Little Helper: Open Source Hardware Hacker Multitool

We love a good multitool. There’s something seductive about knowing that if, for some reason, you need to saw down a tree on a moment’s notice, you have a tiny saw in your pocket. We also like electronic versions of the multitool: gadgets that serve a lot of purposes as you develop and debug hardware. One of the most polished-looking ones we’ve seen is [Phillip Schuster’s] Little Helper.

The open source gadget looks like an iPod (if an iPod had header pins sticking out of it). It has basic analog I/O capability, can generate PWM pulses, sniff I2C traffic, and do lots of other features. It is open source, so you can always add more capabilities if you need them.

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Multitool alarm system

Here’s a way to make sure you don’t leave your Leatherman multitool somewhere. It’s an alarm system that will start a timer when the tool is removed from the holster. After five minutes the module beeps to remind you to put the tool back where it belongs. Annoying? Possibly, but if you’re not done with your work just press the reed leaf switch on the module to reset the timer. A PIC 12F683 handles the timing and generates the waveform for the piezo buzzer. Perhaps this could have been accomplished with a dual 555 chip like the LM556 (one timer for the countdown and another for the piezo waveform) but the PIC has power-down modes available that should make the button batteries last a long time.