Quacking egg timer

[Tom] managed to build a geeky, quirky digital timer for the kitchen. Where most would have used a few seven segment displays along with some buttons and called it done, he found a way to make it a lot more fun. The plush addition on top is a yellow ducky with an orange beak. When time runs out the duck will quack, call you back to the kitchen.

As you can see in the video after the break, [Tom's] got his hands full with the family. This project was quick enough for him to fit it in during what dwindling free time he manages to hold onto. He used one of the chips that came with his MSP430 Launchpad. Since this family of processors offer extremely low-power modes when asleep they’re perfect for this type of battery-powered application. As for the duck, it’s a toy that had a couple of watch batteries and a small PCB inside. Some poking around led him to a pad that activates the quacking when grounded.

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Home automation hack controls lights based on head count

This home automation hardware turns on and off the lights based on room occupancy. The hack is an extension of an earlier version that was only a proof of concept. [RPisces] took the idea and made it into reality by mounting the sensor hardware in a doorway.

He prototyped the device using the MSP430 launchpad. It monitors a pair of IR distance sensors which record a change when something passes between them and the opposite side of the hallway. This is a good sensor choice as it only requires hardware on one side of the passageway. Because two of them are used, it’s quite simple to figure out if a person is entering or leaving the room based on which is tripped first.

In this case [RPisces] drives a relay to switch a lamp on and off. But it could be used for just about anything. We’d enjoy seeing it trigger an audio system like the one [Quinn's] installing in every room.

Frequency analyzer built from the new Stellaris Launchpad

Here’s the first project we’ve seen for the new Stellaris Launchpad. It’s a frequency analyzer which displays a graph on an 8×8 LED module. What’s that you say? You haven’t received your new Launchpad board yet? Neither have we since they don’t start shipping until the end of the month. But [EuphonistiHack] works as a software dev for TI and snagged one of the early development units.

Hardware is rather simple. He uses an OpAmp to feed audio from his laptop to the ARM processor. The 8×8 LED module is an MSP430 booster pack that is addressed via SPI. On the software side of things he’s really taking advantage of hardware peripherals to simplify his work. A timer triggers each ADC reading which in turn writes the values using uDMA. Digital Signal Processing (available as a CMSIS library for many ARM chips) is then used to translate the ADC value to one that can be displayed on the LEDs. Check out the video after the break to see the final version.

The Hackaday writers are looking for an easier name for this hardware than “Stellaris Launchpad”. It doesn’t seem to lend itself to a shorter name, like RPi or Raspi does for the Raspberry Pi. If you’ve got a catchy nick name for the new board please share it in the comments.

Preorder TI’s ARM Cortex-M4 Launchpad for $5 delivered

Texas Instruments just open preorders for the new Stellaris LaunchPad. The boards won’t ship until the end of September, but if you don’t mind the wait you can get one for $4.99 including delivery (we’d wager non-U.S. addresses have to pay for delivery, but leave a comment if you know for sure several readers have reported that international shipping is free).

We routinely pay more in shipping for parts orders so we already jumped at the opportunity and put in our own order. Earlier in the month we heard the first murmurs about the device. We’re glad to see they hit the $4.99 target price, but the TI website mentions that this is a promotional price that will be available for a limited time only. The board boasts an ARM Cortex-M4 processor, the Stellaris LM4F120H5QR. It includes 256 KB of flash memory, 32 KB of SRAM, and more peripherals than you can shake a stick at. To get you up and running quickly they’ve included two user buttons and an RGB LED. As with the 16-bit Launchpad, the board acts as its own programmer. It has a microUSB jack, but they’ve included a micro B to USB A cable in the kit to make sure you don’t need to also put in a cable order.

We’ll give a follow-up post once we finally get our hands on the board. We hope this will be easy to get working with a Linux box!

[Thanks Chris]

TI Launches C2000 Launchpad (featuring Billy Mays)

The Texas Instruments MSP430 Launchpad is pretty popular in hacks, likely due to its low price. TI has recently released a new C2000 Launchpad device that offers more power and peripherals for $17. This board uses the C2000 Piccolo processor, which is meant for DSP applications.

Also included is an unrestricted version of the Code Composer Studio IDE and the controlSUITE software package. You can also run the free SYS/BIOS RTOS on this board. It’s nice to see TI providing a lot of free, non-crippled tools that could be used to power some pretty advanced hacks.

Most MSP430 Launchpad Booster Packs should be compatible with this board, and TI has a new layout for Booster Packs that use the additional pins. There is a C2000 specific LED Booster Pack available now for $30. There are also specifications for building your own Booster Packs for the C2000.

TI has released a slightly cheesy promotional video that features a [Billy Mays] like performance. Check it out after the break.

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TI’s inexpensive Piccolo and Stellaris dev boards

Texas Instruments is trying to take the success it had with the LaunchPad and apply it to other chip architectures. The board seen above is their new C2000 Piccolo LaunchPad. It’s a development board for the F28027 chip. This 32-bit offering is a part we know nothing about. A first look shows a clock speed between 40 and 60 MHz, 64k of Flash memory, and a JTAG programming interface. It sounds like an unrestricted copy of Code Composer Studio is also available to use as the development environment. At $17 won’t break the bank, but we also don’t feel that welling of excitement to get in on one of these units.

What does get us excited is the Stellaris LaunchPad offering. It’s not available yet (which always makes us want it more), but you can enter a drawing to get a free one when they are released. Be warned, with only 25 up for grabs the odds are against you. There are no details, other than a target price of $4.99 for the ARM development board. We’ve had a lot of fun with the STM32 ARM board, and this might be a new adventure to undertake.

[Thanks Máté]

Automatic trough filler makes sure the animals have water

It has been a hot hot summer for many parts of the US. The heat has been dangerous at times and making sure the livestock has the water they need is incredibly important. [Maddox] recently upgraded the automation on their water troughs which will help with the process. Sure, they still have to check on the animals, but this will ensure there’s plenty to drink in between those visits, and that a malfunction doesn’t waste precious water.

There has always been some level of automation here, but it relied on float valves which were frequently malfunctioning. This project seeks to get rid of the float value and use solenoid valves like those used in irrigation. These solenoids can run from a 9V battery and offer quite a bit more reliability than the mechanical vales. There is still a float sensor which measures the water level, filling up the trough when needed.

An MSP430 Launchpad was used for the prototype, from which a PCB was designed. Since this needs to be weather-proof a water tight enclosure was sourced. The company that makes the enclosure also provides DXF templates which [Maddox] used to establish the size and outline of the PCB.