Adding auto-off to a cheap multimeter

[Florin] picked up a cheap multimeter in order to make multiple measurements at one time. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good at remembering to turn it off when he was finished so he burned through some batteries. Why an auto-off feature wasn’t the first thing coded into the firmware we’ll never know, but [Florin] developed his own hardware-based auto-off circuit.

It sounds like he had all of the components necessary for this on hand already. He grabbed an AVR ATtiny25 in a surface mount package. To keep the board small, he didn’t include an ISP header, but instead made long pads that could have wires soldered to them for flashing the firmware. The microcontroller drives an NPN transistor that can cut off the ground path between the multimeter and its battery. A tactile switch is connected to one of the external interrupt pins and, when pressed, gives you 15 minutes of time to use the meter. After that, the chip kills the power and goes into sleep mode. Simple, and small enough to fit inside the case.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

Hackaday Links: Tuesday, July 19th

Here’s another “useless machine” variant.  The trick to this one is that it has dual “fingers” and can work either way. Which way it turns off is selectable via a switch on the side, and the fingers can both be turned on to “fight” each other. Check out the video here.

This video depicts the assembly of a Gameboy MAME-style cabinet. For those wanting to try something like this, this video may fill you in on some of the required assembly techniques, such as how to put decals on the side of your cabinet.

This video featuring the “Autonomous Ultimate Wall-E” shows this robot’s navigational skills around the house.  Additionally, it has some nicely actuated arms.

The Verbalizer is a microphone designed to be used with Google’s voice search. It’s also designed with Arduino compatibility in mind and is open-source. Could be a good tool for your next hack.

These clever multimeter probes were built using pogo pins used in electrical test equipment. The springs inside of these pins help keep them planted firmly on the test point in question and reportedly gives a very good connection.

Lego Minifig multimeter makes resistor sorting a lot more fun


While there’s typically not much room on our work bench for toys, [David] over at Robot Room has put together a pretty cool multimeter for which we would make an exception.

His Lego Minifig multimeter is constructed using mostly standard off-the-shelf Legos, and a pair of Minifigs he modified to suit his needs. Translucent Minifig heads were sourced online to allow the neck-mounted LEDs to shine through, and each of the bodies were drilled out in several places to accommodate the wires he uses to take measurements.

The multimeter will display the resistance of any item from 10 – 10,000,000 Ω, as well as measure the voltage of any battery you can manage to fit under the Minifig’s metal wrench. The multimeter takes measurements using an ATmega168, and relays that data through a serial to USB converter connected to a nearby computer. The computer is host to a .NET application he wrote which displays and speaks both the resistance and voltage values.

Keep reading to see a quick video walkthrough and a demonstration of the multimeter at work.

[Read more...]

Make presents: The Multimeter

This video falls under the category of things we want to send people when they ask “how do I get started with electronics”, and we get asked that a lot. For those of you who have been working with electronics for years at all, you can skip this entire video. That is, unless you really want to watch an instructional video on multimeters. In the video, which we’ve included after the break, they talk about the differences between different meters, the common uses and how to actually use the meter to get the results you need. Stuffed full of useful information, this video will get those of you who are still reading up to snuff pretty quickly. Now go use your multimeter to do some hacking!

[Read more...]

Building a spectrophotometer

What can you make with a toilet paper roll, duct tape, and a graphing calculator? A stand for your homemade spectrometer. This is neither as pretty nor as accurate as a precision scientific instrument, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. In fact, it works perfectly well for rudimentary observations. Light is shined through a sample solution, passes through a diffraction grating, then shows up as bands of color on the projection surface seen above. The photosensor mounted on the cardboard tube was pulled from a night-light, and is read using the ruler and the multimeter. This results in two data units that are used to graph the results. As long as you’re running test samples as a control this simple setup will yield useful information for the scientist on a shoe-string budget.

[via BoingBoing]

Unlocking RS232 serial comm on a multimeter

[Craig] cracked open a multimeter to unlock RS232 serial communications that can be used for data logging. There’s a couple of things that make this possible. First of all, the multimeter’s processor is not covered in a black epoxy blob, leaving the pins exposed for hacking. Second, the chip model is known and [Craig] was able to get his hands on the datasheet. One of the pins enables serial output when pulsed low. Touching it to V- even turns on an RS232 icon on the display, as seen above. To make this accessible without opening the case a momentary push button can be added, as well as connector for signal output, and a bit of parsing on the PC side to handle incoming data.

Multi Multimeter clock

[Alan Parekh] built this clock to look like a Multimeter using analog multimeters for the three displays. A PIC does the timekeeping and feeds a specific amperage to the three displays which show hours, minutes, and seconds.

We’ve seen clocks that use analog meters before. [Alan] took the concept to the next level, replacing the graduated markings behind each needle to correspond to the correct display. He’s also included precise calibration so that each meter is as accurate as possible. After watching his video we’re convinced this is a refined product ready for a wide market, at least for those who appreciate the geek factor of the display.