Remote Control for an Elevator

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The elevator at [Alex]’s office building has some quirks which make it very inconvenient to everyone in the building. The major problem was that the doors of the elevator at each floor stay locked until someone walks down the hall to hit a button. Obviously this was a hassle, so [Alex] built a controller that can remotely call and unlock the elevator. (Part 2 of the project is located on a separate page.)

The first step was to source the hardware and figure out exactly how the controls for the elevator worked. [Alex] decided to use an Electric Imp for this project, and after getting it connected to the Internet, he realized that he could power it directly off of the elevator’s 10V supply. From there, he used relays to interface the Electric Imp with the “elevator call” and “elevator unlock” buttons inside the elevator’s control panel.

Once the hardware side was completed, it was time to move on to the software side. [Alex] wrote a mobile app for a user interface that can be accessed from anywhere, and also wrote the code for the Electric Imp agent and the code that runs on the Electric Imp itself. Now, a simple tap of a button on a mobile device is enough to call the elevator or unlock it, rather than in the past where someone had to run down a hall to hit the button.

We hope there is some security on the mobile app, otherwise anyone in the world will be able to call the elevator and turn it into a passenger-less useless machine!

In-N-Out Boards Sans Hamburgers

board Before this project, [David]’s office had a fairly terrible system to tell everyone who was in the office, who was out, and who wasn’t coming in today. Velcro and whiteboards will do the job, but arcade buttons and LEDs called to [David], leading him to create this In/Out Status Board.

The old system consisted of a whiteboard on the side of each partition, with velcroed labels indicating if a particular person was in the office today, out, sick, or on holiday. Inconvenient to change, and there was no single place everyone could look to see if a particular person was in or not. The new system consists of a four-person pod with four arcade buttons and WS2811 LEDs, an Arduino Nano, and a 433 MHz radio. The main panel is just a bigger version of the four-person pod, keeping track of everyone in the office.

A single button switch will change a person from being in to being out, with longer presses necessary for ‘sick’ and ‘vacation’. It’s interesting to note what’s not included in this build: A fingerprint scanner was out of the question, because that would effectively eliminate anyone ever being marked as ‘sick’. An RFID tag reader was out for the same reason. Also not included is a display. That’s just fine, really – [David] won’t be changing the labels very often, anyway, and that would just add to the cost and complexity of the project.

Deck the cubes

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[MrBuildIt] has lived up to his name when it comes to this year’s Christmas decorations. He built a rig that spreads Christmas cheer from one end of the cubicles to the other.

In the demo video after the break you’ll see that the system is controlled by a nicely polished Android app. It lets you choose from three different Christmas songs (or no music at all) as Santa Claus makes his rounds. The app includes buttons for switching all of the lights on or off but we think it’s more corny fun to see then turn on as Santa flies overhead.

The sleigh and three tiny reindeer are suspended from a pulley system. When they make it to one end of the office a hall effect sensor serves as a limiting switch. From the look of it you’d think Santa will be flying backwards on the return trip but there is a servo that flips the thing around so that he’s going the right way.

This is quite a gaunlet to have thrown down when it comes to office decor. We’d like to see what geeky thing’s you’ve been doing with your own decorations. Get some details up on the web and send a link our way!

Continue reading “Deck the cubes”

Automated turret gives you the upper hand in office warfare

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When your co-workers get on your nerves, the mature recourse is to be the bigger person and simply ignore the obnoxious individual. A team of engineers from TI show us a slightly alternative means of dealing with office mates which is not quite as mature, though far more entertaining.

The office toy cum mechanized weapons system relies on a TI MSP430 LaunchPad, coupled with a custom Turret430 breakout board. The former is the brains of the operation, while the latter houses motor drivers for the motorized turret. The system can be steered throughout its 300 degree range of rotation using an attached joystick, but in the interest of catching their target by surprise, they added an automated mode as well. The automated targeting system uses an attached webcam to pick out victims by the color of their clothing, which seems to work pretty well.

To see the system in action, check out the video embedded below.

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Office game show buzzer keeps things fair and square

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The sales team in [Chuck’s] office is a pretty competitive bunch as you might expect, and they decided that they wanted a system which would allow them to challenge one another during their weekly meetings. The competition involves answering questions posed by their manager, but hand raising only works for so long – they needed a definitive way to tell who “buzzed in” to answer a question first.

Since [Chuck] only had a short bit of time and a tiny budget to work on, he opted to find the easiest solution to the problem, which was an Arduino-based game show buzzer system. The game display is built from an Arduino, some LEDs and an Altoids tin, while the buzzer pushbuttons were salvaged from an old radio broadcast console.

Now, when a question is posed, the salesman can buzz in to answer, knowing that only the quickest person’s button click will be registered. When it’s time for another question, the host simply clicks his buzzer to reset the console.

While it’s not quite as fancy as this game buzzer system we featured a while back, [Chuck] says it does the job perfectly and was cheap to boot.

Continue reading to see a short video of the office game buzzer system in action.

Continue reading “Office game show buzzer keeps things fair and square”

Office prank: death from above

Unsuspecting office workers beware. You may already be in the cross-hairs of a ping-pong ball launching robot. This covert robot hangs out on the other side of a suspended ceiling, waiting for its operator to unleash the fury. When put into action a hatch in a ceiling tile is raised and balls are launched at a cowering cube-dweller.

It looks like the balls are launched at a reasonable speed and won’t hurt anyone. The next generation of this bot should do a better job of integrating the trap door and be quieter. This would be a lot more fun if the victim couldn’t figure out where the heck that ball just came from.

[via BotJunkie]

Office warfare

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a Ruler, rubber band, and a pen make a bow and arrow? How about tape, a ping pong ball, and a lighter coming together to make a ‘Zooka. We didn’t think such destructive weapons could possibly be made from office supplies, but the famous [John Austin] is here to prove us wrong. He’s been miniaturizing toys and their munitions including Transformers, Star Wars, Jurassic Park for years. With the resent release of his new book, he’s left us the grace of a few teasers.

[Thanks Chris]