Hackaday Links: December 8, 2013

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Let’s start off with some high voltage. Here’s a sweet Jacob’s Ladder build from [Robert]. The site hosting his short writeup has been up and down for us so here’s a cache link.

Speaking of high voltage, if you want to switch mains with your project [Tom] has a breakout board for cheap mechanical relays. [via Dangerous Prototypes]

[Dario] made his own version of an electronic Advent calendar [translated]. There are no numbers, you must solve the mystery of the flashing LEDs to figure out which package goes with each day.

If you ever work with lighted arcade buttons here’s a guide for swapping out the light for an RGB LED. This hack uses through-hole LEDs. We’ve actually seen a surface mount hack that includes a PCB to mimic the old bulbs.

Next time you stay overnight at an event you can give yourself the best view in the campground. This tiny little camper was mounted on a scissor lift! That first step on the way to the Porta Potty is a doozy! [via Adafruit]

[Žiga] was nice enough to demonstrate this smart-watch hack by displaying our name and logo (we love pandering!). It features the MSP-WDS430 which is a surprisingly stylish offering from Texas Instruments. In addition to analog clock hands it has an OLED display driven by the MSP430 inside.

Here’s a quick PIC-based metal detector which [Nicholas] built.

And finally, [Chet] saw the oil tank level sensor we featured this week. He built a nearly identical system earlier this year. The oil level sensor works in conjunction with the custom thermostat he built around an Android tablet.

DIY Metal Detector

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Looking for a light project to teach young hackers some very basic electronics? Here’s a quick and easy weekend project, a simple metal detector!

We all know 555 timers are very useful and pop up in a wide range of projects, but did you know a metal detector is one of them? [vonPongrac] stumbled upon this handy guide, a free eBook on 50 555 Circuits, which contains many cool project ideas, including a simple metal detector circuit. It’s a very basic concept that uses a coil of copper wire as a home-made choke — when metal or a magnet comes near the coil, it varies the output frequency, and the 555 timer in turn, varies the output sound, alerting you of the presence of something metal nearby.

After the break there’s a video of it during its testing phases. If you don’t have a 555 on hand (tisk tisk) but still want to have some treasure hunting fun you can also build one based on an Arduino.

[Read more...]

Build your own metal detector

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[Dzl] and his rather serious looking son are metal detector enthusiasts. But when they couldn’t find their store-bought metal detector earlier this summer they just went ahead and built their own. [Dzl] starts his write up with an explanation of how most oscillator based metal detectors work. This one differs by using an Arduino to read from the metal detecting coil.

The circuit starts with an oscillator that produces a signal of about 160 kHz which is constantly measured by the Arduino. When metal enters the coil it alters the frequency, which is immediately picked up the Arduino. Instead of that characteristic rising tone this rig uses a Piezo buzzer, issuing the type of clicks you’d normally associate with a Geiger counter.

The last part of the build was to find the best coil orientation. They settled on thirty turns around a metal bucket. An old Ikea lamp is the perfect form factor to host their hardware which seems to work like a charm.

Metal detection using an inductor instead of a clock crystal.

This project from a few years back is an interesting take on a metal detector. Instead of building a detection circuit, [Bruno Gavand] replaced the external clock crystal with an inductor. Here you can see the inductor coil next to the PIC 12F683. You can see two components jumping from one breadboard to the other. These are smoothing capacitors on the inductor lines.

The watchdog timer for the chip is run by the internal RC oscillator. When the external crystal receives a pulse due to metal inducing a current in the coil, the value of the watchdog timer is compared to it. This data is filtered and if the proper parameters are present the green LED blinks. This is bicolor LED. If the inductor circuit is functioning properly it will blink red at power up. [Bruno] says that results will vary based on that inductor so you may need to try a few to get the calibration light to blink.

We’re thinking this would make a simple stud finder (by detecting where the nails/screws are in the wall). Check out the demo after the break, then let us know what you would use this for by leaving a comment.

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Autonomous metal detector lets you sit back, get rich

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As a kid, metal detectors seemed like great fun. Every commercial I saw beckoned with tales of buried treasure “right in my own back yard” – a bounty hard for any kid to pass up. In reality, the process was both time consuming and tedious, with little reward to be had. [Gareth] liked the idea of scouring the Earth with a metal detector, but he liked sitting and relaxing even more. He decided he could easily partake in both activities if he built himself an autonomous metal detecting robot.

He stripped down a hand held metal detector, and installed the important bits on to the front of an R/C chassis. An Arduino controls the entire rig via a motor shield, allowing it to drive and steer the vehicle while simultaneously sweeping the metal detector over the ground. He fitted the top of the rover with a camera for remotely watching the action from the comfort of his patio, along with a laser which lets him pinpoint the location of his new found goods.

Continue reading to see a short video of the robot in action, and be sure to check out his site for more build details.

[Read more...]

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