How-To: Make an RGB combination door lock (Part 1)


Part 2 can be found here

Putting a custom designed electronic lock on your space seems like a geek right of passage. For our latest workspace, we decided to skip the boring numbered keypad and build a custom RGB backlit keypad powered by an Arduino. Instead of typing in numbers, your password is a unique set of colors. In today’s How-To, we’ll show you how to build your own and give you the code to make it all work.

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How-To: Super simple serial terminal

This hack shows how to make a dumb terminal out of a keyboard, LCD screen, and an 8-bit microcontroller. From time to time, a portable dumb terminal can be handy for when you have to rescue a headless server that’s acting up or if you are building a minicomputer out of a WRT, or if you just want to learn how to run a keyboard and LCD screen with a microcontroller. This super simple serial terminal will use RS-232 to control a headless linux system. Additionally, you might want to check into some of the command line interface programs that allow web browsing, AIM and IRC chatting and more directly from the terminal, but nothing beats being able to track your pizzas with this device.

The Linux system in question here will be Linux Mint. It’s a young distro based on Ubuntu that’s gaining a lot of attention lately, though the principles can be used for other Linux distros.

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How-To: Expand your camera with CHDK

As anyone who has lusted over the technical specifications for Canon’s new Digital Rebel XSi knows, the capabilities of the average point and shoot camera are severely limited. Using the CHDK firmware hack, the features of Canon point and shoot cameras can be significantly expanded, allowing for ultra-high speed photography, very long exposures, time lapse photography, and RAW capture. This How-To provides a guide to our experiences using the CHDK firmware, and shows just how easy it is to get more out of a point and shoot than ever thought possible.

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How-To: Go green with lead free solder

We covered many of [Jason Rollette]’s personal projects in the past and are happy to welcome him as our newest Hack-A-Day contributor.

The electronics industry has shifted to lead free compliance, but most hobbyists haven’t even considered the personal impact of using lead. Today’s How-To will cover what it takes to switch from tin/lead solder to completely lead free. Our previous posts Introduction to soldering and the follow-up still apply to lead free. You may have never considered switching to lead free before, but we hope to help you make an informed decision.

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How-To: Scavenge a mouse for parts

ps2 mouse opened
Chris Kiick posted about swarm robotics earlier in the week and today publishes his first Hack-A-Day How-To.

Old computer mice are being abandoned in droves. They’re tossed out because of dirt, obsolescence, or for being entirely too beige. Anyone who has a computer usually has more than one mouse and you can get them for pennies, if not free just for asking. Fortunately for the discriminating (read: cheap) hacker, these little widgets are chock-full of project parts. Today’s How-To will dissect a computer mouse, extract the useful parts, and give some ideas about how to use them.

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How-To: Make a digital synthesizer

This week’s How-To comes from our newest contributor: Logan Williams.

This simple guide will show you how to build a digital synthesizer that generates and manipulates square waves. Your synthesizer will have one oscillator, which produces a variable pitch controlled by a potentiometer, as well as an LFO which modulates that pitch at a variable frequency. The part count for this project is quite low, and it can be built for under $20.

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How-To: Where to find parts for your projects


Hunting down the right parts usually takes more time than soldering everything together. I can’t count the number of projects that I tried to build and couldn’t find some key component that’s no longer made. You can help put together a list of suppliers at the end, but the idea is to have a quick reference to get your projects rolling (saving your money for important things, like espresso). Even if you’re familiar with the usual electronics parts shops, chime in to help me create a list of the best suppliers to fuel those hardware hacking projects.

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