[Jason Wright] and [Jeremy Blum] are showing off the project they developed for their Designing with Microcontrollers course at Cornell University. They call it the Heliowatcher, and if you know your Greek mythology we’d be you figured out this watches the movement of the sun and adjust a solar panel to follow it.
Their design is simple and effective. The base is mounted like a Lazy Susan, able to pivot on the horizontal plane. The bottom edge of the solar panel is mounted with two door hinges, with a motorized screw jack used to raise and lower it. The system uses a GPS to provide geographical position, day, and time feedback. This is used in conjunction with an array of four LEDs to determine the best position of the panel. Those LEDs are acting as light sensors; when the top and the bottom detect similar levels, the panel is at its most efficient orientation. The left and right LED sensors work the same way.
Now if we can just work out a self-cleaning system to keep the panels free of the dirty film that builds up over time we’d be set!
Continue reading “Heliowatcher positions solar panels for highest efficiency”
When it comes to bathroom etiquette, [Nick] and the crew at Gadget Gangster are nothing less than proper gentlemen. Inspired by a Japanese toilet that automatically plays a “courtesy flush” noise in an effort to conserve water while masking sounds, they created the Toilet Buddy.
While the Toilet Buddy does nothing to cover up any aromas, it does provide some sound cover for those louder times. Not only that, it also helps serve as a reminder for other bathroom courtesies as well. When mounted on the tank lid, the Toilet Buddy alerts the last occupant to put the seat down and shut off the lights before leaving the bathroom. Built with a Parallax Propeller board, it uses IR and ambient light sensors to determine the position of the toilet seat and the status of the bathroom lights, playing an audio notifier when necessary. Now if it only sprayed air freshener automatically!
[Nick] points out that the Toilet Buddy is not limited to bathroom duty, and can be used in a variety of projects where light/motion sensing is required. Be sure to check out his writeup for some usage suggestions if you’re thinking of building one.
In the meantime, continue reading to see a video of the Toilet Buddy in action.
Continue reading “Toilet Buddy helps cover up bathroom noises”
[Tobe] has an intervalometer for his camera, but he wanted a device that could trigger the shutter using several different methods, not just time. He calls his creation the Megavallometer, which can utilize any one of three distinct criteria.
He recently purchased an Arduino and a couple of shields, so he figured this would be a perfect project in which to use them. He hooked up a microphone and a photodiode to the Arduino, allowing him to use both sound and light to trigger his camera, depending on which mode he selects. Of course, the Megavallometer still incorporates the functionality of a standard intervalometer as well.
Once connected to his camera he selects one of the three trigger programs, and the Arduino handles the rest. If either the light or sound triggers are selected, the respective sensors measure the ambient levels upon selection, allowing for accurate results in any setting.
While the Megavallometer is a bit larger than other intervalometers we have seen, it looks incredibly useful and can likely be strapped to a tripod or similar if need be.
If you have a minute, be sure to check out the video on his site for a sneak peak if his Megavallometer in action.
Adding this board (translated) to your bathroom fan will turn it into a smart device. It’s designed to automatically shut off the fan after it’s had some time to clear humidity from the room. It replaces the wall switch which normally controls these fans by converting the fan connection to always be connected to mains. The board draws constant power to keep the ATtiny13 running via a half-wave rectification circuit. A single LED that rises from the center of the PCB lights up to signal that the fan is in operation, but it is also used as a light sensor, similar to the LED communications hack from a couple of days ago. When the lights go on in the bathroom the microcontroller will turn on the exhaust fan via a Triac. It will remain on until the light level in the bathroom drops.
There’s an interesting timing algorithm that delays the fan startup, and varies the amount of time it will stay on in the dark depending on how long the bathroom lights were on. This way, a longer shower (which will build up more humidity) will cause the fan to remain on for the base of five minutes, plus one minute longer for every two minutes the bathroom was in use. Pretty smart, and quite useful if your bathroom sees high traffic from several family members.
[David Hyman] built this device to control a LEGO claw. One one end of things is the part you wear, that measures movement of two fingers and your thumb. On the other end of things is a LEGO claw with three opposing digits. You move, it moves. The claw uses light sensors and a gradient strip for position feedback. There is also an up-down wrist action that uses a touch sensor as the input. This is impressive enough to give the sniper rifle a run for its money.
[Darren] built a clock that uses a resistor to display the time. Well, it really uses a model of a resistor. This extremely tardy entry in the Hackaday design challenge houses all of the electronics on a PCB the size of a business card. Four RGB LEDs shine up through holes in the wooden base to light bands on an acrylic tube. The colors correspond to the values used in the Resistor Color Code. In the picture above the clock is displaying 5:26 (that’s supposed to be a red band but the camera didn’t pick it up too well). The band in the center fades up over 60 seconds to signify AM, and down to show PM.
It may be late, but it’s a clever design. It looks sleek and it uses no buttons for an interface. [Darren] sourced the LEDs themselves as light sensors to display the date, and enter time setting mode.
Here’s an advent wreath made from six parts and a paper clip. Powered by a CR2032 3v button cell, the circuit has been free-formed using a paper clip as the conductor. We love the “dead bug” style of construction used with the ATtiny13 microcontroller because it adds an extra level of intrigue for the uninitiated. This project build on the flickering circuit we saw last year and uses the LEDs as light sensors, only turning on when a certain darkness level has been reached.
We used a tiny13 with our Menorah project last year and still have some lying around that we can use for this. We’re sure you’ve got at least a couple of low-pin-count micros on hand. If you don’t, you should!