Building a flex sensor from component packing materials

Hacks like this one don’t help us recover from extreme pack-rat behavior. Driving home the point that one should never throw anything away [Peter] built a flex sensor from component packing material. It uses the black conductive foam in which integrated circuits are sometimes embedded for shipping. Above you can see the grey rectangle which is the sensor itself. in the background of the image, each component used in the build is labelled except for the tape.

The project starts with the foam being cut to the appropriate size and thickness. He does the same with some aluminum foil, then rips tape strips to act as the enclosure. Fine wire from some cable shielding serves as the two conductors for the sensor. He attaches each wire to an upturned piece of tape, followed by the foil, and finally the foam. When the two halves are assembled in the video after the break, [Peter] hooks up his multimeter to show the change in resistance as the sensor is bent.

We think it will take a clever calibration algorithm to get this working reliably, but it’s no more troublesome than the optical flex sensors we saw in this links post. [Read more...]

Grow your own fresh salad year round with this cheap hydroponic setup

With fall approaching you might think about moving your gardening inside. [Jared] used cheap and readily available materials to make these salad-green trays.  When used with his grow lights and tent (which he built during a different project) he was able go from seed to salad-bowl in just four weeks.

A pair of plastic storage bins act as the base, keeping the water right where it should be. Some holes cut into a piece of solid foam insulation holds a set of plastic pots in place, allowing the water to leech into the Rockwool that holds each plant in lieu of soil. To aerate the water [Jared] grabbed a cheap aquarium pump, splitting the output into several different branches. Each has its own check valve to ensure that a pump failure doesn’t let the water find its way out of the plastic tube. A set of bubble stones breaks up the output, helping to mix it with the water.

This isn’t quite as easy to pull off if you don’t already have a grow light. But you can always make it worth the investment if you decide to start next summer’s garden from seed. Or perhaps you can try to make your own using a varation of this shop lighting hack.

[Thanks Jayson]

Large magnets spark on Halloween, who knew?

This overly large magnet certainly completes the mad scientist look (for an even crazier look, take a jar of water with red food coloring and place in one large cauliflower, instant brain in a jar).

The base of the magnet is painted foam cut with a makeshift hot-knife; to get the magnet sparking [Macegr] laser etched acrylic with a fractal pattern and embedded LEDs in the ends of the acrylic. An Arduino handles the flashing LEDs and also produces a 60Hz PWM pulse for the spark’s hum. The end result is satisfyingly mad, and while practicing your evil ominous laugh catch a video of the magnet after the jump.

[Read more...]

(Real) Stargate built in backyard

PVC, wood, and some creativity bring this Stargate duplicate to life. [Mango] and his father started with AutoCad drawings taped together, and ended with the Stargate you see before you. Sure it’s not 22 foot in diameter and not made of Naquadah, but its inner ring rotates and dials like the real thing and it has all 39 symbols – hand carved. Catch a fun and entertaining video with the Stargate after the break.

[via SciFiWire]

[Read more...]

Build a foam machine

Spice up your next house party with this diy foam machine. [Stephen Martin] posted his PDF plans for version 1 and version 2 of the device. It seems the deciding factor on the machine is the type of fabric screen used to create the suds from a bubble bath liquid. This is the reason he’s got two versions. They share a lot of the same components (especially the expensive ones) but the first version is easy to swap out different fabrics and the second is a more permanent installation. In the end, we’re looking at a sump pump feeding foam to a fabric net that is attached to a blower. This will be a nice addition to that fog machine you built last fall.

Two input devices made with common items

Here’s two input devices you can easily build with materials you already have on hand.

To the left, [John] built a 3×3 keypad matrix from paper and tinfoil. The rows and columns are made up of strips of tin foil on the front and back layers of paper. The layers are separated by spongy double-stick tape. A ‘keypress’ results when the gap between the conductors is compressed with your finger.

In much the same way, [Dave Fletcher] built a touch potentiometer. He made two resistance plates by scribbling pencil lead on sheets of paper. When the two plates face each other, separated by the same type of foam tape as before, they can be pressed together to form a circuit with a variable resistance. This results in a crude version of the SparkFun softpot.

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