Upgrading a solar lamp to charge an iPad


[Phillip] and the crew at Voltaic Systems took a look at the Sunnan solar powered desk lamp from IKEA a while back, and while they thought it was pretty useful, there were definitely some things they wanted to change.

First on their list of revisions was to increase the capacity of the stock battery pack. Taking the lamp apart and unscrewing the pack’s lid revealed a set of 3 AA cells, which they swapped out for higher-capacity models with more than double the watt-hour rating.

A beefed up battery is a good start, but the lamp’s tiny solar panel has no hope of topping off the batteries outside of Death Valley. To ensure that they get a nice full charge, a small jack was wired into to the battery pack, allowing the group to connect any size external solar panel they pleased.

Finally, [Phillip] and Co. wanted the ability to charge an iPad2 from the lamp’s battery pack. They hacked in a small USB connector and a slightly modified MintyBoost board to provide a little extra juice to their tablet.

While they are still testing the modifications, they say that everything is working nicely, citing that the extra battery capacity and charging abilities are a great addition.

Minimalist DIODER hack requires no external microcontroller


Hackaday reader [chrysn] picked up a 3-button RGB model DIODER light from IKEA and thought he might as well take it apart to see what he could do with it. Having seen several DIODER hacks featured here, he knew it was easily hackable, but he didn’t want to simply rehash what other had already done.

All of the DIODER hacks we have come across thus far incorporate some sort of AVR chip or add-on board to expand its capabilities. [chrysn] saw that the controller already had a PIC16F684 inside, and thought that installing his own firmware onto the existing hardware would be a far more simple solution. He installed a small programming cable onto the DIODER’s control board, and using his PICkit2 programmer, flashed the chip with a custom firmware image.

His modifications worked great, and [chrysn] says that there is plenty potential in the existing hardware to have all sorts of fun with it. Even so, he notes that there are several AVR-flavored drop-in replacements that can be used if that happens to be your microcontroller family of choice.

Build cheap panning camera mounts for time lapse photography


Panning time lapse photographs always look pretty cool, but there’s that whole “making a panning time lapse” rig that gets in the way of all the fun. [Getawaymoments] put together a tutorial quite a while ago showing how to use Ikea egg timers as cheap and dispensable panning units, and has updated his instructions with a pair of refreshed designs.

He stumbled upon two new egg timers at Ikea, the Stam and Ordning, which sell for $1.99 and $5.99 respectively. The Stam is a small plastic model that can be fitted with a set screw, to which most cameras can be mounted. A small bushing can also be installed in the timer’s plastic base, allowing it to be mounted on any standard tripod.

The Ordning is a beefier unit capable of withstanding more abuse than its plastic brethren, hence the larger price tag. A few minutes on the drill press makes room for a metal bushing, allowing the Ordning to be installed on any tripod as well.

The hack isn’t high tech, but we’re impressed with the results he was able to get with these simple kitchen timers. For the cost and time required to build them, they are sure to give most other panning rigs a run for the money.

Continue reading to see a short instructional video demonstrating how to build one of your own.

[via Make]

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Adding a little polish to your cellphone charging setup

Cable management can really be an eyesore, but a little creative camouflage and you can have a cellphone charging station that also serves as decoration.

[Kitesurfer] wanted to use one of the cubbyholes in his new Ikea book shelf for charging but wasn’t keen on the rat’s nest of wires that would go along with it. Also not wanting to take on the challenge of wireless charging he hit the As-Is section of the home furnishing giant and grabbed a leftover board that matched the same finish as the cabinetry. It now serves as a false-back for the charging center behind which a power strip and wall-warts hide.

This covers up the problem, but a blank white box filled with the business end of the charging wires isn’t a whole to better. As with a magic show, the trick is in redirection. [Kitesurfer] cut a hole in the false-back and added the guts of a digital picture frame. Right now he’s got it scrolling through different charging icons, but it’s easy enough to change up the slide-show if he gets tired of them. We’d love to see a subsequent hack that lets the picture frame access the photos on your phone via Bluetooth.

Anthropomorphizing an Ikea lamp (like Pixar but in real life)

ArduinoArts is animating an inexpensive Ikea lamp as a contest entry. Seeed Studio’s Toy Hacking Contest calls for the competitors to work their magic using the Grove Toy Kit, which is an extensible sensor connection system for the Arduino. Most of the items in the kit were used to add interactivity to the lamp. Check out the video after the break to see the motion that two servos provide. The lamp can move its shade back and forth as if shaking its head, and the whole arm assembly can rotate in relation to the base. The sensors detect when you’ve repositioned the lamp head and the device will yell at you if it doesn’t appreciate its new pose. It also reacts to noise and motion, switching on the LED that replaces the original bulb in both cases, and asking: “Are you Sarah Connor”  when motion is detected. These basic modifications really make for some fun animatronic behavior.

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Adding USB control for Ikea RGB LED strips

Here’s an altered PCB that gives USB control to an Ikea Dioder. This is a $50 product that comes with four strips each containing nine RGB LEDs. The stock controller has a color selection wheel and a couple of buttons. [Rikard Lindström] wanted to use it to match ambient light to the colors of his computer monitor — yes, it’s another ambilight clone.

Since he already had a bunch of AT90USB162 chips on hand he chose that route. These chips have native USB support (he’s using the LUFA package which is a popular choice), but no on-board ADC. That means no need for the potentiometer from the original controller because there’s no easy way to read its value. Removing it made plenty of room for his add-on PCB. He also depopulated the PIC microcontroller that originally drove the unit, soldering to the empty pads in order to connect is own board. The finished product fits back in the original case, with the addition of a USB cable as the only visible alteration. Now he can dial in colors using a program he wrote.

In case you’re wondering, it looks like this is a newer version of control circuitry when compared to the original Dioder hack we covered.

Disappearing kitchen island

[Tim Thaler] has been redoing his home, adding some fancy automation here and there. But when it came to the kitchen, he went all-out by installing an iPhone controlled disappearing island. In the video clip after the break you can see [Tim] dial up some extra counter and storage space from his smart phone. One click causes it to slowly rise from the depths, shedding the carpet tiles as it goes.

Directly beneath the kitchen is an unfinished storage room. [Tim] framed a hole in the floor above, and sourced a used scissor lift for about $380 to do the heavy lifting. It operates smoothly and isn’t all that loud. It sure makes for an interesting feature if he ever decides to sell the place.

We thought it was a nice touch that the storage room hiding the mechanical parts of the hack has a hidden entrance. You must travel through the billiards room in the basement to access it, turning the ball rack to unlatch the entrance.

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