Bamboo Plant Becomes A Stylish Light Switch

If flipping a regular old light switch or pressing buttons isn’t an adequately pleasing way to use your appliances around the house, how about poking at the leaves of a plant to turn on your lamp? [Xkitz] has provided a thorough breakdown of how to turn any conductive object in your living space into a nifty capacitive touch switch that adds a bit of charm to such an everyday action.

Creating an electrostatic field around a conductive medium, the capacitive touch relay constantly monitors this field and will toggle when any minuscule change to the capacitance is detected. [Xkitz] uses a bamboo plant as his trigger. Gently touching any leaf will still act as an adequate trigger — as cool demonstration of how the electrostatic field works.

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Ikea Projection Lamp Makeover Adds LED Matrix and Raspberry Pi Zero

If you’re like us, it’s hard to walk through an Ikea without mentally hacking everything there into something else. The salad bowl? Parabolic antenna. Drawer slides? Linear motion rails. Storage containers? Etching tank. We admit that we still haven’t figured out what to do with that 1,000-pack of tea lights.

[Alain Mauer] pulled off an Ikea hack that we’ve always dreamed about. In particular, he took the Sprida projector lamp and wedged an 8×8 LED matrix and Raspberry Pi Zero into it.

The lamp in question is essentially a slide projector for kids. Before [Alain] got to it, it had an LED in the back, a mount for a slide in the middle, and a focusing lens on the front. His mod is simplicity itself: remove the LED and transparency, and place the LED matrix in the focal plane where the slide used to be. Reverse images on the LED in software to compensate for the lens, and you’re done.

The video says “Raspberry Pi Zero with WiFi” and the project title promises “IoT”, but we don’t see the WiFi in the build. We’re guessing that [Alain] will get around to it — it’s easily doable. (Doh! There’s a tiny USB WiFi dongle providing the obligatory wireless connection.) Anyway, the point is the projection, and we love it, and we’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us think about RGB matrices.

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White Oak Illuminated Bluetooth Speaker

Besides being common tools available to most hackers and makers out there, 3D printing, CNC machines, and cheap Chinese electronics have one more things in common: they were all used by [Nick] to build a bluetooth speaker system that has some interesting LED effects built into the case.

This is fresh on the heels of another hack that used similar construction methods to build a “magic” wood lamp. [Nick] takes it a step further, though. His case is precisely machined in white oak and stuffed with the latest China has to offer: a bank of lithium-ion batteries, a DC-DC converter to power the amplifier, and a Bluetooth module. After some sanding, the speakers look professional alongside the blue light features hiding behind the polycarbonate rings.

Of course you’ll want to visit the project site for all the details of how [Nick] built his speaker case. He does admit, however, that the electronics are fairly inefficient and need a little work. All in all though, it’s a very refined set of speakers that’ll look great on a bookshelf or on a beach, workshop bench, or anyplace else that you could take them.

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Building an Interactive LED Lamp To Annoy Yourself

[Norwegian Creations] makes things as a business model. Tired of the mundane lamp above their heads, they decided to put their skills to use. The basic idea was simple, plot out a cool 3D function, put some RGB LEDs behind it, make it an awesome mathematical rainbow light display, hang it right above their desks, and then ignore it for their monitors while they worked.

The brains of the project is a Raspberry Pi B+, WS2812 LED strips, and a Fadecandy controller from Adafruit. They 3D printed hexagonal towers out of clear plastic and labeled each carefully. Then they attached the strips to the board, glued on the hexagons, and covered the remaining surface in cotton balls to give it a cloud-like appearance.

The lamp normally plays patterns or maintains a steady light. As the day turns to night it reflects the world outside. However, if someone likes their Facebook page the light has a little one robot strobe party, which we imagine can get annoying over time. Video after the break.

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Man Shoots Lamp

What do you get when you mix together all of the stuff that you can get for cheap over eBay with a bit of creativity and some PVC pipe? [Austiwawa] gets a table lamp, remote-controlled by a toy gun, that turns off and falls over when you shoot it. You’ve got to watch the video below the break.

This isn’t a technical hack. Rather it’s a creative use of a bunch of easily available parts, with a little cutting here and snipping there to make it work. For instance, [Austiwawa] took a remote control sender and receiver pair straight off the rack and soldered some wires to extend the LED and fit it inside the toy gun. A relay module controls the lamp, and plugs straight into the Arduino that’s behind everything. Plug and play.

Which is not to say the lamp lacks finesse. We especially like the screw used as an end-of-travel stop for the servo motor, and the nicely fabricated servo bracket made from two Ls. And you can’t beat the fall-over-dead effect. Or can you? Seriously, though, great project [Austiwawa]!

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Non-Invasive Smart Electricity Meter

There are a lot of ways to measure energy usage in the home, but most of them involve handling mains voltage. Not only that, but sometimes they require handling mains voltage before it gets through a breaker panel or fuse box, meaning that if you make a mistake there are a lot of bad things that can happen. [Yonas] has been working on this problem, and has come up with a non-invasive, safer way to monitor electricity consumption without having to work directly on live wires.

Please note that you should still not be working on mains voltage without proper training, but if you have the required know-how then the installation should be pretty straightforward. The project is based on the Spark Core, and uses clamp-on current sensors to measure energy use. The sensors wrap around the mains cable, meaning you don’t have to disconnect anything to hook them up. The backend runs on a LAMP server which could be a Raspberry Pi if you have one. [Yonas] runs it on a hosted server as a matter of preference.

All of the source code for this is available, and assuming you can get your hands on the current sensors this could be a great way to get started monitoring your energy usage in the house. Be sure to check out the video below for a demonstration of the operation of this device. Of course, if you have a gas line you’ll need this energy monitoring setup too.

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Why Build Furniture When you can Grow it?

[Gavin Munro] is turning the standard paradigm of furniture making on its head. Instead of harvesting trees and slicing them up into boards – or worse, turning them into sawdust to be used for particle board – [Gavin] is literally growing furniture.

Supple young willow saplings are pruned and trained using wire and plastic form work. The trees are encouraged to grow in the right directions to form legs, arms, seat and back, and eventually the individual pieces are grafted Fg_3_chairs_growingtogether to continue growing into one solid piece. When the chair is mature, the leaves are removed, the chair is cut free from the ground, and with a little seasoning and finishing, you’ve got a unique and functional chair. And what’s more, since it’s a solid piece of wood, there are no joints to loosen over time.

You’ve got to admire the dedication that goes into these chairs. The current crop is about nine years old and still a few years from harvest. There’s a lot to be learned from the organization of a project like this – planning a production line where the first finished pieces are a decade or more from the showroom is no mean feat. Looks like [Gavin] has thought that through as well, by starting a line of lamps that will be turning a profit sooner. The video after the break demonstrates not only [Gavin’s] chairs and lamps, but also features his first harvest of tables.

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