig is his trigger mechanism, which consists of a pair of copper blocks that he bangs together manually to complete the circuit.

[David] is well aware that the setup is just a touch rough, but according to him it makes great welds, and it’s only a proof of concept at this point. He has a hefty list of improvements to make for the final version, including a different switching method among a few other safety precautions.


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