Path to Craftsmanship: The Art of Throwing It Away

Some hackers build sharp, mildly toxic nests of parts, components, and thrifty finds around themselves. These nests, while not comfortable, are certainly comforting. They allow the hacker’s psyche to inhabit a locale as chaotic as their minds. Within these walls of stuff and clutter, stunning hacks pour out amid a small cloud of cursing. This article is not for them.
Very few of us can actually function in a workplace such like that of the venerable Jim Williams (photo from linked article). Thanks to the commenters for mentioning him in the previous article.

For the rest of us, clutter is a Zen destroying, seemingly unconquerable, monster that taunts our poor discipline and organizational skill from the dark corner of our minds. However, there is an easy solution that is oft overlooked. Somewhat obviously, most organization problems can be solved by simply not having things to organize.

It’s taken me a very long time to realize the source of my clutter woes. My first tactic was to blame myself for my inability to keep up with the mess. A more superior human would certainly be able to use their effortless discipline to keep a space organized. However, the clutter was a symptom of a problem completely separate from my actual ability to keep a space clean.

Continue reading “Path to Craftsmanship: The Art of Throwing It Away”

Fingerprint Garage Door Won’t Open Every Time A Neighbor Microwaves a Burrito

With three kids, including himself, [Dave] faced the very real likelihood of someone absent-mindedly leaving the garage door open and being robbed blind. Rather than installing some plebeian solution, he compiled a feature list. And what a feature list it is!

The garage door needed to notify him of its status with strategically placed LEDs around the house, and give him full control on his devices. He wanted to open and close it using his existing key-code entry system. Lastly, it would be extra-cool if he could add some biometrics to it; in this case, a fingerprint sensor.

The core hardware is the staple Arduino augmented with a fingerprint module, a touch screen, some vitamins, and a WiFi break-out. He also worked up some casings in tinkercad: one for the indoor hardware, another with a flip cover for the outdoor fingerprint scanner.

We think [Dave] has accomplished what he set out to. We can just picture the would-be-thief staring at the finger print scanner and moving their operation one house over where the world is simpler. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Fingerprint Garage Door Won’t Open Every Time A Neighbor Microwaves a Burrito”

A CNC Build Log From The Not So Distant Past

2007 wasn’t that long ago, but [Adam Ziegler’s] build log is, nevertheless, a pleasant romp through a not so distant past. From beginning to the end of the build, we enjoyed reading [Adam]’s progress and struggles as he worked through the build. Sometimes it’s hard to see the very normal daily work that goes into a project when it’s all polished up at the end.

He designed the mechanics himself, but after some less-successful attempts, decided to just buy the electronics. The machine is a well executed MDF gantry mill with conduit rails and 6000-series ball bearings on angle stock. It’s a good example of what you can do with cheap materials and careful planning.

[Adam] ran a few jobs on the machine, some of which he took on before it was even built (which he doesn’t recommend doing). After his adventure with this gateway machine, he’s put it up for sale and is purportedly working on a new model. The standard pattern of CNC addiction is a live alive and well.

If you’re looking to get into CNC machining on the cheap, we’ve seen similar affordable builds for your inspiration.

Indicator for Forgetful-Minded Garage Door Users

[Gareth] had a friend who regularly forgot to close his garage door after parking his car and heading inside. Since [Gareth] was familiar with basic electronics and an overall good pal, he offered to make a device that would indicate whether the garage door was open or not.

The project starts off simple with an Arduino and ultrasonic distance sensor. Both are mounted to the ceiling of the garage with the ultrasonic sensor pointed down. When the garage door is open, the sensor outputs a shorter distance measurement than when the garage door is closed.

Now that the system knows when the door is open or closed, the next part was sending a signal inside the house. He could have run a wire up through the house walls to an LED indicator but decided to go wireless with a 433mhz transmitter. There is a second Arduino inside equipped with a 433mhz receiver. When the garage door is open, the Arduino inside the house flashes an LED reminding the forgetful occupant to close the door.

[Gareth] made all his code for both the sensor/transmitter and the receiver available on his site for anyone interested in making something similar.

Another Garage Door Opener, This Time With Security

We’ve been seeing a lot of garage door opener hacks, whether it’s because one person inspired everyone else to build their own Internet-connected GDO or because there’s something in the water that’s caused the simultaneous building of one specific type of project, we’re not sure. However, the latest one we’ve seen adds a little something extra: motion-based security.

[DeckerEgo] really went all out with this one, too. The core of the project is a Raspberry Pi hardwired to a universal garage door remote. The Pi also handles a small webcam and runs a program called motion, which is a Linux program that allows for all kinds of webcam fun including motion detection. While the other builds we see usually use a button or limit switch to tell whether the door is open or closed, this one just watches the door with the webcam so [DeckerEgo] can actually see what’s going on in the garage. As a bonus, the motion software can be configured to alert him if anything suspicious is going on in the garage.

The build is full-featured as well, with an interesting user interface overlaid on the live picture of the garage door. According to [DeckerEgo] the camera is a necessity because he wouldn’t trust a simple status indicator, but if you wanted to try one of those before breaking out the Raspberry Pi, we’ve featured one recently that you can check out.

A Raspberry Pi Garage Door Opener

We can never seem to get enough garage door hacks around here. [Tanner’s] project is the most recent entry into this category. He’s managed to hook up a Raspberry Pi to his garage door opener. This greatly extends his range to… well anywhere with an Internet connection.

His hack is relatively simple. He started with the garage door opener remote. He removed the momentary switch that was normally used to active the door. He bridged the electrical connection to create a circuit that was always closed. This meant that as long as the remote had power, the switch would be activated. Now all [Tanner] had to do was remove the battery and hook up the power connectors to his Raspberry Pi. Since the remote works on 3.3V and draws little current, he is able to power the remote directly from the Pi. The Pi just has to turn its pin high momentarily to activate the remote.

The ability to toggle the state of your garage door from anywhere in the world also comes with paranoia. [Tanner] wanted to be able to tell if the door is up, down, or stopped somewhere in the middle while he was away from home. He also wanted to use as little equipment as possible. Since he already had an IP camera in the garage, he decided to use computer vision to do the detection.

He printed off two large, black shapes onto ordinary white computer paper. One was taped to the top of the door and one to the bottom. A custom script runs on the Pi that grabs the latest image from the camera and uses OpenCV to detect the shapes. If both shapes are visible, then the script can assume the door is closed. Otherwise, it’s likely open. This makes it easier for [Tanner] to know if the door is opened or closed without having to check the camera himself.

Can’t get enough garage door hacks? Try these on for size. Continue reading “A Raspberry Pi Garage Door Opener”

Rock Climbing Wall Installed In Garage Doubles As Storage Space

Climbing enthusiast and human spider [Swighton] just couldn’t get enough climbing crammed into his day. If he couldn’t get out to the climbing spots, why not bring the climbing spot to him? So he did that by building a climbing wall in his garage.

The process started with determining the available space that can be allocated to the project. In [Swighton]’s case he could afford an 8×12 ft section of real estate. The garage ceilings were 8 ft high. A few days were spent sketching out ideas and designs. To suit his needs, the wall had to have a 45 degree overhang section, a small 90 section (think ceiling, not wall) and a pull-up bar. Once the design was finalized, it was time to pull some sheet rock off the walls and ceiling so that the 2×4 and 2×6 climbing wall framing could be securely fastened to the current garage structure.

Three-quarter inch plywood would cover the wooden frame. Before the plywood sheets were cut to size and installed, he drilled holes every 8 inches to accept t-nuts. These t-nuts allow hand holds to be installed and easily reconfigured. The quantity of t-nuts adds up quickly, an 8 inch square spacing results in 72 t-nuts per sheet of plywood.

[Swighton] also added a hatch to allow access to the inside of the climbing wall so that space would not go to waste. It is now a storage area but may become a kids’ fort in the future. After it was all said and done the wall only cost $400 which includes $180 for the hand holds.

If you’re like [Swighton] and can’t get enough climbing action, check out this wall with light up hand holds or this interactive wall.